Planning Your Food Plot Strategy with Box Blinds

How to Use Box Blinds in Your Food Plot Strategy

Being a passionate deer hunter, springtime probably means you’re starting to think about which food plots you’re going to plant. But more importantly, you should also be thinking about how you will actually hunt those plots. Many people seem to jump right into things and start planting food plots just for the sake of having more food plots. Not nearly enough time is spent developing a food plot strategy that will help you when it really comes to killing deer in those areas. And when you stop to think about all the work that goes into a good food plot, why spend that time if it won’t help you? In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of using box blinds as a part of your food plot strategy, including when you should use them, where you should use them, and the best food plot species to use.

Why Use Box Blinds?

Obviously sitting in an enclosed space with a roof is more comfortable than sitting out in the open exposed to the elements. That’s especially true in sub-zero temperatures common for northern hunting seasons or rainy weather throughout the south. Staying warm and dry will keep you in the field longer, which could increase your chance of killing a deer. But box blinds have many other advantages over almost any other option.

For example, their design alone is enough to provide an almost scent-proof container that can hold your scent and keep downwind deer from winding you. This opens up opportunities to hunt marginal winds in a pinch, but mostly provides an additional level of security when you’re hunting a mature and reclusive buck that you really don’t want to pressure. They also conceal your movements and accidental noises much more than any other option, which can make things a little easier when you’re hunting a specific deer for several days in a row. But one of the biggest advantages to using box blinds in food plots for deer is that you can move it almost anywhere. No trees? No problem. For example, if you notice deer not sticking around on field edges and heading right to the center of the field, you can place the blind out where the deer are. Mark Drury explains the benefits of the Bull Box Blind in the video below.

The Muddy Bull was years in the making. Learn the story now.

When to Use Box Blinds

So now you see how box blinds can fit into your overall food plot strategy, but when are the best times of year or situations to actually use them? As mentioned above, any time the forecast includes rainy or uncomfortable weather conditions during a hunt, sitting in a box blind is a much more reliable option. By bringing along a small portable heater, you can feel almost snug in a box blind even on the coldest days. Another advantageous time to use box blinds is when the wind is not quite in your favor, but you really feel the need to hunt a certain area. There’s still a little risk involved in this approach, but sitting in an enclosed blind dramatically reduces the chance of a deer winding you even if it’s directly downwind. Similarly, when the wind is gusting strongly or swirling, sitting in an open tree stand or even in a pop-up ground blind doesn’t work so well. But a hard-sided box blind will stand up to the wind and keep your scent contained much better.

Best Locations for Box Blinds

As far as the best place to put a box blind, food sources are usually the number one choice. Remember that we are discussing your food plot strategy here, and so box blind placement and food plot placement are critical pieces of the puzzle. Large agricultural fields or attractive food can draw in deer in from neighboring bedding areas.

Mark Drury Explains how sets up a new property with a food plot and box blind hunting strategy.

Food Plot Species

The best food plots to pair with box blinds for large-scale hunting are some that are the most attractive and dependable. These include:

  • Standing corn (late season)
  • Standing beans, with or without a fall mix seeded in (late season)
  • Fall Mix with species like rye, wheat, and brassicas (late season
  • Alfalfa/clovers (early season)

While this attraction is very predictable, the hunting scenarios are not always so clear-cut. In these situations, you may not always be able to hunt a field edge or have the reach to hit a deer in the center of the field (i.e., you are bow hunting instead of rifle hunting). That’s when box blinds can really shine. You can leave the woods behind and bring a box blind out into the center of the field where all the action is. This allows you to design the food plot with unlimited blind placement in mind. This gives you the freedom to turn a large ag field into a mosaic of food plots, cover, screens, and unlimited possibilities as to where you hunt the field.

Food Plot Design and Shape

Food plot design and shapes can be taken advantage of such as:

  • Hourglass or pinch point in the center. This shape works perfectly for bow hunting out of box blinds when the blind is placed on the downwind side of the pinch.
  • Turkey foot shape with the box blind in the heel of the foot. This food plot design is ideal for gun and rifle hunters.
  • V-shaped plots with the box blind in the center. This works well for both rifle and bow hunting out of box blinds. Another attraction point such as a waterhole for deer or mock scrape can pull deer to the center of the plot.

When thinking about shape, and large-scale food plot design and shapes you need to remember the most critical aspect of hunting these areas. How will you access the blind? You should be able to sneak into and out of your blind location without alerting deer. Otherwise, it won’t be worth hunting. Try to locate your blind near a brushy windbreak or overgrown fence line so you can stealthily slip out of view as soon as you are on the ground. You can also, in the case of the large field food plot design, plant a food plot screen on your entry and exit route to the blind.

Could you use a box blind at the edge of small food plots in the woods? Theoretically, yes. But they probably wouldn’t be as productive. The goal of small hunting food plots or micro food plots are usually to catch deer (usually a specific buck) off-guard. Placing a box blind there would require you to clear a trail to it and raise a large blind into the air, which would really stand out. On the other hand, if your trail cameras reveal that big bucks always hit a certain clover plot in the woods during daylight hours before heading to larger destination fields, it might make sense to place a box blind near one of them. The key is making sure you can access it from a direction where you won’t spook the approaching deer. And you should always stay in the blind until you are reasonably sure all the bucks have moved off to the surrounding fields.

Don’t Forget to be Mobile

Box blind hunting is always thought to be from a fixed position, especially once the season starts. There are too many factors to be considered to move such large blinds or the pressure from moving the blinds might be more than you’re willing to put on your bucks. This train of thought is dangerous. Mark Drury used a “mobile box blind hunting strategy” to kill a 217 2/8” buck named “Danger”. This Muddy Moment from Drury Outdoors captures the hunting strategy behind the buck named “Danger”, it is a story behind the perfected use of the Muddy Bull Box Blind. When moving box blinds, always make sure the blind is secured to the platform and the platform is secured to the ground before hunting out of the box blind.

Bringing Your Food Plot Strategy to Life

Once you know why box blinds are useful and the best times and places to use them, you can start planting food plots. In larger agricultural field settings, you may not be able to control or willing to change the planting of corn or beans. In this case, look at a map of the fields and identify a good location with lots of visibility around it that you can sneak into and out of.

When do deer start to use that food source? If it’s a corn or bean field, deer might not start heavily using it until the late season. If you can leave a standing section of corn or beans near your box blind, and overseed cover crops on the cut sections, you can pretty much guarantee you will see deer throughout the late hunting season. This would allow you to stay warm while hunting colder late season conditions, and you could hunt deer further out into the field than you could if you were restricted to the field edge.

If you’re planning on starting a food plot from scratch, the process is somewhat the same – you need to have a great entry and exit strategy. But first, identify a good spot for a new plot and choose what food plot seed you want to use. Perennial clover plots work well for the early season, while brassicas, turnips, radishes, and cereal grains are all proven deer magnets during most of the fall hunting season. Planting a v-shaped food plot or an hourglass food plot design can help increase your visibility from a blind in wooded areas. Placing your blind right at the end of these designs can provide several shooting lane food plots that can be a very productive part of your food plot strategy. Ultimately, though, the best food plot design for deer is one that will allow you to hunt the deer without them knowing it, and box blinds can help you do exactly that.

Roosted = Roasted | 2018 Muddy Turkey Camp

2018 Muddy Turkey Camp Hunt

By: Chris Dunkin 

Our annual Team Muddy Turkey Camp took place in Southern Iowa over the past week and it was nothing short of a great time! Not only were we fortunate to wrap our tags around 24 big longbeards during the first 4 days of Iowa’s season, but we were able to spend time with our good friends who are now like family! 

The first hunt that we are airing is actually the last hunt from our camp.  Muddy team member Spencer Watts hunted hard for the first 3 days of the season but came up short.  On the Wednesday evening before the last day, Cody Bonner and I hit the gravel roads in search of birds we could set up on the next morning with Spencer. I can’t stress enough how valuable roosting birds the previous evening can be for a turkey hunter. Knowing where they are roosted and where they want to be is really the majority of the battle when it comes to filling tags.

