Bale Blinds vs. Ground Blinds

Comparing Bale Blinds and Ground Blinds for Hunting

The ground blind has quickly become one of the best setups a hunter can employ. Ground blinds for hunting are well known for waterfowl hunting, but they also have numerous applications for hunting deer and turkeys.

One recent innovation in the ground blind has been the bale blind. Hay bale blinds are a special case of a standard ground blind. Bale blinds for hunting are designed to mimic a large round hay bale common in many fields across the county. Wildlife, especially deer, turkeys, and waterfowl are used to seeing these large structures as they go about their day. As such, they provide exceptional cover for an ambush when hunting agricultural areas.

So what is the difference between a bale blind and the more traditional pop-up hunting blind? When should you use a bale blind over other ground blinds? These are common questions hunters are asking and something we are going to explore in more detail by comparing the two in different hunting situations.

Comparing Bale Blinds and Pop-up Ground Blinds

Ground blinds for hunting come in many shapes and sizes. By far the most popular and most used is the pop-up ground blind. This is the traditional tent style ground blind made from light, durable and weather resistance camouflage fabric. These pop-up blinds for hunting are easy to carry and deploy making them very effective in a wide range of hunting locations.

Three Advantages of Pop-up Ground Blinds:

  1. Lightweight and mobile
  2. Can be used in various habitats
  3. Easy and fast to deploy

Hay bale blinds, in contrast, are a type of hunting blind just as the name suggests. They mimic a large round bale of hay in a field. Because of their design and appearance, they represent a more natural element to wildlife than a large, dark-colored camouflage block in the middle of an open field. One of the biggest problems with other pop-up ground blinds is that even though you as the hunter are concealed, the blind itself sticks out like a sore thumb to wildlife. Hay bale blinds solve this problem when hunting fields and food plots.

These types of ground blinds for hunting are larger with a shell made from a durable, weather resistant denier and dull burlap colored fabric. Similar to other ground blinds, there are various openings for shooting and a blackened interior to conceal movement.

One misconception with using bale blinds for hunting is that they will be just as ineffective as other hunting blinds in open fields where there is or never was real round hay bales. On the contrary, the design works in open areas and is one of the best waterfowl and turkey hunting blinds you can hunt from.

Three Advantages of Bale Blinds for Hunting

  1. Conceal better in agricultural settings
  2. Larger than pop-up blinds
  3. Versatile enough to be used for deer, turkey, and waterfowl

Ground Blinds for Hunting and the 3 Factors That Help You Choose

There are three factors when considering between bale blinds and other ground blinds. The first and most important is the type of area you will be hunting. Hay bale blinds work best in open terrain like an agricultural field, right-of-way or food plot. In contrast, a pop-up blind excels in more wooded terrain, in cover, and along field edges. The second factor is mobility. Bale blinds are larger and heavier in most cases and require slightly more setup time. This can be a factor if you have to reposition during the course of a hunt. In these circumstances, a more portable turkey hunting blind that can easily be broken down and moved fits the bill better. Finally, the last factor is what you are going to be hunting. Below we will discuss the best ground blinds for hunting deer, turkey and waterfowl.

Deer Hunting Ground Blinds

Ground blinds for deer hunting work particularly well in two instances. The first is archery hunting from the ground. You may have an area with limited trees for a stand or you need to be in an exact spot to trick a mature buck. Either way a bale blind or pop-up ground blind will be effective. The second instance is hunting with youth hunters or less experienced individuals. A blind gives them plenty of room to move around and be comfortable while waiting for a deer to arrive.

 

Use a pop-up blind when deer hunting transitional areas with light cover and areas where hanging a tree stand is not realistic. The bale blind, on the other hand, is perfect for hunting over a food plot or watching a bean or cornfield. It sticks out less than a ground blind and looks more natural to approaching deer.

