The Ameristep Doghouse is an excellent ground blind for solo hunters that like to travel light and remain well-hidden from game.
Although it has its downsides, it does what you need from a ground blind at an excellent price point. Read on to find out what I loved and what I found challenging about the Doghouse.
Things to consider before buying a ground blind
A ground blind is an excellent hunting tool for many situations; however, there are quality alternatives. The following section highlights when and when not to use a ground blind.
Use a ground blind to
Get close to prey without being seen or heard
A ground blind is excellent for getting close to animals without them noticing you, particularly if you’re a photographer or wildlife enthusiast. A blind will not only hide you but can also mask small sounds you make while inside.
Hunt in well-known areas
An issue with ground blinds is that it can be hard to move them around from place to place, depending on their weight and dimensions. These days we take many things on a hunting trip – from ground blinds and ground blind chairs to weapons, cameras, food, entertainment, heaters, rugs, and more. Although individually they don’t weigh much, these things quickly add up to significant weight.
Therefore – certainly in the case of hub-style ground blinds – you’re best restricting yourself to well-known areas such as private land, where you can set up and leave a ground blind.
If you’re going further afield, check out popup or runner ground blinds because they are lighter to carry. Two-person ground blinds like the Doghouse or the Care Taker weigh as little as 8-15 lbs compared to the 30+ lbs of the Big Cat 350, or even heavier semi-permanent blinds.
That said, there are still disadvantages to hunting further from home with a ground blind. Animals always react to changes in their environment. If a ground blind suddenly appears from one day to the next, they’re likely to steer clear. Brushing-in your ground blind also takes time, so doing these every time you hunt could be frustrating and time-consuming.
In these cases, I like to use my tree stand, usually a lightweight climber. The lightest climber tree stand weighs 11 lbs. That’s more than the lightest hang on stand at 4 lbs, but the climber stand is better equipped for dealing with different tree problems you might find and for getting in and out quickly.
Make a long hunt as safe and comfortable as possible
Despite the tree stand being better adapted to specific situations, a ground blind wins every time for safety and comfort.
I’ve sat in a tree stand in the rain and heavy wind, and it can put a damper on your experience. A ground blind is perfectly adapted to protecting you from the sun, rain, wind, and snow. You can even take heaters, blankets, or whatever else you need to make it work.
Keep your feet on the ground
As for safety, there’s no comparison between keeping your two feet on the ground and shimmying up a tree 15-25 feet.
Don’t use a ground blind to
It isn’t a blanket rule – there are plenty of ground blinds out there from which you can bow hunt. That said, it’s hardly ever comfortable, so I’d err towards a tree stand where possible. If you do want to bow hunt, check out the best ground blinds for bowhunting.
Track down game
If you like to hunt aggressively, then a ground blind might not be for you. You could either use a tree stand to set up in an area you come across while running and gunning or stay light on your feet without anything!
Ameristep Multi-season Doghouse Ground Blind Specifications
The Ameristep Doghouse Ground Blind is a small, lightweight, two-person ground blind. The blind footprint is 60 inches by 60 inches, with a modest height of 66 inches, or 5 foot 6.
The best feature of the Doghouse is its spring steel technology. As soon as you remove it from its carry case, the ground blind immediately pops up, ready to go. I’ve never seen a ground blind so easy to set up before. Although the first time you tear it down is a learning process, once you’ve got it, you can pack it back up just as fast, and it fits nicely into its carry case.
The beauty of this lightweight setup is that it weighs an excellent12 lbs. Thanks to its lightweight, it’s ideal for transporting around. The carry case also straps to your back like a rucksack.
I also like the reduced dimensions (on both the original and the Run & Gun) to brush this blind into the best spaces. It fits nicely under tree branches and amongst the foliage to disappear completely against its backdrop.
The exterior features eight window openings, with portholes on three of the four sides, with a door on the final side to enter. Each window has camo-covered shoot-through mesh, and the finish of the Durashell Plus fabric blends well into your environment. On the inside, it has ShadowGuard technology like other Ameristep ground blinds. It helps to eliminate shadows and silhouettes when too much light is coming into the blind.
In the package, you’ll receive the Doghouse ground blind, a backpack carrying case, stakes to attach it to the floor, and some high-wind tie-downs.
Due to the Doghouse’s success as a portable ground blind, Ameristep came out with the Doghouse “Run & Gun” model. Their goal was to reduce the dimensions of the blind further to make it one of the most lightweight ground blinds on the market, and they were successful. The footprint is 55 inches by 55 inches, with a significantly reduced height of 61 inches, or 5’1″. This adjustment contributed to reducing four pounds, from 12 lbs down to an incredible 8 lbs.
- Best budget ground blind
- Best ground blind for photographers
- Extremely lightweight ground blind
- Excellent carry case for portability
- Easy to set up and tear down
- Outstanding to brush into small, well-camouflaged trees and foliage
- Small dimensions make it tight, especially for two hunters
- Difficult blind for bowhunters due to size
- Awkward for tall hunters in general
- Noisy velcro on shoot-through mesh
Ameristep Doghouse Ground Blind Features & Benefits
How easy is it to set up? 10/10
I’m giving this blind a ten out of ten for set up. It pops open as soon as you take it out of the carry case. Other blinds generally don’t take long, but this was crazy fast. You’ll need one minute to feed the poles through to strengthen the structure, and then you’ll stake it down too. The catch with these easy-open products is that they are ordinarily troublesome to tear down or get back into their case. I can’t say that it was as easy as setting up, but after battling for a minute or so, you realize the technique, and as of then, you’ll find it just as easy to tear down. It also fits nicely back into the carry case. You don’t have to force it away. Overall this is the Doghouse’s best feature.