During the course of the last hour of light, we found three different groups of birds that we had the opportunity to hunt the next morning. I gave Spencer a call and let him know that we had found some birds to hunt if he was willing to make the 2.5-hour drive back to Southern Iowa.  It didn’t take much convincing and Spencer was on his way. After Spencer arrived at my house we analyzed our options from our scouting trip and decided to head to a farm that we had just gained permission on a few days before. This particular farm seemed like a good option as we knew where the birds had roosted, and we knew that they liked to head to this particular hay field first thing in the morning.   

Our alarms went off at 4 am and a short while later we were southbound. Temps were cold, but there was no wind. After arriving at the farm we set up our Muddy VS360 ground blind and swivel-ease ground chairs in the middle of the hay field and waited for the sun to come up.  A short time later the birds were hammering and we knew we were in store for an exciting hunt.

We gave a few soft yelps and putts while the birds were still in the tree.  Shortly after fly down a big tom entered the field and was heading our direction.  When we hunt turkeys out of our Muddy ground blinds we like to put our decoys close to the blind for a few reasons. First off, if a tom hangs up there is a better chance that he’ll still be within range. The other big reason is that we really like the rush of having a fired up tom in our laps, and with the ultra-dark interior that the ground blinds provide, we know that we can get away with it.   

The big tom rushed to the setup and it wasn’t long before he was attacking our jake decoy.  I cut hard on the call to try to get him to gobble but he had fighting on his mind. Hearing gobbles at 6 steps is a rush. Spencer had finally seen enough and let his 12-gauge bark.  

The final day of the 1st season, and Spencer was tagged out on the 24th bird of our Muddy turkey camp.

We can’t thank all of the landowners enough who allow us to hunt. We know we couldn’t do this without them!  Over the course of the next several weeks, I want to encourage you to follow along on all of our Muddy outlets as we bring you short videos from our recent turkey hunts!   

Keys To Our Hunt  

  1. Roosting the birds the evening before:  If the birds aren’t there, you can’t kill them.   
  2. Setting up our MuddyVS360 ground blind in a location that we knew the birds wanted to be from prior scouting. Once we knew they roosted on the farm, we knew exactly where to place our ground blind for the morning hunt.   
  3. Persistence- Spencer hunted hard and finally on the 4th day found success.   

Check out more content and our product line at www.gomuddy.com. 

Spring Turkey Scouting and Trail Camera Tips

Pre-Season Turkey Scouting with Trail Cameras

By: Blake Aaron of Aaron Outdoors 

For those of us not located in the deep south, turkey season remains what feels like centuries away. However, don’t waste your time by wishing the preseason away. There is still a lot of work that can and should be done. Many people do not utilize their tools and time wisely to pattern turkeys for opening day. There are many “sweet” spots on your properties that can be concentrated on. These turkey scouting tips should come in handy so that you can have your #MuddyMoment on opening day!

A great tool to utilize in preseason scouting is a trail camera. Trail cameras are vital to patterning birds. They can provide you with information of where the birds are feeding, strutting, dusting, and even roostingMuddy’s lineup of cameras gives you multiple price point options to choose from as well as tons of features.  Utilizing trail cameras to do the turkey scouting for you not only saves you time, but they keep intrusion low and do the scouting while you’re not there.

Where to Setup Your Trail Cameras for Scouting Turkeys

1. Haul Roads (logging roads/field drives) 

Turkeys love to travel haul roads through farms because, like humans, turkeys tend to travel through the path of least resistance (most of the time). Haul roads make perfect strutting lanes for seasoned gobblers. Many times, the gobblers will fly down off of their roost and on to haul roads to strut which makes them visible to hens that could be roosted close by and easy for the hens to find. Lastly, haul roads are very good for hunting late in the spring season. The foliage and grass has now grown, but the haul roads remain short, making it a prime area for toms to continue to strut.  

2. Mature Cedar Trees/Dusting Areas 

Cedar trees are a perfect place to set up cameras in the preseason because turkeys will use them to stay out of the weather. It also provides them a great place to dust. Turkeys will stay in flocks and dig out holes to dust in under the cedars. Where there are hens, there will be toms. These males frequently check out these dusting areas and use them as strutting zones as well to attract those dusting hens. Turkeys will use dusting areas throughout the season so finding these types of areas could be key to your success this season.  

3. Food Plots 

When hunters think of food plots they think of deer hunting, however, food plots are great places to utilize your trail cameras for preseason scouting. Even after a long winter that has led to lack of food in the plot, turkeys will continue to use the plot as a food source due to the amount of insects and worms in the ground that are easy to find. Also, green plots such as clover or wheat (if not too tall) will be a super hot spot to find a big tom(s). If you have more than one plot to hunt, utilize trail cameras to tell you which plot is being frequented the most by the turkeys as well as what times.  Plot watcher mode, which is a feature on the Pro Cam 20 and Pro Cam 20 bundle, is a great tool to use on large food plots.  Plot watcher mode allows you to custom set the time and amount of photos your camera takes, even if not being triggered by an animal.  For example, you can set your Pro Cam 20 to take photos every minute from 7 am to 10 am and you’ll be able to see if turkeys were in the plot at that time.

These are just a few areas that you can use to do some preseason scouting on your properties with your trail cameras. The more you scout, the better chance you will have at punching your turkey tag this spring! Good luck!

Summer Checklist | Are You Ready For Deer Season?

Summer Deer Hunting Checklist

If you live and breathe the pursuit of hunting whitetails the summer is obviously not a time to relax! For those of us ate up enough with hunting, the understanding is that deer season is a 365 day a year event. Sure our fortunes as deer hunters are made mostly during November, but we spend the other days, weeks, and months daydreaming about and preparing for deer season. In fact so much thought and prepping is put into deer season that it would be astonishing to see the thoughts and the to-do list drawn out on paper. The thoughts, ideas, chores, and what-ifs in your head should now be organized and prioritized into a deer hunting checklist!

Take notes and check off these to-do’s as you complete them. Whether you are just a couple months from deer season or just week if not days away from it, now is the time to ensure you are ready! Some may be a higher priority than others for you depending on your situation and property, but overall this summer deer hunting checklist should help organize what you need to be done!

After looking through the checklist keep reading for more detailed explanations of why these items made the list!

Offseason Deer Hunting Checklist

  • Plant/Manage Food Plots
  • Buy License/Read regulations
  • Utilize Minerals, Supplements, and Bait (or remove bait before season)
  • Check and Run Trail Cameras (full batteries, empty formatted SD cards)
  • Gather an Inventory (trail camera survey)
  • Scout for the Early Season
  • Tree Stand, Tripod Stand, and Box Blind Safety Check
  • Safety Harness and Safe-Line check
  • Sight in/Practice Bow and Firearm
  • Create Detailed and Organized Maps
  • Think Through Your Hunting Pack

Food Plots

Summer is food plot season.  Planting food for your deer not only provides extra protein for growth but forage to sustain your herd in the cold weather of the late fall and winter.  Planting food plots takes several easy steps although it can be time-consuming.

First, test the soil to find the pH or acidity level of the ground you wish to cultivate for your food plot.  Finding the acidity will help you decide the next steps such as liming and seed choice.  Lime is a base which helps bring balance to unbalanced soils.  If your chosen area has had the nutrients washed away on a steep grade or is higher in elevation, then you will want to find the right amount of lime per acre needed to balance the pH to help optimize seed growth. Second, choosing the right seed for the pH is critical.  Typically seed manufacturers will have the information on each seed and what pH the plant will grow in best. Taking into consideration what your goals are for a given location you will want to plant accordingly.  Having a mix of high protein plants with high carbs and sugar –rich plants can help you create a year-round optimized buffet for your whitetails.

In some cases, access to farm equipment is not possible.  Through the power of science, seed manufacturers have been able to develop seed blends perfect for simply throwing on the untilled surface of the earth.  Typically, these are perfect for food plots in the woods where small clearings make for perfect ambush locations.  To create a food plot in the woods it is important to spray the weeds and rake away any debris like leaves, rocks, and sticks. Seeds must hit the open dirt.  Carry a sturdy metal garden rake and have durable work gloves to protect from blisters.  Cut the canopy of the trees back as much as possible to maximize sunlight.  Lack of sunlight is what kills most food plot efforts.