Turkey Hunting Blinds

A ground blind for turkey hunting gives you an advantage over an incoming gobbler. You can stay concealed much better than if you were out in the open, which helps to overcome one of the bird’s greatest assets, its eyesight. Portable turkey hunting blinds are effective when you have to be more mobile, that is changing morning setups based on moving birds or repositioning on a mature gobbler. These are also more effective when hunting in big timber where their camo exterior blends in better. The bale blind on the hand excels when hunting over food plots or agricultural fields. A bale blind for turkey hunting can also be used in well-scouted feeding areas and strut zones.

Ground Blinds for Hunting Waterfowl

In recent years, there has been a shift from layout blinds to more and more waterfowl hunters using bale blinds. A bale blind is more comfortable and easier to shoot out of than your traditional layout blind. Most have a large shooting opening at the top designed for waterfowl hunting and plenty of room inside for chairs and gear. Add in some additional brushing for concealment and it keeps you hidden as well as any layout blind. The best spots for setup include tree lines, fencerows, and field depressions.

Which Hunting Blind Wins?

The ultimate matchup between these two styles of hunting blinds ends in a draw. The answer is not an either or but rather a combination of both the bale blind and pop-up hunting blind. Ground blinds for hunting work and each type have its place and advantages when hunting deer, turkeys, and waterfowl. Chose the right one for the situation and you will have the upper hand in most hunting scenarios.

 

Benefits of Having a Portable Shooting Bench

Why a Portable Shooting Bench Would Help You

Very few people will argue the benefits of having a sturdy shooting bench when it comes to quickly sight in your rifle or shooting accurately with a shotgun. It doesn’t matter if you are a weekend hunter sighting in your gun before opening day or a hardcore gun nut who spends every weekend at a shooting range. But sometimes you crave a little more flexibility than the typical shooting rest you can find at a range or by simply leaning against a tree. A portable shooting bench allows you to comfortably shoot your firearms in a variety of situations. Here are a few scenarios where you might use a portable shooting bench and some good options to consider.

Where to Use a Portable Shooting Bench

Here are a few common places or scenarios where you might use a shooting bench table or portable shooting rest. As you can see, a lot of this depends on where you live and what kinds of shooting activities you typically do.

Shooting Ranges

One of the most unusual places to find a portable shooting bench is at a shooting range. While most shooting ranges come with their own shooting benches, they may not offer the quality you’re looking for. As a result, some people opt to bring their own with them, although you will want to check with your specific shooting range first. In this case, having a lightweight option (without sacrificing stability) is really important for mobility and ease of us. After all, if you don’t like using it, you probably won’t continue to use it for very long.

Behind the House

Similarly, if you live in a location where you can shoot firearms on your property, you may already have a much higher quality heavy duty shooting bench built already. But if you don’t have an existing one or want to move to another area to do some target practice, having a portable rest to shoot from is very convenient. You can quickly grab it from the garage, set it up, shoot several rounds, and take it back down with you when you’re done.

Hunting Situations

In some scenarios, you may even want to use a portable gun rest while hunting various animals. Obviously, it’s not very sneaky or concealable to have a bulky looking shooting bench rest in the wide open, so using one of these from an enclosed ground blind is often the only way to do so. People may hunt turkeys, coyotes, hogs, or varmints using one of these portable rests, using either rifles or shotguns with them. In this case, having an option that can swivel and pivot quietly is important because it’s rare that a wild game animal holds still for too long!

Pros and Cons Versus Other Gun Rests

So how does a portable shooting bench compare to some of the other common gun rests you might use? Here are some of the usual options that you’ve probably used yourself, and why a portable option could be the better choice for you.

  • Leaning against a tree – in most cases, you’ll only use a tree as a rest when you’re hunting and need a quick rest to steady your shot. While it works in a pinch, it’s obviously not ideal for all kinds of long range shooting if you’re looking for gains in accuracy. Any slight shift in stance could affect your shot.
  • Resting on another object – similarly, you can rest your elbows on the ground (prone shooting), your knees, a rock, a log, etc. Again, these can work for different people, but it’s usually not very comfortable to shoot several rounds in these positions, and you’re not as steady as you could be. Many people use the sitting position while turkey hunting, but you would be much more comfortable on a shooting bench with a seat sitting in a blind, don’t you think?
  • Monopods/bipods/tripods – while these options offer even more support and stability, especially as you go from monopod to tripod, they still aren’t as stable as a bench rest. There’s still a little wiggle room involved. With that said, they are very portable and lightweight, making them good choices for backcountry hunting trips.