How comfortable is it? 6/10
The Doghouse is billed as a two-person ground blind, but you could argue it’s better as a premium one-person space. Two big six-foot men side by side will feel cramped, especially when surrounded by gear.
One person fits more than comfortably, and you could have a heater, gear, and pack nicely placed around you. In the case of two people, it depends on what you take with you, and how long you’ll be in there.
Although the zippers can be noisy, what they do well is retain heat in the blind when you’re hunting at low temperatures.
What’s it like to shoot from? 5/10
This blind favors crossbow and rifle hunters due to its dimensions. When you shoot a bow, you find yourself altering your drawback to accommodate for the reduced space. Even though it just fits, at some point, you’re likely to touch the blind with your elbow or bow. Remember that this doesn’t just move that area but will jog the whole blind, which could give you away. You can try angling your crossbow to shoot from the back corners, which provides you with some more elbow room, but it could be more comfortable.
If you want to remain well-hidden, I like the shooting ports. You can still get fair visibility, but you’re significantly reducing the black silhouette visible from the outside.
What’s more, the portholes/windows are low. I first tried shooting from seated, but I was too tall. Like in the video, the best option was to get on my knees to take a shot. I don’t mind doing this, but some hunters won’t be able to.
As for the windows, if you need to open up a different one to get an angle on an animal, you have to scramble to unzip them, which makes a loud noise. If you have to tear the velcro mesh down, stop what you’re doing and let it run away… It’s too loud!
How well is it built? 5/10
The loops where you attach the stakes to the ground are weak. If you stake the blind down in sustained heavy wind, the blind may fly away, leaving the stakes in the ground. It’s good to brush your ground blind right in against a tree or a similar windbreaker to stop this. The poles are also of a quality that is susceptible to damage under similar conditions.
The Durashell fabric is of better quality. It stood up well to branches and bush without ripping, although I imagine that it will be susceptible to a few rips and tears over time.
Value for Money 7/10
In the value for money category, I’m giving it a seven out of ten. It’s one of the cheapest blinds on the market, and you can often get a deal on it, which brings it down to pocket-money prices. If you only hunt from a blind once or twice a year, this is a great option.
Where it loses points is on the build quality and functionality. It’s a viable option for crossbow and firearm hunters, but it makes it challenging work for a bowhunter. It’s also more adapted to one person than two.
The Care Taker – the best two-person ground blind on the market
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the Ameristep Care Taker.
I suspect that many people interested in the Doghouse would also be interested to hear about the Care Taker, particularly the new “Kickout” version. It’s a well-built blind for the money it costs and an excellent option for two people to hunt in more comfort.
The Big Cat 350 – The best overall ground blind available this year
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the Big Cat 350.
Perhaps instead of a two-person blind, you were looking for a more spacious, well-built yet portable option? The Big Cat 350 is our best ground blind of the year. Barronett did a great job on this blind, and it suits many different types of hunters and hunting needs.
The 6-Panel Runnerblind – A highly portable, run n’ gun solution
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the 6-Panel Runnerblind.
The 6-Panel Runnerblind is a quirky run n’ gun alternative to the traditional popup ground blind. It’s a 23-inch tall panel that, when opened up, reflects the natural environment at the animal, rendering you completely invisible.
Although not without its downsides (mainly comfort sitting on the floor!), it’s one of the lightest options available and a tremendous tool for aggressive hunters.
The Ameristep Doghouse is a bottom-of-the-range blind for hunters that shoot from blinds once or twice a year. The low price and easy setup make it the ideal purchase for these hunters. Don’t get me wrong, this blind is perfect for many people, but there are also higher-quality alternatives for only a little more cash that don’t price themselves out.
How to set up Ameristep Doghouse blind
The Ameristep Doghouse is crazy easy to set up. As soon as you remove it from its carry case, it will pop up before your eyes. I’ve never seen such an easy set up on a ground blind. You’ll need a minute to run the structural poles through and stake it down, and you’re ready to go.
How to fold up/take down Ameristep Doghouse ground blind
Initially, the Doghouse may seem tricky to take down, but once you ‘get it,’ it’s nearly as easy as setting it up. You fold it into its case position and then slide it into the case. It’s great that you don’t have to fight to get it into the case either. It’s well adjusted with easily enough space to slide it in. Hats off to Ameristep on this. The first time won’t take you more than two minutes, and after that, you’ll consistently tear it down in 15-20 seconds. Impressive.
Check out how these guys faired on their first time:
Ameristep Doghouse replacement parts
For replacement parts, look no further than the Ameristep website. They generally have better pricing on replacement parts. They also have replacements for features you can’t find on Amazon, such as the carry case.
Ameristep Doghouse blind size
The Ameristep Doghouse blind has a footprint of 60 inches by 60 inches and a height of 66 inches, or 5’6″. The small base size makes it very cozy for two hunters, and the height requires you to shoot from seated. You can just fit a bow in there. It works, but it’s cramped, and I’d recommend another blind for bowhunting.
The new “Run & Gun” model is significantly smaller, with a footprint of 55 inches by 55 inches and a height of 61 inches, or 5’1″. On the plus side, this cuts the weight down from twelve to eight pounds. That’s light!
Fiberglass poles for Ameristep Doghouse Blind
You can order replacement fiberglass poles for the Ameristep Doghouse Blind here, from Amazon.