Create/Organize Your Maps

As we review the surroundings it is a bet practice to review first from the sky. Whether you use Google earth or a physical topographical map it is important to mark on map points of interest to scout.  The aerial review provides a fresh perspective and can open new opportunities for stand locations.  By paying close attention to the contours of the land you can find hidden travel corridors which guide deer travel such as saddles and benches, hidden field corners and bottlenecks.  Marking on map points of interest to scout helps organize your efforts and make the best use of your time.  Physical maps like those made from HunTerra Maps are a handy tool to be able to have at home or in the truck

Plan What to Do with Your Trail Cameras

In the interest of time management, it is important to make trail cameras a part of your summer scouting checklist. Ensure each camera is in peak functioning form by checking each before hanging.  Check the connections at the batteries for corrosion.  Moisture can corrode metal coils and render a camera useless. The last thing you want is to set a camera up in a prime location and not capture any photos due to faulty or damaged wires.  Always buy fresh batteries and use cleared and formatted SD cards to optimize performance when scouting for deer in the summer.  Double check the straps on used to hold your camera to a tree are not dry rotted and risk dropping your expensive camera.  When setting up a camera make sure it is facing North to ensure pictures will not be ruined by glare.  Sun glare ruins photos at peak deer activity in the early mornings.  Check to make sure all branches are out of the way of the camera that could trigger the motion sensor as a false alarm! Summer is a critical time for inventory, so make sure you are utilizing them as best as possible. Proven summer strategies for trail cameras include mineral sites, trail camera surveys, time-lapse over food sources, and transition areas between bedding areas and food.

Mineral, Supplements, and Bait

Protein and mineral supplements are a storied part of any spring and summer scouting season.  In the heat of the summer, it is the best way to capture the photos to take inventory of the deer you really want to chase.  Especially in areas where the soil is lacking nutrients, supplemental feeding and mineral sites in states where it is legal may be your best option to help push the growth of your herd during the growing months.  Protein supplements are valuable and research tells us that finding a mix with 16-18% protein is optimal.  Minerals are also important for bucks and does.  During gestation and lactation does have high requirements for calcium and magnesium to supplement their growing fawns. A buck will utilize calcium and phosphorus by storing it in his body to use throughout antler growth.  Growing bucks require tremendous amounts of minerals as they are growing their bodies and their headgear! Be sure to take out these bait sites well before deer season if required by law!

Build Cover

As important as food is to the whitetail so too is cover.  Mature whitetails, both bucks and does, require safety.  Remember, deer are food and they know it all too well. Creating a safe place near food is a recipe for success. The best way to create your own safe place for deer is through the use of a chainsaw and hinge cutting trees. While cutting mature hardwoods is best under the eye of a trained forestry professional, there is plenty one can accomplish with a chainsaw properly cutting small to medium sized trees and scrub brush of little timber value to create a thick jungle of safety for deer. Cut properly, hinge cut trees will still produce browse for deer further increasing the value for deer. When cutting trees and brush it is important to use the following accessories.  First, always wear eye protection.  Wood chips and dirt flying everywhere from being cut can pose a serious threat to your eyes and face. A full face guard is advised. Second, always have a tool kit with the right equipment to deal with chains that may jump the track. A spare sharpened chain is a valuable asset as well.

Stands

Getting your stands ready for the fall is a ritual of the season.  Checking stands for safety is of utmost importance.  Straps in particular that have exposed to weather for any amount of time in the fall and winter ought to be checked for weakness.  A dry rotted strap can easily break putting you into a rather dangerous situation.  Inspect the cables on all stands to look for any weaknesses and check the bolts for rust which can ultimately deteriorate the safety of a tree stand.

Glass

Resist the urge to sit in your stand to scout during the summer.  There is no sense if muddying up your area when you can scout fields from afar.  A lot of hunters have lost the art of simply glassing for bachelor groups. The reliance on trail cameras for the majority of their scouting has left this tactic underappreciated. Glassing summer food sources and travel routes from several hundred yards away can be critical when developing an early season hunting strategy. While basic 10×42 binoculars are plenty efficient, having a spotting scope with real magnification power like 20-60x60mm puts you far enough away from the summer action to not risk spooking deer.

REMEMBER: As always in the hot summer months and even towards the beginning of deer season it is important to always check for ticks!  Illnesses from ticks are an epidemic and hunters are perhaps at the most risk.  Always remember to spray down with deet or pre-wash your clothing in permethrin.  Keep all clothing sealed off to prevent ticks from crawling onto you.  A full body check after you exit the field is necessary and make sure to hang your clothes out after a hunt to let all the ticks crawl off.

The dog days of summer are no time to relax for the committed deer hunter. This is when the homework happens to create success in the fall.  While it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done, setting a summer deer hunting checklist can help you organize your time efficiently and leave nothing to chance when the weather turns cold!

tree stands

What Style of Hunter are You?

Tree Stand Matching Guide | What Style of Hunter are You? 

There is no doubt that each hunter has a preferred method of hunting and many incorporate a variety of hunting styles that change with the season, terrain, and the weather. Even though it is more typical to stalk hunt in many of the western states and often favorable in some Midwestern states, hunting from elevated stands has steadily grown in popularity across all regions.  The right tree stand can be the difference in being able to sit the hours needed to make a successful harvest of that elusive trophy buck or getting down early and missing the opportunity entirely. There are a variety of elevated stands available regardless of which style of stand hunter you are.

Which Style of Hunter are You?

Each hunter has his/her own style when it comes to hunting. Sometimes the year, weather, or property steers the style of hunting you might go with for the year. However, taking a look in the general sense at your hunting strategies and tactics will allow you to make a conclusion on which style hunter you are, this later down the road can help you make decisions on which gear is right for your style.

The One and Done

The One and Done hunter is often only in the woods opening day and a few following days while the pressure is low and the odds are high for a successful harvest.

The One and Done hunter often is going to spend their time in the stand opening day of gun season or the opener in the early season. Often these hunters are filling the freezer and the lack of pressure of deer early in the season offers high odds of a harvest. Habitually deer are going to be easy to pattern early season if the hunter has had game cameras out or has done any scouting. Deer will use the same corridors, pinch points, staging areas, feeding areas, food plots and mineral licks as they have leading up to opening day and until the pre-rut rituals begin.  The One and Done also would apply to those hunters that only appear in the woods the opener of gun season or perhaps the weekend after.

The Family Man/Soccer Mom

The Family Man or the Soccer Mom hunter is going to be limited to the days and hours hunting because of family obligations.

The Family Man or Soccer Mom are often going to frequent the same stand that was erected preseason for the lack of time in scouting and moving stands, however, this is not always the case. Some of these hunters are skilled with their time and resources and can plan according to the limited time they have available. They make due with what they have, and hit the woods at sporadic times throughout the week and snag any available weekend that may appear.

The Public Land Gypsy

The Public Land Gypsy will be more apt to move around a lot on parcels of public land and wildlife management areas. Often not having the option of leaving a stand on the land overnight.

When hunting public land, using topo maps or maps that the state has issued for public land use, a hunter goes in Nomad mode seeking the perfect spot for the highest odds of game traffic. The diehard public land hunter is not going to stick to the edges where more pressure is put on game from those hunters who fail to wander into the heart of the property.

The Weatherman 

The Weatherman hunter is one who will hunt a variety of stands specifically for what the wind direction or weather is doing.

A Weatherman hunter is going to plan the hunt based on wind direction and what is projected by the weather radar.  Naturally, this style hunter will have several stands to choose from on any given hunt. A “fair-weather” hunter can be placed in this category for the fact that they will choose an enclosed stand for the day’s hunt or forego the hunt altogether. The weatherman can usually hunt often, but can also be limited to hunting days as they often single out cold and high-pressure fronts.   

The Paparazzi

The Paparazzi hunter is going to place their stands depending on what their game camera strategy has proven in the area.

 

The Paparazzi hunter is motivated by what the game cameras have captured, having a “hit-list” of bucks for the season. The paparazzi hunter will strategically place stands in the areas that the hit-list bucks are known to travel proven via trail camera results. The paparazzi hunter will take advantage of a variety of stand types and will hunt long hours any chance they get.

The Food Plot Hugger

The Food Plot Hugger hunts only over food plots or agricultural fields.

