When Double Bull Archery introduced their T5 blind in 2002, I cringed at the $500 price tag but eventually bit the bullet and shelled out the money to purchase one. Most blinds on the market at the time were noisy, shiny and cheaply made. The T5 seemed to take a different approach and answered the desires of hunters willing to pay for a quality product that would perform well. Since then, I have put my T5 through a variety of punishing hunting situations and weather conditions that would have left most blinds in a heap of shredded material and bent rods but the T5 still looks almost as good as the day I got it and has performed flawlessly.
In the mean time, Double Bull continued their innovation with the Matrix model and provided an adjustable window feature for more open viewing by turkey hunters, cameramen, or anyone that wanted to see more. Although the Matrix was well received, some hunters preferred the layout of the T5. Never one to rest on their laurels, Double Bull responded with the Dark Horse Ground Blind, a hybrid containing the best of both worlds as well as a few improvements.
The Dark Horse Ground Blind is touted by Primos (they purchased Double Bull in 2007) as the Cadillac of ground blinds. When I had the opportunity to try one, I was anxious to see if it lived up to that claim and to the same level of quality I had experienced with the T5.
The Primos Double Bull Dark Horse Ground Blind comes with a slip-over carrying case and the entire blind was surprisingly lightweight at around 20 pounds. The T5 carrying case was of the same material as the blind, but the Dark Horse case is constructed of a thin material. This is beneficial in reducing weight, but I suspect that it won't hold up to wear and tear like the heavier material previously used.
The framework of the Dark Horse Ground Blind is a series of durable fiberglass rods and metal hubs. This system allows for an impressively rapid setup. You simply position all of the hubs toward you, unfold one side flat, lift that side over your head and then push all of the remaining hubs up simultaneously. You actually wind up inside the blind as it "pops up" in a matter of seconds. Unzip the triangular door or open one of the windows to retrieve any gear that you have outside, close it back up and begin hunting.
Having grown accustomed to the spaciousness of the T5, I felt right at home in the comfort of the 25 square foot, 67-inch tall Dark Horse blind. Whether you are hunting by yourself and like to have room for all your gear and a comfortable chair without being cramped or you are hunting with a buddy or cameraman, the Dark Horse will leave you plenty of extra space to reposition for a shot.
A blind that sets up easily does little good if it doesn't stay up, but that is not a problem with the Dark Horse. Once it is expanded, the framework holds the pre-stretched fabric tight and keeps the blind open and secure. If it does stretch during use, a simple rotation of the framework hubs will effectively enlarge the frame, tighten the fabric and eliminate any wind flap.
Winds can also cause other problems when hunting from a ground blind. I was sitting on a hillside in my T5 deer hunting a few years ago. A strong wind gust came down the hill, picked the blind up over my head and sent it rolling away. I'm pretty sure I heard a few deer laughing inside the tree line at the sight of a hunter sitting in his chair with a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face watching his blind roll down the hill like a tumbleweed. That's the day I started using the tie downs on my T5. The Dark Horse also has four tie-down rings on each of the exterior walls as well as four corner stake rings on each of the interior corners. There is an additional ring on the roof exterior for keeping the roof up in heavy snow. I've also used it to tie on small cedar limbs and other vegetation for breaking up the outline of the blind.
Unlike the glaring, noisy, nylon material used by many other blind manufacturers, Primos uses a rugged, weather-resistant cotton and polyester blend fabric that stays quiet and doesn't shine in the sun. Double Bull stuck with the Predator line of camo patterns for many years, but the Dark Horse sports a new look. The Ground Swat pattern is advertised as a wide-open, non-situation specific design. According to Brooks Johnson, co-founder of Double Bull, the pattern outperformed all others in field testing. The mix of light brown and green colors and dark shadows blended in well when I placed it in a variety of habitats.
The viewing options from the Dark Horse Ground Blind are virtually limitless. Half of the blind uses the Silent Slide window system introduced in the Matrix which spans 180 degrees around the blind. It can be adjusted from completely closed to a 20-inch vertical opening or anything in between. You simply open one of the buckles on the webbing connected to the fabric, slide it to desired location and close it to lock it in place. The window can be covered with shoot-through netting to help concealment.
The other half of the blind contains the traditional shooting and viewing ports of the T5. The four shooting ports are 8 inches wide by 17 inches high leaving plenty of room to thread a bullet or arrow through. The two viewing ports run horizontally and are 24 inches wide by 7 inches high. They are covered with a camouflage netting to reduce game detection.
Primos also kept waterfowlers in mind when they designed the Dark Horse. In addition to the 360-degree viewing, you can also see what is above you. Like the T5 predecessor, the Dark Horse has a zip-open window in the roof for taking flying game. The zippers throughout the blind are heavy-duty, big enough to grab with gloved fingers and worked flawlessly and smoothly.
Like all good blinds, the interior of the Dark Horse is solid black which absorbs light and minimizes interior reflections and shadows. The fabric even extends five inches below the bottom of the blind frame to create a flap that inhibits light from entering and scent from escaping. All of the ports also have a fabric cover that can be clipped into place to reduce light entering the blind. Unlike the camouflage material used on the T5 window covers, the Dark Horse uses black material. In theory, the cover can be slowly removed from a window while game is looking at it since it will simply go from black to black. Some game can become cautious when they see the black, rectangles of the ports but camouflage shoot-through netting can be placed over them if necessary.
Double Bull Archery set themselves apart from the pack when they hit the market with their blinds about 10 years ago. Although Primos produces fine products, I was concerned that they might not live up to the Double Bull standard of quality when they acquired the company. Based on what I have seen in the Primos Double Bull Dark Horse Blind, that is no longer a concern. It is a well-built blind with all the comfort, ingenuity and ease of use of the T5 but with the added benefits of creative viewing options and a more versatile camo pattern.
The Primos Double Bull Dark Horse Blind is available at most large sporting goods stores or at www.primos.com  for $399.99. There is also a taller 74-inch center height model for more leg room or for recurve shooters at a price of $439.99.
Larry R. Beckett Jr. is a full time freelance writer, photographer and videographer. His greatest joy is spending time fishing, hunting and hiking with his wife and son. Larry discovered his enthusiasm for the outdoors at a young age and devotes much of his time trying to instill that same enthusiasm in future generations.