Portable Shooting Bench Options

With all that said, here are a few of the best portable shooting benches to consider for this season. All of the options come with a durable, weather-resistant powder coating to keep your shooting rest looking great for years to come. Whether you’re gearing up for turkey season this spring, looking forward to more time at the shooting range this summer, or planning ahead for deer season in the fall, you should find something to match your style and budget below.

The Ultra-Steady Bench is a great portable shooting bench if you’re just entering the market. It folds up easily and only weighs 32 pounds, yet can hold up to 300 pounds on the attached seat. The rubber coated gun rest at the end of the bench table keeps your firearm steady so you can quickly zero your rifle.

The Swivel Action Shooting Bench is the next step up the line, featuring an adjustable seat and bench table that swivel together 360 degrees. This steel construction rest weighs 38 pounds and sits on a sturdy tripod base design.

Meanwhile, the Xtreme Shooting Bench is at the top end of the lineup with lots of advanced features. Weighing 46 pounds, this pivoting shooting bench allows you to easily change targets or shift into a more comfortable position. The attached seat and bench top swivel together or by themselves 360 degrees depending on how you want to use it. It also sits on a tripod base and is constructed of super-durable steel.

Now if you only occasionally shoot your guns and tend to hunt in remote wooded areas, these might not be at the top of your list, and that’s okay. But if you like to shoot your guns often, experiment with long range shooting, or do any kind of turkey, varmint, or predator hunting, these benches can really be a major asset to you. In fact, you really can’t go wrong no matter which of these portable shooting benches you choose.

Shifting Tree Stand Locations During Deer Season

Deciding When Tree Stand Locations Need to Change

One certainty you can count on during deer season is seeing your fair share of the unexpected. No matter how much you have invested in scouting and preparation, there will be days when you end up hunting in less than ideal tree stand locations. Factors such as changing deer behavior, rut stages, food availability, weather and your impact in the woods can make a hunt out of any stand vary significantly from day to day. Perfect preseason deer stand locations may dry up quickly leaving you with only one decision – to move your tree stand.

Generally, tree stand placement is related to seasonal changes during deer season. Areas are scouted and stands are hung for the early season, rut and late season. Early season tree stand locations focus around food sources like agricultural fields. As the early season wanes and the phases of the rut pick up, tree stand locations shift to hunting rut patterns. Finally, late-season stand locations shift to hunting available food sources.

But what happens if it all doesn’t go as planned? You are not seeing deer close enough for a shot or not seeing deer at all? How do you decide when it is time to move your tree stand?

Trail Cameras Can Clue You on When to Move

Following a deliberate trail camera schedule throughout the entire year is critical. Your trail cameras provide a wealth of information and that doesn’t stop just because it is hunting season.

Every tree stand placement strategy should include trail cameras. Here are two ways those in season images can help decide if it is time to change your bow stand plans.

First, camera dates, times, moon phase and temperature all factor into a decision to change your stand location. For example, a buck may be showing up out of range or not at all even though you have him consistently on camera before the season. Camera data can pinpoint exactly when he is showing up. If he shows up in range in the morning but never when you are in the stand, perhaps your stand is positioned incorrectly for the morning conditions. Think morning winds or your approach in accessing the stand in the morning. This is just one example of where a Muddy® trail camera can assist in deciding to change your tree stand location.

Second, camera data can be used to ambush a buck that keeps giving you the slip. The scenario is a buck comes out a different spot each evening. Here you can use trail cameras to pinpoint the most likely place to ambush a buck and move your stand accordingly.

Changing Tree Stand Locations Throughout the Season

A consistent theme when deciding to move deer stand locations during the season is reacting to what the deer are telling you. Combine that with the time of year and your choice to move will result in some of the best tree stand locations you will hunt from.