Food Plot hunters tend to place stands hugging the edges of green fields, food plots, and agricultural fields or corridors and staging areas leading to the food sources. It is not rare to find that this style of hunter will only hunt during afternoon hours due to the natural instinct for deer to frequent these areas before, or at sundown. If the terrain allows for food plot hunters to access a stand without busting deer off the food source, some hunters will hunt these stands in the morning hours.

The Rut Crazed Hunter

The Rut Crazed hunter spends the majority of their time on the hunt during the prime rut paying attention to rut funnels and high traffic areas.

A Rut Crazed hunter plans long hunts around the captivating buck rut. It is not rare for the rut-crazed hunter to spend all day in the stand for several consecutive days in a row or for an entire week or more during legal hunting hours. During a strong rut, it is not hard for the rut crazed hunter to sit all day due to the anticipated excitement of deer traffic or rut action that could unfold at any given moment.

The Full-Time Sportsman

The Full-Time Sportsman is diehard and will be physically in the woods every waking hour possible during the open season. They have no strict hunting preferences and continuously studies the terrain, moon phases, barometric pressure, and often relate to the Farmer’s Almanac or the old timer’s tales. They are often the most “experience-educated” hunter among all the styles.

The Full-Time Sportsman uses every method available, at one point or another, during the season in pursuit of the elusive trophy buck. Often, but not in all cases, the full-time sportsman is a trophy hunter and reserves tags for “Hit-List” bucks that have been following through game camera photos and chance encounters from previous seasons. This style hunter is going to have a variety of stands, if not every type of stand, available to them for a variety of hunting situations.

Note: It is not uncommon for a hunter to be any combination of the various styles!

 Match a Tree Stand To Your Style of Hunting

With the numerous styles of tree stands available, finding the perfect stand for the hunter’s style of hunting doesn’t take much research. The various type stands are typically hang-on/lock-on stands, climbing stands, single and double ladder stands, tripods, quadpods, and box blinds.

Hang-On Stands

Hang-on stands, also known as lock-on stands are light stands that incorporate a platform and seat for the main unit that is strapped onto a tree by ratchet straps, chains, or wire cable. This type of stand requires a climbing step system, also referred to as climbing sticks, to be affixed to the tree to gain access to the stand. Hang-on stands are often used in conjunction with ladder stands, or other style stands for a cameraman or a second person stand.

 

Muddy Outdoors offers a variety of hang-on stands that fit the purpose of a variety of hunter styles. The lightweight Vantage Point weighing in at a mere 13 pounds offers four adjustment options for the platform with a flip-back footrest and adjustable Triplex foam waterproof seat that flips up and out of the way for standing. The Vantage Point is designed to be packable with the Muddy Outdoors Climbing System (sold separately) and carried backpack style with the straps included.

Hunting Styles Supported: The Weatherman and Public Land Gypsy

 Climbing Stands

Climber Stands are not favorable for all hunters because they are the most challenging to use among the various types of stands. The advantages of being able to use a climber allow the hunter to hunt in areas that may not be accessible to other type stands or can be carried in and used on newly found signs. Muddy Outdoors offers two climber stands, The Stalker Climber and The Woodsman Climber.

The Woodsman Climber offers all-day comfort with a 2” thick foam sling-style seat and backrest with a padded armrests. The non-slip slats on the foot platform and rubber coated foot straps assist in safe climbing and the flex cable Hybrid Mounting System with a spring-loaded pin for quick adjustment. The Woodsman Climber includes an accessory bag and padded back straps for easy carrying in the woods.

Hunting Styles Supported: Climbing stands are ideal for the public land gypsy, the weatherman, the rut-crazed hunter, the full-time sportsman, as well as, the paparazzi; those hunters who will likely frequent various stands depending on deer movement.

Ladder Stands

Ladder stands seem to be the most popular, widely used style of elevated tree stand because of the ease of use by any age or size of hunter. Ladder stands also give the hunter an option of single or double stands. Muddy Outdoors offers several models of both single ladder stands and double ladder stands. The single ladder stand offering is The Boss Hog, The Grandstand, The Huntsman, The Odyssey, and The Skybox.

The Huntsman is the most economical single ladder stand in the Muddy Outdoors single ladder stand series, offering an extremely comfortable flip-back seat, padded armrests and a deep platform, many other features found in more expensive stands. The Grandstand is the Cadillac of the Muddy Outdoors single ladder stand series. The Grandstand offers a spacious, comfortable flip-back seat to allow the hunter to take advantage of the full foot platform. The shooting rail is a stable prop for gun or crossbow hunting and can be flipped up and secured out of the way for archery hunting. The extra wide, angled steps and handrail adds additional security climbing or descending the stand. The 90-pound weight of this stand results in placing it in areas that the stand will most likely sit for a while.

Hunting Styles Supported: Ladder stands are the perfect solution for the rut-crazed hunter, the family man or soccer mom, the food plot hugger, and the full-time sportsman; those hunters that strategically place a stand and spend many hours hunting out of that stand, especially if they are taking another hunter!

Hunting Tripod and Quadpod Stands

Tripods and quadpod stands give hunters an advantage when there isn’t a perfect tree line or a straight tree for stand placement. This type stand can be used on the edges of the field, in the open, or tucked away in the timbers. Muddy Outdoors offers The Liberty that features a center mount 360° swivel Flex-Tek seat and padded shooting rail, and an easy climb and entry ladder. The Liberty has a 16′ height from ground to shooting rail and weighs in at 132 pounds.

The Nomad Tripod is a compact 12-foot high ladder stand that has an easy entry ladder. The comfortable Flex-Tek seat rotates 360° with a padded 36″ high shooting rail and a steel foot rail. The Nomad might be compact in stature, but it has a weight rating of 500 pounds. The Quad is a 12′ high stand featuring two platform-mounted Flex-Tek chairs and a spacious 57″ x 57″ platform.  A wrap around padded shooting rail is at the perfect height of 36″. The stand is rated for 500 pounds and only weighs 110 pounds. The unique feature of The Quad is that Muddy Outdoors offers a camouflage blind with a roof height measuring 84″ tall in the center and completely encloses the platform portion of this stand. This feature allows this blind to be a great mobile blind similar to a box blind.

Hunting Styles Supported: The weatherman, the family man/soccer mom, the one and done,  and the full-time sportsman will all find these stands the perfect solution for their time on the hunt,

Box Stands/Box Blinds

The last type of stand discussed here, the box blinds or box stands, are usually a little more permanent or require more effort to move around a parcel of land. Muddy Outdoors offers the Gunner and The Bull. Both Muddy Outdoors box blinds offer an optional ladder system and platform. The Gunner is made of insulated Therma-Tek panel sides and features a 70″ x 30″ locking door, with 33″ x 13″ windows. Other convenient features are a drink holder, a gear shelf, and a storage box. The blind, without the platform, weighs 250 pounds and is weight rated up to 500 pounds. A 5 foot, 4’x4′ metal platform is available for this stand which offers an easy access ladder and landing platform complete with handrails.

The Bull is the Mac-Daddy blind in the Muddy Outdoors stand line-up and is typically a stand that is placed in an ideal hotspot and left there for several seasons; such as the edge of a greenfield, agriculture field, a vast area, or on a rise overlooking a bluff or valley. The Therma-Tek system offers a weatherproof, noise-free and scent-free blind by layering high-density foam, tempered hardboard, and marine carpet, all encapsulated in exterior grade UV protected PVC.  When used with the 10′ foot Muddy Tower, The Bull includes a ground anchor with cable and turnbuckle and four 24″ stakes for a secured tie-down system. The easy access ladder with handrail adds security when ascending and descending the stand. The 43″ x 20″ deep platform landing offers two handrails for security when entering the full-length, lockable entry door. The window configuration allows this blind to be used for gun or bow hunting.

Hunting Styles Supported: There is no doubt that this blind makes the perfect hunting solution for the food plot hugger, the weatherman, the family man/soccer mom, the one and done, and the full-time sportsman.

Each model of the Muddy Outdoors tree stands includes safety harnesses which should be properly worn every time a hunter uses an elevated stand.  Muddy Outdoors not only offers a variety of great stands in several styles for every type hunter, but also offers an assortment of stand and blind accessories that bring convenience to any style hunter on the hunt.

