It was just a few days ago when I was afield for the last week of deer season. After surveying the land and scouting for tracks and droppings, we located two bedding areas and two feeding areas. The big question was which way on the trail the deer might be coming from. Sure, we could each post in one area, but that would leave the back of the property exposed, and nearly every year at least one deer is harvested from that spot. No, the best plan here was for me to post at one end of the trail for a bit, and then if I felt the action was happening on the other end, hustle over there. Of course, this meant abandoning the cumbersome blind that was already set up, leaving me exposed at my destination. This very situation is what inspired the 2021 ALPS OutdoorZ Dash Panel Blind.
The Dash Panel Blind is a hybrid design that has the portability of a panel blind, with the rigidity of a pop-up blind. Through the use of tent-style poles and one pop-out front panel, it assembles in minutes and weighs only 5.5 pounds. There is something about portable lightweight hunting gear that always fascinates me. Oh yeah, that’s right…it doesn’t hurt your back to drag in or out of the woods. It was compact enough to slip inside of my treestand, so likely I’ll bring it wherever I wind up hunting even if just for good measure.
Without reading the instructions I had the blind up in about four minutes. That's the kind of simplicity I look for in hunting equipment, especially products that are only going to be used seasonally. Yes, we should always read instruction manuals (and I did afterward), but I wanted to see how instinctive it would be.
Setup was as simple as popping out the front panel by pulling on the attached strap, and then assembling the side panels support poles the same way you would a tent. In other words, elastic cording pulls two segments of support columns together once they are aligned with each other. Once they are connected, they get placed into an eyelet that is located down by the footing. This tension erects the sides and all that is left is to push the pre-attached stakes into the ground to add a bit of wind resistance.
Once it’s upended, the blind provides 270 degrees of concealment, leaving the back wide open. In the grand scheme of things, this is perfect as long as you only need concealment, not shelter. In fact, if you are hunting in a warm climate, you're going to appreciate having all of that extra airflow. Because the back is exposed, the name of the game when using the Dash Blind is understanding where to expect your shot to be and to position the blind to hide as much of your outline as possible.
The two sides of the dash blind have screen windows with a sliding fabric cover to close them off if you wish. ALPS refers to this as its SILENT-TRAC technology. I found the mechanism to be very simple. It consists of lightweight plastic hardware that just slides up or down some stitched-in tubing. I like this because it’s mechanically simpler than a zipper--nothing can get stuck in it. The front of the blind has a very generous shooting port that is void of mesh and uses the same sliding hardware and fabric panels for adjustable concealment. This gives the hunter a very large window to align the perfect shot and having the back of the blind open allows him or her to sit as far back as needed to stay hidden, or to clear a long gun barrel.
Taking the blind down took even less time than putting it up, which is precisely the idea behind the Dash Panel Blind. Should you decide you need to change locations based on wind, or just to check out another area of the woods, it is meant for just that type of on-the-go hunting. The included carry bag has an attached handle to easily throw over your shoulder, or even lash to your pack if you are taking it on a long haul. However you plan on using it, there is no denying that is it light, fast and quiet. For more information visit http://www.alpsoutdoorz.com/