  • Early Season – The field edge is hard to beat as an early season tree stand location. Acorn concentrations and other food sources should also be part of your bow stand plans early on. Figuring out when you have to change locations in the first few weeks relies on food availability and deer activity. If the food dries up or deer activity decreases consistently, it is time to move your tree stand. Any stand changes this time of year should be done mid-day to avoid disturbing early season deer patterns.
  • Pre-Rut – Pre-rut signs like active scrapes and early chasing activities are signs it is time to move. Focus on fresh, well-used deer trails and active scrapes. Either take new tree stands or reposition early season stands for pre-rut hunts. The chances of bumping a buck while changing your tree stand placement are greater as more deer movement will occur throughout the day. Consider low impact ways to get in and out of areas as quick as possible.

 

  • Rut – The rut can be crazy and patterning deer is difficult. It pays to be as mobile as possible. Changing tree stand locations can potentially occur several times a day depending on what rut activity is in your area. A hang and hunt tree stand strategy allows you to focus on the freshest rut sign. Rut action will vary from day to day and location to location and stands should as well. Shift tree stands accordingly to deer funnels and pinch points that force deer, and most importantly does, to concentrate. Deer stand locations downwind of reliable bedding areas also offer a place to move during the rut. Bucks will frequently check for an estrus doe downwind of bedding areas as the peak rut starts to slow down.
  • Late Season – Observing the rut coming to an end means you have to move back to the food. Agricultural fields are mostly barren now and easy acorns have been gobbled up. The best tree stand locations post-rut are late season green fields. Recognizing the transition to post-rut early lets you preempt your move to surprise a buck returning to eat. Deer can be moving all day in the late season including some straggler rutting bucks and does. Moving stands has to be deliberate and fast to avoid getting busted.

New Location, New Tree Stand Option

An option worth mentioning when you decide to move hunting locations is to use a new tree stand. Muddy® hang-on stands are easy to carry and they set up quickly. Utilizing another tree stand helps to reduce the disturbance in taking down your existing stand and saves time during the season. Two important considerations when you decide on making a move in season.

Tree stand locations can change and they should change during the season. Use your trail cameras and recognize signs of when it is time to shift your tree stand placement to stay one step ahead of the deer.

Strategies for Hunting Post Rut Bucks

Tips and Tricks for Hunting Post Rut Bucks

For deer hunters, we have a calendar all our own, a calendar that non deer hunting folks don’t understand. Other folks live and work and play with their traditional calendar, and they celebrate normal holidays and plan vacations around things like beaches and summertime. But deer hunters, well, deer hunters live a life around a calendar that has more to do with deer than anything else. We divide our weekends, our vacations, and our free time into our passion. Deer hunters think of days and weeks in their relationship to the rut, to moon cycles, and days in the stand.

A serious deer hunters calendar looks something like this:

April to July – Early preseason, it’s time to make a plan for next year’s hunting season. Take stock of the deer herd and wait. There is an excitement around the planning and things to come during the preseason.

August to October – Preseason and pre-rut, this season is all about getting ready for the next. Game cameras, food plots, mineral sites, treestands and ground blinds; preseason is the time to put in the work and make it count. Any time on the hunt during this season is a bonus, and can be super hit or miss. September and October bucks can be patterned, but it’s nothing compared to what is to come.

November – November is its own, it’s special and it’s when the peak-rut occurs. Deer hunters long to spend time in the woods in November. Big mature bucks are at their most vulnerable during the pre and peak rut, establishing territories and finding does that are ready to breed. If there is any one time to be in the woods, November is that time.

December and January – Late season and post-rut, big bucks can still be hunted successfully during this time of the calendar, but it takes some switching things up from pre and peak-rut tactics. Deer have changed their priorities and food and survival have moved to the top of the list, and you have to hunt like it.

Finally February to March – Postseason, the honeymoon is over. It’s time to recover from the grind and make notes from everything the season was and what it wasn’t. Hunt for shed antlers, figure out what deer made it through the season, and dream about what next season has to offer.