Which style hunter are you? Do you have the gear and stands to match your style? Would these matchings make hunting a lot easier for you? Write below and give us your feedback! If you are interested in learning more click the blog below!

Best Trail Camera Strategies for Your Summer

Trail Camera Strategies to Start This Summer

If you’re anything like us, you eat, sleep, and dream about deer hunting throughout the year. If there is a winter storm coming through, we’re thinking about the rut. If we’re sweating through a summer heat wave, we’re thinking about how to get ready for opening day. If that describes your lifestyle too, you probably also enjoy watching deer throughout the year by using trail cams. There’s just something special about trail cameras and how you can stealthily keep track of the deer herd on your property without them having a clue. Sure, you could start glassing fields or summer food plots in the evenings, but that takes more time than most of us actually have. Plus, you might not have any fields near you; maybe you hunt deer in a big woods setting where you can’t easily watch wildlife. These are the situations where having a few hunting cameras hung in key spots on your property can make a big difference to your hunting strategies next fall. Here are a few trail camera strategies to get you started this summer.

Top Trail Camera Strategies for This Summer

It’s not quite as simple as just throwing out a few trail cams in the woods and seeing what walks by. Sure, you could try that approach and you might get to see some wildlife eventually. But to get the most pictures, to get high-quality pictures, and to get information that will actually help you next fall, you need to focus on putting your trail camera in a spot that focuses deer traffic. Here are the best trail camera strategies for the summer.

Food Plots/Agricultural Fields

Food plots are great spots for getting pictures of deer for a few reasons. One, does and bucks alike need lots of calories in the spring to bounce back from the stress of winter. Throughout the summer, they need the food tonnage to build up their body weight and grow antlers to prepare for fall. This means high quality, protein rich forage! If you live in a forested area with very little agricultural food available, a single food plot is even more attractive to deer and your results will be better. Since it’s so critical for their survival, it’s probably the best place to hang trail cams on these locations.

For larger agricultural fields (e.g., corn, soybeans, alfalfa, etc.), the best location for game cameras might seem like the middle of the field where you can see the most deer. But since deer are creatures of the edge and will usually have set travel patterns throughout the summer, the best spot is generally along the field edge near a dominant trail. For smaller food plots (e.g., clover, cereal grains, brassicas, etc.), you can place a trail cam on a post in the middle of the plot without any issues. But really it comes down to just finding a spot that concentrates the activity and facing the game camera in the right direction. One thing to keep in mind is that facing cameras any direction but north will inevitably produce some glare in pictures at some time of the day.

Bedding Areas

Another reliable spot to capture deer pictures on your trail cams this summer is around their bedding area. After feeding throughout the night in destination fields or browsing in cutover areas, deer will shift to daytime bedding areas to chew their cud and rest. Often does and fawns will rest near or even within feeding areas, while bachelor groups of bucks will bed further away. Taking a quick scouting stroll from feeding areas and along main trails can lead you to bedding areas. They’re often easy to spot because of the oval depressions in the grass or weeds. If you’ve ever tackled a few habitat projects on your property, hinge cuts are great bedding areas to check out.

If you’ve designated some bedding areas as deer sanctuaries that are strictly off-limits throughout the year, try installing trail cams along trails on the fringe of the sanctuary instead. Be cautious about checking them too much towards the end of the summer when you want to really hold deer in-place. The bugs will likely be bad enough to convince you to only go once or twice the whole summer anyway. More than likely, you’ll find some small bedding areas outside of these sanctuaries too that you can set and forget until the end of the summer.

Travel Corridors

Of course, any main trails and travel corridors between the two areas above are also great spots to intercept deer movement. With a little desktop scouting, you can easily map these areas and find good potential corridors, but you likely have a few tree stands already hung in these areas anyway. Clear out the herbaceous vegetation in a spot along one of these trails so that you can get a clear trail camera picture. These small openings can also make deer pause long enough for a good picture.

When it comes to positioning your trail cams along trails, the common instinct is to place them so that the camera is off to the side facing perpendicular to the trail. Unfortunately, unless deer are really slow-moving, your camera will likely trigger too late and you’ll only get pictures of their rear end – hardly useful from a hunting perspective. Instead, try positioning your camera facing up or down along the direction of deer travel. Granted, you’ll still get pictures of deer moving away from you half the time, but you’ll get pictures of deer facing the camera the other half of the time.

Mineral Sites/Mineral Stations

Throughout the spring and summer, whitetails love to get an extra dose of minerals from the soil and plants around mineral stations. Lactating does need extra minerals to support their fawns, while Bucks need minerals to build their bony antlers. If you keep the station going for a couple years, you can easily train deer to keep coming back to it as a seasonal mineral source since fawns will be raised to use it. Eventually, the stations often become huge craters where deer have eaten the soil away. Luckily, you can easily set up a mineral site by scraping the debris away and exposing the soil in a given spot. Then you can incorporate some crushed mineral into the top inch of soil or simply place a block or rock on top of it. You can even place it on a semi-rotting stump, which will slowly absorb the minerals as well. But that’s about all it takes to set a station up.

If you’re installing one of these sites expressly for pictures, it’s best to locate it in a shaded understory area. Pictures from trail cams along fields and exposed sites often suffer from lots of glare, which greatly reduces the quality of the photos. But pictures within shaded areas can turn out crisp and clear any time of the day since light doesn’t interfere.

Water Sources

The final place that works great for trail cams are water sources, especially when paired with mineral sites. After eating something salty, we all crave a drink of water – deer are no different. Deer crave sodium due to the high amount of water they get in their metabolism during spring and summer. However, as the summer progresses and other waterholes or creeks go dry, a small water hole next to a mineral site will pull deer in. If you have natural wetlands, ponds, or streams on your property, you can easily locate mineral sites near them for the easiest solution. If you don’t have any water sources, you can easily sink a bucket, small rubber tank, or kid’s pool into the dirt to let it fill with rainwater. You can keep it cleaner by simply refilling it once you check cams. During hot summers or in southern, more arid areas, water sources can be the absolute best place for a trail camera setup, since it is such a draw for them.

How to Hang Trail Cameras and When to Check Them

 Once you’ve identified the spots and trail camera strategies you want to install this summer, it’s time to actually get them out. As already mentioned, pay attention to the direction you face your cameras, as south facing cameras will get lots of unusable pictures with a heavy glare. The one time you can get away with south facing trail cams is if you are in a forested or heavily shaded area. One of the best trail camera tips you’ll hear is to check the batteries and then recheck them to make sure they are fresh. You should also generally clear out some of the tall weeds, grasses, and even some brush in the area so you can avoid lots of false triggers. It’s a really deflating experience when you check your camera to find 1,000 pictures and 900 of them are of swaying grass. You can change the sensitivity level on many cameras to reduce this problem, but it still doesn’t hurt to make a small opening in front of the lens. Bring a simple folding saw with you when you enter the woods so you can easily cut any obstacles down.

Depending on where you’re hanging trail cameras, you may want to leave a trail to get back to them. For new deer bedding areas in big woods spots, for example, consider putting out some trail markers or trail marking tacks to help you find them again. This isn’t a good idea on public land, obviously, as would-be thieves could follow your tacks/markers right to the camera. But it’s a nice option for private land.

As far as when or how often to check your trail cams, it’s a tough call. The less you check them, the less invasive it is and more discrete your spying will be. After all, if you set it and forget about it for a few months, you can basically guarantee that you won’t interfere with the natural deer movement on your property. On the other hand, if your camera malfunctions after only a week of being outdoors, you could miss out on an entire summer’s worth of intelligence, which is just a terrible feeling (we’ve probably all had it happen at some point). Besides, we all feel the temptation to check them weekly. It’s kind of like Christmas morning when you get your chip and start to glance through them on the computer. If you have fresh batteries and haven’t had any issues with your camera before, let it sit in the woods for a month or two at a time, if you can bear it. If you’re not sure about your gear or if the opportunity is too great, then you’ve got two options. You can either charge right in making lots of noise (e.g., starting a chainsaw once in a while, driving an ATV, etc.), which will push deer away well before you spook them at close range. Or you can stealthily sneak in with scent-eliminating clothing and rubber boots to be incognito. It’s up to you and how your property is managed.

