Pairing Food Plots with Box Blind Setups
As turkey season starts to wind down across the country and we put our box calls and decoys back in storage, many hunters enter the summer slump. It’s that weird time of year again where there are no more game animal hunting seasons and deer season seems like a long way off. But luckily, there’s a lot you can do right now to make a big difference this fall. Before you hit the dreaded slump, turn your attention to pairing a box blind setup with an attractive early season food source. It’s the perfect way to keep busy in the offseason and avoid the summer slump blues.
Benefits and Challenges with Hunting in Box Blinds
Box blinds have a lot going for them when it comes to effective deer hunting. They’re comfortable and spacious, which makes it a whole lot easier to spend on all-day sits waiting for the right deer to walk by. Challenging and unpredictable fall weather can keep us out of the woods when we just use a climber or hang-on stand, but you don’t have to worry about that when you’ve got a high-quality box blind. They also keep your scent contained and hide your profile and movements from wary game animals. This is a huge advantage when hunting with a partner, cameraman, or even with kids. But maybe even more importantly, it provides a good space for you to draw your bow without getting busted when there are lots of observant eyes around. In some locations (i.e., edge of a clover or bean field), there could be dozens of deer all watching for danger, which would make stealthily drawing your bow pretty tricky.
That being said, there are a few potential disadvantages if you don’t plan ahead fully. For example, if a hit-list buck starts avoiding a hunting location completely, there’s really no stealthy or easy way to move an entire box blind around. If you have a climbing tree stand, you could easily sneak away to a different tree and/or location without making much noise at all. But you can’t exactly sneak a tractor around your property without wary bucks at least noticing. Granted, if it’s a farmed property anyway, they’re probably used to the sights and sounds of tractors, and may not view it as a threat. But this is why planting the right food plot in the right location and using the right box blind setup makes such a difference.
The Perfect Box Blind Setup for Different Food Plots
As we mentioned, box blind placement is going to be critical to your success this season, especially if you plan on bow hunting more than rifle hunting. For ethical bow shots, you need to be a heck of a lot closer to them than with a rifle. This means you can’t just deploy a box blind anywhere – you need to really think about how deer move through the area first. To counter their lack of mobility, you should try to position them strategically for different parts of the hunting season. To make them even more effective and sweeten the pot, if you will, you should consider pairing them with a food plot or agricultural food source as well. These areas will usually be the best place to put a box blind. Let’s look at some examples.
Annual Agricultural Fields
Whether you hunt over corn or soybeans in a given year, there’s no denying that big ag fields can really pull deer from far and wide. Whitetails in farm country will usually pattern their feeding schedule around one of these fields. It serves as a destination food source, and deer will usually spend most of the night feeding in and resting near them. How can you take advantage of that fact? Place a box blind on the field edge!
Wait, wait, it’s not always that easy. If you’re bow hunting in a box blind, you can’t put the blind up just anywhere along the edge. Deer tend to take a few common trails into these fields, and then slowly disperse into the center where there is more food available (due to better conditions and less browsing). While you could make a shot into the center of the field with a rifle, you’re headed for disappointment if you have a bow in hand and bucks out of reach. In this case, you really need to find a spot to funnel and congregate the deer movement so you can make a shot.
One example would be a converging trail system. Deer will usually take several trails from different bedding areas, but they might converge on a field corner, for example, as the main entry point. Inside and outside corners of fields are great pinch points for bow hunting whitetails. Placing a Muddy® Bull box blind in one of these corners near a trail system puts you within bow range of deer movement for an easier shot opportunity without spooking deer when you leave for the night. Additionally, placing your blind just within the woods may give you a better chance at a daylight shot, since reclusive bucks may hang out on the field edge until just before dark. If they stage up in front of your box blind, you may just get a shot off before the light completely fades.
Another example might be putting a water hole along the field edge to concentrate deer activity for a close shot. As we mentioned, field fringes are usually less productive and get picked over faster than the field centers. As a result, deer tend to cruise right past these areas. But digging a shallow water hole along the fringe can be just enough of a draw, especially in hot early season conditions, to make deer pause more than long enough for a good shot.
Perennial Food Plots
Another popular option for all-season hunting opportunities would be a clover or alfalfa field. Perennial spring food plots are green and lush through most of the year and help deer and turkeys get a head start each spring by being some of the first green forage available. But these plots can also be one of the best spots for deer hunting blinds as deer start to feel the pressure of the early season bow hunting crowd. Bucks will naturally want to avoid large open fields as they get more cautious, and these hidden food plots can be the best spot to catch them still wandering around during the day.
Large alfalfa hayfields can be hunted and approached much like the agricultural scenario above. However, you can also very effectively use the Muddy® Bale Blind if you routinely hay these fields. This allows you to hunt further out into the field with a bow than you would be able to with a typical box blind setup. Just make sure there’s some kind of natural draw or fence line nearby that you can use to sneak in and out without spooking deer.
Many clover food plots tend to be smaller in size, located in the timber, or consist of narrow travel lanes instead of large plots. These areas can be hunted a little easier than open fields because there is generally more cover surrounding them to sneak into and out of the box blind setup. Perennial clover plots usually respond best by planting seeds in the fall, along with a cereal grain nurse crop. This will give you a hunting opportunity this fall, but the real magic happens in the following few years. By next fall, your clover plot will likely be lush and full provided you do some maintenance on it throughout the summer. Hunting in a box blind above one of these fields can be magical on some properties.
Using These Box Blind Hunting Tips
As you consider the options above for a stellar early season deer hunt, you should always keep access and practicality at the front of your mind. If a certain box blind setup might be difficult to sneak into without disturbing deer, it’s probably not a good spot to sit. But if you can easily slip in and out without a deer noticing you, you have a chance at a successful bow hunt. And when you’re using the box blind hunting strategies above and pairing them with a good food plot, you have a really good chance.