Don’t Get the Post-Rut Blues

So here it is, post-rut and there you are with a buck tag still in your pocket. The pre and peak-rut have come and gone, and for whatever reason, it hasn’t come together for you yet this season. Does are starting to get back together, and those crazy days of deer on their feet in the middle of the day are winding down. Don’t let post-rut hunts get you down. The truth is, post-rut can be every bit as productive as the pre and peak-rut season. It is, however, important to consider your tactics when you are looking to hang your tag on a post-rut whitetail. Here are some important tips, tricks, and bits of information to keep in mind during your post-rut hunts.

 

Groceries 

With the breeding season over, bucks have changed their priorities. After weeks of fighting, chasing, and breeding; whitetail bucks are in need of important nutrition and calories.

Finding the feed that deer are using is critical during the post-rut season. Odds are the acorn mass of the fall is either long gone, or rotten. High calorie feeds are critical during this season, look to soybean fields, corn stubble, or late season food plots with mature turnips.

This time of the year, patterning deer and hunting the wind are as critical as ever. Keep tabs on where deer enter and exit the feeding area. The majority of the activity tends to be at dawn and dusk. Keep the wind in mind, both when entering your stand, during the hunt, and when exiting the hunt. Get there early and stay till last legal shooting light, the odds are good that a bruiser buck will show himself in waning light.

Seclusion

Post-rut is about recovery and survival. Mature bucks don’t get old by luck alone. The truth is, a mature whitetail that made it through the rut is both smart and lucky. Now that the breeding season is over, bucks will be looking for hidden and secluded areas to lay low and recover.

Only a few weeks, or even days ago, your strategy to tag a monarch whitetail probably involved does, bedding areas, and travel corridors. Those areas can still be productive, but as the rut winds down and bucks become solitary some of the best locations will be little out and of the way, hard to reach pieces of cover. Look for deer activity, tracks, or beds in little hidden thickets, cuts, and creeks. Secluded areas within close relative distance to a food source can be perfect. Running a few trail cameras in these spots can be productive, just be careful moving in and out.

The Second Rut

November has come and gone, and the whitetail breeding season along with it, but maybe not. Absolutely, the peak estrus cycle of most whitetail does occurs sometime in November, but here’s the deal; in areas with large doe populations and young does from this spring, a second rut may be in the cards.

Many factors will affect the primary rut including buck to doe ratios and weather. If your hunting area has a large number of does there is a chance that some of them were not bred during the November heat cycle. Those deer, along with the young does born this spring will potentially have an estrus cycle sometime in December. If that happens, and you are ready, the action can be just as good, maybe better than November.

Maybe November was hot with a full moon, and the rut happened primarily during nighttime hours. The second rut can be your chance at redemption. Pay attention to deer behavior, and don’t be surprised if tactics like grunts and antler rattling are productive. When you have an encounter, it’s critical to take that bucks temperature by reading his body language to figure out how aggressive and effective your tactics can be.

Make it Happen

The truth is, no amount of planning and tactics will guarantee you a deer. Get out there and put in your time. During your late season, post-rut hunts consider hunting reliable food sources that the deer are keying on. Look for mature bucks recovering from the rut in secluded pockets of cover, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to hunt the second rut. Don’t let a long season wear you down, this is a great time of year to be a deer hunter.

What is the Best Hang and Hunt Setup for Deer Hunting?

How to Effectively Use a Hang and Hunt Setup

There are so many different kinds of deer hunting strategies you can use during the season. From spot and stalk approaches to deer drives to setting up in ambush locations, there’s something for nearly everyone. But depending on the tree cover and habitat in your hunting area, you may or may not have tried hang on stands in the past. Maybe you’re intimidated by them or don’t think they could be used in a true hang and hunt setup. But here’s how a few members of the Hunting Public use this strategy to consistently sneak in close to bedded deer and kill mature bucks. We’ll discuss the benefits of this approach, the best way to pack it into the woods, how to hang a tree stand, other essential hunting gear, and how to adjust your hunting tactics based on different areas.