Good luck with your cameras this summer. With any luck, you’ll get some great pictures of deer to help guide your bow hunting on opening day this fall!

Planning and Hunting Food Plots in the South

Southern Food Plots and Deer Hunting

Hunting and land management practices in the southern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi require somewhat of a different strategy than that of the Midwestern states. While we often focus on the Midwest, we can’t ignore the need for some accurate tips and strategies focused specifically on the south. The south requires a very different set of tactics, strategies, and tips. Several factors are responsible for this of which population density, soil type, terrain, median climate, lack of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) areas, browse quality and quantity all weigh in. Hunters owning or leasing property, or even hunt clubs in and around the southeast and southern regions utilize food plots in the summer, fall, and winter months not only for the well-being of the deer herd but also for successful hunting.

Proper land management practices are a direct influence on the health and benefit of the deer herd of the managed habitat. A popular concept stands true among land management philosophy, “Preparation for next year’s hunt begins at the end of this year’s season.” With that in mind, no two plans will be exactly alike for different tracts of land; the individuality of the property will factor into what core needs will develop the best sustainable habitat.

Food Plots in the South

The southern and southeast regions of the United States are more populated per capita by the human population, and although there are ample farmland and vast areas of unpopulated land, the acreage numbers of agricultural land are nothing compared to that of the Western and Midwestern states. Add to that the fact that soil comparisons rank the southern soils as some of the most nutrient-leached soils by average. The mild median temperatures do allow more native habitat browse year around, but the supplemental planting of food plots provide nutrition to deer during the most critical nutritionally stressed periods and is vital to the nutrition and health of the deer herd. Not only do food plots assist in the nutritional health of deer herds, but also these food plots are a huge factor in providing a viable method to attract deer during the hunting season.

When planning to put in a new food plot location or revive an old plot, deciding what to plant and choosing the prime location for a stand, several considerations factor into the success of that food plot. Considerations such as site selection, crop selection, soil preparation, planting methods, and stand placement ideal for that location. Other factors such as median temperatures, average drought, weeds, deer population, amount and quality of natural browse, and proximity of agricultural fields in the area are also important to the success of perennial food plots.

Food Plot Site Selection

 The size, shape, and distribution of food plots are not only important to utilizing those food plots for nutrition; it is critical in successfully attracting deer during hunting season. As a general rule, factoring in the palatable native plants, nuts, and browse, 1-5% of the entire acreage of managed property should be planted, and often as much as 10% if the plot locations are available. Larger food plots will sustain crops longer because they can survive heavy browsing by game animals. Often, agricultural fields that are on the property or the property has access to can be used according to the crops planted and are ideal for stand placement.

Typically, food plots for deer will range from half an acre to as much as five acres. Keep in mind that deer will usually utilize the edges of larger plots in the daylight hours, but usually will feed in the center of larger plots only during the cover of night. Feeding in the cover of night will meet the goal of enhancing nutrition for the deer herd but will not benefit hunting from an attraction standpoint. Long, irregular shape plots offer deer easy use and access to food plots with the safety of some edge cover; whereas long, even-sided plantings seem to make deer weary for lack of edge cover.

Location, purpose, size, sun and shade exposure of the food plot are all dynamics to the use of that area, but none of these are more important than the soil type and condition. The requirements of the crop and the season being planted will largely be a factor as to where it can be planted.

Food Plot Soil Preparation

Before crop choice can be considered for a certain food plot, it is important to have the soil tested to see what each plot needs to create prime soil for planting crops. Soil testing can be done through many county extension offices for a fairly economical fee. It is important to follow the instructions on the soil testing kits when obtaining the soil samples. Once the results have been confirmed, it is time to prepare the soil for planting.

Soil fertility is going to depend on several elements but mainly soil structure/texture and pH.  For the southern/southeast regions the most productive soils are going to be found in the Black Belt Region, alluvial regions such as river beds, streams bottoms, and deltas which will be comprised of a combination of sand, silt, clay, and gravel. The deep sandy soils of the Coastal Plains are low in fertility due to a high rate of nutrient leaching in those areas. Soils that have a finer texture with some gravel will naturally hold more moisture than that of coarser texture with some gravel.

The pH numbers are classified as basic with a pH range of 7.1 to 14.0, neutral with a pH range of 7.0, and acidic with a pH range of 0 to 6.9.  Each plant is going to have a range that is tolerable to its growth and sustainability. The popular range of the greatest variety of plant species and summer legumes and fall plant species is 6.5 to 7.0 pH. It is evident that a vast amount of land across the southern and southeast regions encompass highly acidic soils because of the number of pine tree species found in those acres; pine trees thrive well in acidic soils. Alluvial bottomlands commonly have a more neutral pH which hardwoods grow well in.

Soil fertility doesn’t stop at pH levels, the amount of phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients are important. One to two tons of Ag lime per acre is often enough to adjust pH and should be applied right before or immediately after plowing and should remain at the root level of the plant. Rotating certain legumes in summer plots can help build many of these nutrients and combined with proper lime and fertilizing, the result is fertile soil for planting.

A good seed bed, the preparation for planting, is critical for summertime food plots to retain moisture and aid in germination in the dry summers of the southern climate. When planting, it is important to plan according to pending rain and 60° or warmer temperatures for proper germination of seed. In many areas, the practice most popular for summer plots are mowing and poisoning residual fall plants and spring weeds followed by disking or drilling for an ideal seed planting of ½” to 1” depths; anything deeper will often not allow proper germination and growth.

Food Plot Crop/Seed Selection

Once the plots have been soil tested, lime and fertilized where required, it is time to choose what to plant considering the season of planting.  A variety of seed can be purchased Round-Up Ready, which means that the seed/crop can be sprayed throughout the season to kill weeds and vegetation that can choke out the crops that are planted. Alfalfa, a grass food crop widely grown in the Midwestern states, does not thrive in the southern regions.

A well thought out plan will include summer legumes such as Iron-Clay Cow Peas, soybeans, and other legumes which not only provide protein and fiber for deer, these legumes aid in adding nitrogen to the soils for fall planting. LabLab is a drought resistant, warm-weather legume that can withstand heavy browsing for areas with high deer density. Perennials such as crimson clover and ladino clover are often planted by broadcasting on top of other planted seed. Crimson clover and Regal ladino clover make good spring and fall browse. Brassica crops are fall crops that thrive well in the mild winters of the southern regions.

Cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, and rye, offer great cover but provide little to no nutritional value. Similar to cereal grain sorghum, Egyptian wheat, and millet also offer no real nutritional value to the deer herd. Egyptian wheat is usually considered for coverage or support of crawling or vining crops. Millet is often used for upland game and controlling erosion, but it chokes out most other crops so it should be planted only for these two uses.

Tree Stand and Box Blind Setups for Southern Deer Hunting

The typical terrain and characteristic of southern property are most favorable to stand type hunting. The overabundance of trees and planted pine plantations, topographical features, and the lack of long shooting ranges in the southern regions make hunting ideal for stand hunting over food plots that attract deer. After carefully planning out food plots, investing the time and expense into preparing and planting, the next step will be deciding on what type of stand and placement of the stand for the most effective advantage of a successful season. Using game cameras after the food plots are planted and before the season opens by placing the cameras in travel corridors and staging areas can also assist in deciding the best locations for stand placement.

There are several types of stands available that can be used in a variety of locations for the best shot opportunity. Permanent box stands will need to be planned precisely since erecting this type of stand doesn’t allow easy set-up, take down and mobility. Other stands, such portable box blinds, ladder stands, tripod stands, ground blinds, and bale blinds offer mobility.

Using the terrain and the characteristics of the land as factors in stand placement, take into consideration access to the stand, bedding areas, trails, corridors, staging areas, pinch points, typical wind direction, and the rise and setting of the sun. When placing a stand on a field with irregular edges, choosing a location that gives the hunter the widest angle of view will give an advantage. The most effective stand placements are those areas that will allow a stand to share a pinch point, staging area, or trails with the food plot view. As with any stand placement, it is critical to use any cover available, including a canopy of tree tops to protect from a skyline silhouette.

If planning to use a ground blind, for the best results, placing that blind and brushing it in well in advance to the season will allow deer to get accustomed to the blind. When placing a ground blind, avoid placing the blind in too close in proximity to a trail or the middle of a staging area. Bale blinds work well in large plots, and often allows the hunter a 360-degree view of the edges of the entire food plot. Bale blinds or tri- and quad-pods are often placed in areas that have the highest chance of a hunter flushing wildlife or being seen while approaching the stand, so attention to ingress and egress to those stands will be imperative.

Cutting shooting lanes is often necessary for elevated stands that are tucked into tree lines at the edge of food plots or stands that have irregular edge cover. With food plots that have long, straight sides, careful consideration of stand placement is crucial; take advantage of any cover available. One of the most critical factors in placing a stand is typical wind direction and natural thermals based on topographical features. Choosing a downwind location typical to the common wind direction for that location is going to be key. Of course, controlling the wind is completely out of our capabilities so having a second stand location or another food plot favorable to the prevailing wind is always good planning.  Another factor to consider is the rising and setting of the sun because naturally, these are times when deer are most active and looking directly into the sun does not only hinder the hunter’s visibility, it also places a low factor of concealment on the hunter amplifying any movement.

Deer movement can change drastically from early season bow hunting, during the rut, and late season hunting. Even excessive hunting pressure or crop over browsing in an area can cause deer movement to change at any given time. It is often essential to the success of the hunt to change strategy and even to change stand location. This change in location can be done by adding a stand, which results in as little disruption as possible in that area, instead of moving a stand.

There will always be conditions beyond control such as the amount of rain and extremely high or low temperatures, but having a plan in place of proper land management for spring, summer, and fall planting and a well laid out plan for stand placement ensures the highest odds of a successful fall deer season.

If you are interested in learning more about food plots or feeding deer check out the blog below!

Planning Box Blind Setups for the Early Season

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.

Late Season Turkey Hunting | Tips for Stubborn Toms

Challenges and Solutions for Late Season Turkey Hunting

Hopefully, you’ve already put a nice tom down and on the table this spring. However, it doesn’t always work out the way you want. Calendars fill up, the weather might not cooperate, and the birds might be even less accommodating. But there’s still time to pull it off this year if you haven’t yet. Turkey hunting, like most types of hunting, can either be the most rewarding and fulfilling experience you can have or the most frustrating and confusing thing in the world. When you talk about late season turkey hunting, it tends to be an extreme case of both somehow. On one hand, the birds are seasoned survivors, so they know most of the tricks up your sleeve and will continue to avoid you despite your best efforts. And yet, when you do manage to kill a late season gobbler, you definitely feel like you’ve earned it and can wear it as a badge of honor. Spring turkey hunting is funny that way.

Each state has slightly different turkey seasons, so we’ll avoid diving into that too deeply. For the sake of this article, we’ll define late season as the last week or so of your state’s turkey season. It is crunch time and you need to make your time afield count. You may have only been able to hunt a small portion of the entire season, but the turkeys have been exposed to hunting pressure throughout the whole time slot. If you hunt turkeys on public land, especially, they have seen a thing or two. They know what’s going on at this point, which definitely complicates your life. Let’s look at a quick comparison of early season turkeys versus late season turkeys.

Early Season Turkeys Late Season Turkeys
Usually eager to respond to hen calls, and gobble back enthusiastically Often made call-shy by this point, they may silently slip through the woods

Often come running into decoys confidently

in small groups to fight for hens

May hang up out of range when they see a decoy to make it come to them

Cautious, but less discerning about

their surroundings

Very suspicious animals that will study their environment pretty closely before moving in

If you’ve noticed this pattern before when you’ve gone late season turkey hunting, don’t worry. There’s still hope for you. Let’s look through some turkey biology and explain exactly what turkeys do each day.

Wild Turkey Biology

In the early spring, hens will start to get ready to breed just after most males are primed for it and seeking them. This major peak in breeding activity is a great time to hunt since toms and hens are actively communicating and looking for each other.

However, after a few weeks of this, the bred hens slowly start to nest and the gobblers just can’t seem to find enough willing ones around anymore. They’ve also spent the last few weeks fighting each other for breeding rights and may be hesitant to approach other toms with hens (decoys, that is). But just as whitetails tend to have a second rut as more does come into estrous, there is another peak in turkey breeding activity shortly after the initial breeding phase. Toms will definitely be on the lookout for the last few receptive hens. That’s your ace in the hole for late season turkey hunting. With that, let’s dive into some spring turkey hunting tips you can use yet this season.

Late Season Turkey Hunting Tactics

When it comes to specific techniques, it really comes down to maximum concealment in the best places, the right kind of calling and using smart decoy tactics. Now we’ll break these out in more detail below.

Location and Absolute Concealment

One of the best tips for hunting late season turkeys is setting up in the right locations and then completely disappearing where you are. Setting up along travel routes and food sources is the best option to surprise a tom. After flying down from roost trees, toms will make their way to feeding areas. You can confirm that birds are using a given area with some light and fast scouting the day before or by using trail cameras to scout for you. The Muddy® Pro-Cam 10 or Pro-Cam 12 trail cameras both deliver amazing image quality with plenty of great setting. If you can stealthily sneak into a strip of trees between mature pines/oaks and a clover or alfalfa field, you should be able to surprise some turkeys in the timber. If not, green clover fields are magnets to turkeys in the spring, especially for late season turkey hunting. You’ll often find a turkey roost or two surrounding and in close proximity to green fields like these. Check out the video below, where two hunters tagged two gobblers on day one of their turkey camp in a clover field just like this.

By this point in the season, most gobblers have been harassed by all kinds of hunters and are pretty cautious. They generally won’t come running into fields and decoys as confidently as they did in the early season. They will hang back and make sure the way is safe before proceeding. Because of that, you need to make absolutely sure you can hide from their keen eyesight – that’s always been a turkey hunting 101 lesson. Muddy® blinds are the way to go in this regard. Sure, you could still tuck into some heavy vegetation with some head-to-toe camouflage clothing. But this really limits your movement and can ruin your hunt when a silent gobbler sneaks up behind you and sees you reach for your turkey call.

Instead, set up you blind in a spot with high turkey traffic. If the turkeys in your hunting area are really suspicious birds, take some time to brush your blind in a little using natural vegetation from immediately around the blind. This small act can do wonders for making your blind completely disappear, even in a wide open field. Be sure to wear black clothing and maybe even black face paint when you hunt inside a blackout interior blind. No gobbler will see what’s coming for him. This approach is pretty much mandatory for turkey hunting with a bow due to the extra movement involved in raising and drawing it.

Late Season Turkey Calling

Spring turkey calling is a tricky thing because it changes so much from the beginning of the season to late season turkey hunting. As we mentioned, early season turkeys are pretty likely to come running into a series of hen yelps without too much prompting. But late season turkeys are a different breed and the conditions are very different. The hens have mostly been bred and the activity is dropping off fast. Consequently, there are fewer hens calling and those that are vocal are timider. So you have a few options:

  • You could completely rely on stealth and make no calls at all. This is a great option for areas with lots of turkey traffic and for surprising pressured turkeys. It feels like more of a deer hunt since it’s a complete ambush.
  • You could also try to keep your calling limited to a few soft hen yelps and cuts, followed by long pauses of at least a half an hour (unless you hear a turkey respond). If you hear a hen call to you, try to mimic her tone and cadence in response. If you hear a gobble, call back and try to read the excitement level. He may be excited and still come running over, or he may shut up and silently sneak closer. It’s a case by case basis.
  • If you get a gobbler that hangs up out of range and sight, but keeps gobbling back to your hen yelps, you may want to get mobile. Assuming you have some good camouflage clothing, silently sneak away from the gobbler, making a few calls along the way. Then set up for a shot, stop calling, and just listen. Sometimes, this simulated hen leaving him will make a gobbler change his mind and come running in hot pursuit of his lost opportunity.
  • Finally, if you notice gobblers starting to travel together in bachelor groups in the extreme late season, it might be time to give up the hen calls altogether. Toms may just be looking for other toms to hang out with for the summer and could respond better to a gobbler yelp than a hen yelp. Try letting out three slower, lower, and raspier yelps to simulate a tom instead of the faster, higher, and clean yelps of a hen.

To Decoy or Not to Decoy?