But first, what exactly are we talking about when we say hang and hunt setup? This is a scenario where you want to quietly sneak in on the day of your hunt to hang a tree stand and then immediately climb up and start deer hunting. For this specific situation, we’re also defining it as using a hang on stand versus other types of tree stands (you don’t really “hang” ladder stands or climbers, do you?). Hang on stands, or lock on stands, consist of simple platforms with chairs that you attach to the tree of your choice with ratchet straps and cables. The chairs may be simple platforms themselves or comfortable mesh backs. Muddy® has several hang on stand options, including the Boss Elite AL or Original Muddy Boss XL. To get up into them, you need to attach several ladder sections (also called “climbing sticks”) to the tree – also using ratchet straps or rope. Some examples from Muddy® include the Pro Climbing Sticks or Ascender sticks.

Benefit Over Other Options

So what makes this hang and hunt setup better or more appropriate than other tree stands or options? There are several reasons below, but at its simplest, you couldn’t really call it a hang and hunt setup if you were propping up a ladder stand, could you?

  • Tower stands and box blinds work great for hiding your movement and scent from deer, but they are obviously not very quiet to install. You will probably have to use tractors or heavy machinery to install them, which will likely put the local deer on high alert for at least the rest of that day. 
  • While ladder stands are somewhat mobile, they’re certainly not mobile in a hurry. They are also fairly loud to cart around through the woods and you definitely need a partner to do it. Moving one around would make it tough to hunt that area the same day, so it’s not ideal for this hunting application. 
  • Climbing stands are the other obvious mobile tree stand option besides the hang and hunt setup. After all, climbing tree stands are also quiet, easy to carry and use, and you can hunt as soon as you climb into them. But they are limited to straight and limbless trees under a certain diameter. If you live in an area with a lot of old gnarly oaks and cottonwoods, you know that climbers are fairly useless for you. 
  • Last, although you can quickly and quietly move ground blinds, they may spook the deer slightly if they’re not used to seeing them. You might be able to get away with that approach just by brushing them in well, but you would have to be very quiet doing so.

Importantly, a lot of this does come down to your own hunting preferences. Depending on which type of hunter you are and the area you hunt in, one of these other tree stands or blind options might appeal to you more. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be easy or good to hunt the same day you put it up.

How to Pack a Hang On Stand

In the video below, two members of the Hunting Public show you exactly how they use the hang and hunt setup to consistently kill mature deer each season, even sneaking in close to bedding areas. They’ve used it for many years with great success, and you can too. After the video, we’ll break it down further for you.

As you can see, it’s totally possible to pack a hang on stand and some climbing sticks on your back. You can easily bring it with you into remote locations, set up your stand, and hunt it without ever being noticed. Here’s the process they discussed broken down into several smaller steps.

You have a few options for carrying a tree stand and climbing sticks for a hang and hunt setup. The sturdiest and probably quietest option is to use the first method demonstrated in the video above. Using a ratchet strap, you can stack 2 or 3 climbing sticks together on each side of the tree stand platform (or 4 or 5 all in one stack), and then secure them all together. This approach makes no noise when you shake it, and you definitely won’t lose a climbing stick while walking in – plus, it leaves your hands free to carry your bow or rifle as you go just in case you get the chance to shoot a deer. Of course, if you’re not comfortable using a ratchet strap because you think it will be too loud to operate, you could also use bungee cords or even rope to strap everything together. It just might not be as quiet and secure.

Alternatively, you could stack all the climbing sticks together and ratchet strap them together to carry them separately. The downside to that approach, of course, is that you then can’t carry your weapon as easily. Another option they mention in the video above is a product called Stick Talons, which allows you to connect your climbing sticks to your stand platform in a few different configurations.

How to Hang a Stand

Next, you’ll need to know how to hang a tree stand by yourself. Once you get everything back into your hunting area, you need to keep your guard up more than ever. Accidentally banging it against a tree or letting the climbing sticks clang together will not help your chances of seeing a mature buck. As Aaron and Zach said in the video above, you can silently hang a tree stand yourself – it just takes a little more time and patience. Here’s the general process you should follow when doing a hang and hunt setup on your own.

First, make sure you are wearing a safety harness throughout the process of hanging your tree stand and hunting – it is an essential piece of your hang and hunt setup. You might be asking yourself, “Are lock on stands safe?” When used correctly, the answer is absolutely yes. But any time you leave the ground, you are taking a risk. So before you hang your first climbing stick on the tree, attach your safety harness to the trunk and periodically move it up with you as you climb.

As for hanging tree stand hacks, you can also tie ropes from your safety harness to each ladder section and your tree stand. That way, you can just pull up additional pieces as you go instead of climbing up and down each time. As you make your way up the tree, attach additional climbing sticks to whatever height you want to hang your stand at, making sure you thoroughly seat them on the tree by pushing down on them. When it’s time to hang your stand platform, pull it up and use the ratchet straps to attach it, again making sure you thoroughly push down on it. Of course, you also then need to know how to get in a hang on tree stand. Your last and highest climbing stick should be located directly underneath your tree stand platform. Use the platform to climb up into it, making sure you stay connected to the tree via your safety harness at all times.

Hang on stands are great for public land hunting because you can easily bring everything back with you, quickly set it up, and start hunting in short order. When you’re done for the day, you can pack it all back with you, since some public lands don’t allow you to keep stands on them. And again, you’re not limited by the kinds of trees present either.

Other Essential Hunting Gear

After you hang your tree stand, the idea is that you can start hunting immediately. That means you not only have to pack your tree stand and climbing sticks in – you also have to carry everything else you might need for a deer hunt. If you’re planning on only hunting a single afternoon on your own property, you don’t have to carry as much gear as you shouldn’t get lost and won’t need much. But if you’re hiking miles back on new public land, you should plan on packing food, water, and navigational help just in case you get lost. Here are a few essential hunting items you should pack with you on any given hunt. 

  • Backpack (quiet material with lots of gear loops) 
  • Hunting knife 
  • License 
  • Extra ratchet straps and ropes 
  • Compass and map 
  • Water and snacks 
  • Clothing layers to suit the weather conditions 
  • Various deer calls (grunt call, doe can call, etc.) 
  • Scent elimination sprays or cover sprays 
  • Deer scents

Hang and Hunt Tactics

The last part of this hang and hunt setup is being in the right area so you can actually kill a deer – that is one of the goals, right? The deer hunting tactics you use will depend greatly on the area you are hunting in. For example, public lands will likely require you to move your stand with you wherever you go. On the other hand, if you’re hunting on private land, you could set up several hang on stands throughout your property and just bounce around between them depending on the weather conditions and wind.  Here are a few ideas for you as you prepare to go hunting.

Public Land Big Woods 

For heavily wooded public properties, you usually can’t effectively hunt feeding areas (since deer can browse throughout a broad area), so you need to depend on bedding areas or travel routes. If you’re bow hunting, you will need to be closer to the deer action than when hunting with a rifle or shotgun. A good way to do that is to set your tree stands about 15 to 20 yards away from major deer trails, especially if the trails come out of good bedding areas. During the middle of the day, you can quietly sneak into one of these areas without getting too close to the bedding area. After taking your time to set it up quietly, wait for the deer to file out of the bedding area along one of the trails. As long as you are high enough or in a tree with good branch structure and cover, the deer shouldn’t notice you.

Private Agricultural Areas 

When you’re hunting on private land, especially those with agricultural fields or food plots in the region, your tactics and hang and hunt setup will change a bit. In these areas you can depend on deer traffic within and to fields and food plots where they will feed in the evening. As mentioned, you could hang several tree stands ahead of time in this situation. But sometimes you just need to try a new location because the deer are using a different approach or the wind isn’t right for your other areas. In that case, you can quietly bring a hang on stand to your desired area, quickly set it up, and hunt the deer as they come to feed.