Whether or not you should use turkey decoys during your late-season turkey hunting is a tricky question. In some cases, even the best turkey decoys you’ve got just aren’t good enough. Taking the complete surprise approach by not using any decoys may be the right thing to do. Particularly for cautious birds, this is a smart move. Some toms might see a jake decoy and decide they don’t want to chance an encounter that could get them in another fight with their busted up bodies. Some toms might also see a hen decoy and decide they’ve seen enough hens that turn out to be less than real. In that case, they might hang up out of range and wait for the hen to come to them instead – it’s just a safer option for them.

But using decoys can still be effective for late season turkey hunting, on one condition: you may want to avoid using a jake decoy. It’s just a little too risky in the late season. Usually, the best approach for late season turkey hunting decoys is to just use a single hen about 15 to 20 yards from your ground blind. If a lonely gobbler stumbles on it, he’s bound to come check it out.

For this year’s late season turkey hunting, consider your typical approach and how you could use the late spring turkey hunting tips above to put a gobbler on the ground.

Effective Turkey Decoy Strategies for Hunting Out of Ground Blinds

Turkey Decoy Strategies When Hunting from Ground Blinds

Few turkey hunters today head to the woods without having one or more decoys with them. Whether you are run and gunning turkeys in big timber country or hopping ground blinds in southern agricultural fields, decoys can help bring that boss gobbler those extra steps needed to make the kill. Hunting turkeys from ground blinds typically means you are on birds. You may have positioned the blind the evening before or have it set up in a season long hotspot. Either way, you are probably fairly confident that turkeys are close by, which is where your decoys come into play. With birds in the area, your calling has to be crisp, your turkey blind placement perfect and your turkey decoy strategies on point.

The Right Way to Use Decoys from Ground Blinds

Some turkey hunters swear by decoys and yet others curse them because they have had a bad past experience of getting busted while using them. In most instances when a turkey hunter has a bad experience using decoys, it is almost always the operator’s fault. Here are six tips for setting up turkey decoys the right way when hunting from ground blinds.

Trophy Pursuit’s Turkey Camp, Part 2

Opening day of turkey season with the Trophy Pursuit Team in southern Iowa.

  1. Ground blind placement should be between the bird and the decoys. When hunters get busted while using turkey decoys, the first question to ask them is where were their decoys set up at? The answer is always right in front of the blind. Decoys are designed to distract a gobbler and have him focus his attention on something other than yourself so you can get positioned to shoot him. When you are behind the decoy, the approaching turkey is looking right into your portable turkey blind. Instead, determine where a likely gobbler will approach from and position portable hunting blinds between him and the decoys, ideally on your shooting side.
  2. Know your range. You want your portable turkey blind close to your decoys or at least half the distance you can shoot. For example, if you can effectively pattern your shotgun out at 40 yards, you want your decoys out at 20 yards. The mistake many hunters make is their decoys are set out as far as they can shoot. What happens? A gobbler gets nervous and hangs up at 60 yards and you have blown your hunt. Keep them close when hunting turkeys from ground blinds so you either have a close shot or at worst a shot that is within range.
  3. Ground blinds should be concealed but not your turkey decoys. Decoys should be placed in open areas such as fields, right-of-ways or open timber, where often bale blinds make the best turkey blind. Putting out a set of hen decoys in thick brush 20 yards from your ground blind that you can barely see is a waste of time. Gobblers react well and are less likely to spook if they can see the decoy from far off. One of the main purposes of using decoys is to give a bird something to draw his attention in with and if your decoys are buried in the brush you will never give him that chance.
  4. Numbers matter. Fall turkey hunting warrants more decoys because birds are flocked up as opposed to the spring where there is more one on one interaction between birds. Again the purpose of using turkey decoys as part of your ground blind hunting strategies is to create authenticity around your calling. A big flock of 6 hens and a jake set out in front of your pop-up turkey blind is not realistic in the spring.
  5. Spread your decoys out. Often, several different decoys are deployed outside your ground blinds like a hen and a jake or multiple hens. When you are using more than one decoy, make sure there is plenty of space between all of them. A gobbler approaching from a distance may not be able to recognize what you are trying to emulate if all the decoys are bunched together. Similarly, if your decoys are too close and a gobbler runs in, you may have a hard time getting a shot on him. A mature gobbler may also be unwilling to join in on the action and bypass you altogether if the situation looks too
  6. Hunting ground blinds and turkey decoys should both be prepared for the weather. You probably have your ground blinds secured enough unless it is severe weather in which case you will not be out hunting anyway more than likely. However, even light breezes and hard rains depending on the style of decoys you are using can cause them to look unnatural. Be prepared with extra stakes to secure decoys or that whirling hen decoy in front of your portable turkey blind will be the only thing you see.

Top 3 Ground Blind Turkey Decoy Strategies

A gobbler’s desires change from week to week in the spring. Early on they are determining dominance in an area so aggressive decoy set ups work well to lure big, mature birds in looking for a fight. Next, comes breeding. Gobblers will move from fighting to breeding a few weeks into the season and be less receptive to aggressive decoy postures. Younger birds can be lured into jake decoys during this time because they feel they can take on a smaller bird for a chance at part of the breeding grounds. But, strutters will scare these younger birds away as they have not forgotten previous losing battles to boss gobblers earlier in the year. Try a jake decoy matched with a hen as breeding moves into full force. Gobblers will look to break up the action if they catch sight of a receptive hen in their area with a young bird. After breeding is over and hens move on to nesting, use a single feeding hen to lure in receptive gobblers to your pop-up turkey blinds later in the season.

Along with turkey hunting from a blind, there are other spring turkey hunting methods. Having decoys with you is beneficial whether you are in a blind or not. However, these top three turkey decoy strategies work the best when hunting turkeys from ground blinds.

Ground Blind Set Up #1 – Jake and Hen

If you had no other decoy set up to use from your ground blinds, the jake and hen would be it. This set up works well early through late season up until hens start to nest. Early on gobblers will come in to fight away a jake while later on as breeding ramps up a big tom will come running in to displace what he thinks is a jake crossing into his territory and moving in on his hens.

The assumption with this turkey decoy strategy is that you are hunting mature gobblers. Sometimes if the area you are hunting is heavily polluted with jakes, you are better off just using a hen decoy. Remember to position the turkey decoys off to your shooting side and not have your portable turkey blind directly in line with how you expect a bird to come in. Otherwise, his full attention may not be on the decoys but rather on you and your blind.

Ground Blind Set Up #2 – Feeding Hen

Why a feeding hen? Because when turkeys are feeding, they are calm and relaxed. If you put out a hen decoy that is upright and alert, a cunning boss gobbler will get the sense that something is not right or that she is alert for a particular reason. A group of feeding hens, 2-4 of them, works well when breeding has picked up and gobblers are looking for hens. You can add a strutter behind the hens if it is further into the breeding season to spark some competition if you are hunting in areas that contain mature birds. Keep the strutter positioned behind the hens like he is trailing them, which is a typical situation in the spring.

Ground Blind Set Up #3 – Strutting Gobbler

Turkey hunters are reluctant to put out a strutting gobbler decoy for fear that the dominant nature of it may make a bird hesitant to come in. There are two times when using a strutter decoy is successful when used as part of your ground blind hunting strategies for turkeys.

First, position a strutter facing away from where you believe a gobbler will approach from. Early season birds looking to dominate will see an away facing gobbler as an advantage to taking him on. Second, use it at the right time and right place. Stay away from this decoy setup, even if it is paired with a few feeding hens when hunting areas with jakes. Jakes will quickly be turned away from a dominate strutter later in the season. Also, this set works more effectively earlier in the season when birds are willing to challenge other gobblers for breeding rights.

Bottom line, turkey decoy strategies work effectively when planned out with ground blind hunting. Although it can happen, it is rare to throw up a decoy and make a few clucks and see a big gobbler running in. The more common scenario is having to plan your turkey hunting blind placement and decoy set up down to the last detail. These six tips should go a long way to improve your turkey hunting, especially if you are unsure of how and when to place decoys when turkey hunting from a blind. The next time you head out to one of your ground blinds for turkey hunting, think about these tips and pick the right decoy set up for tempting in a mature longbeard.