Get Started

So if the approach above sounds like it would work for you, grab your tree stand, climbing sticks, and bow or rifle, and head out to the woods. It’s not too late to use this hang and hunt setup and strategy this year. And if you take your time setting things up, you shouldn’t spook many deer in the process either.

 

Deer Blinds | Best Application for Each Type

Deer Blinds 101 | Ground, Bale, Hub, and Box Blinds

Not so long ago, most deer hunters headed out to their favorite hunting spot with a thermos full of coffee or soup, some sort of cushion to sit on, and their trusty firearm slung over their shoulder.  This checklist of must-haves might be the same, however, the setup at that particular destination looks very different today.  Parents and Grandparents across the land tell many hunting tales where they were positioned on the ground up against a mature tree or up on a ridge with a few branches stacked up in front of them to provide some level of concealment.  Throughout time, we have enhanced our concealment methods with many different options to try and remain undetected while in the whitetail woods.  The first advanced deer blinds began taking shape with strong fabric materials, then we started using wood to construct shooting houses, and eventually we added elevation with towers and platforms.  If you walk into any outdoor retailer today, you can become quite overwhelmed with the amount of options you have while shopping for a deer blind.  There are countless designs that use a plethora of different materials all while providing the option of permanent, semi-permanent, or mobile setups.  Understanding the fundamental differences and the intended use for each style will really help in narrowing down your selection on the optimal choice for your particular hunting location.

The Ground / Hub Blind

The most popular deer blind on the market today is by far the pop-up ground blind.  This hub-style tent design has provided hunters means to set up a new blind with 360-degree concealment anywhere they please within just a few minutes time.  Being lightweight, packable, and durable, pop-up style blinds create shelter on those foul weather days and expand the number of sits in the field throughout the season.  The Muddy line of ground blinds can be packed in using the carrying case and back-pack style straps for easy transport.

One major advantage of using a ground blind is having an alternative in areas where there are a scarce number of mature trees, limiting your options for hanging a treestand.  A whitetails preferred bedding habitat is usually thick with young saplings and undergrowth.  If you are trying to hunt close to bedded deer, a well brushed in ground blind can really pay off if set up properly.  Something you’ll want to keep in mind though is not to get too comfortable with unfavorable wind directions.  Even though you are concealed in a thick fabric, your scent will still carry and you still need ensure you are placing your blind down wind of their beds.

Another fantastic location for placing your ground blind is in transition areas.  These are popular locations for bucks to stage before exposing themselves in ag fields or open timber.  Dry creek beds that run alongside a patch of timber or marshy grass lands that lead into a swamp are a couple other examples of where a ground blind can be a real asset.  The Muddy Ravage and VS360 are durable and resistant to harsh weather.  Watch them disappear as you brush in the Epic camo covered canvas with surrounding vegetation.  If being on the ground just isn’t providing the views that you would like, Muddy’s line of ground blinds can easily be elevated.  Both the Ravage and VS360 can be placed on a tower or platform, but Muddy specifically created a soft-sided hub blind to be robust enough to withstand the higher winds that come with a lifted blind.  The Soft Side 360 is constructed with a powder coated steel frame and has insulated fabric walls.  If you decide to stay grounded or raise yourself to new heights, Muddy’s line of ground blinds has you covered.

 The Bale Blind

One of the coolest alternatives for those who hunt farm lands, prairies, or meadows is the creation of the bale blind.  The shape and color replicates a bale of hay that deer across the country are used to seeing in open areas.  The heavy-duty steel frame is covered with a burlap material that will blend right in just like another piece of farm equipment.  How many times have you hunted a field edge and watched deer move into the center well out of your shooting range?  The bale blind can place you right in the center of the action and deer won’t have a clue that they are being hunted.  I would advise setting out your bale blind prior to the start of the hunting season so the deer have a chance to get use to its presence.  Once it’s in a particular location for a short period of time, deer will no longer act cautious and will come in close proximity.  Those who have hunted in a bale blind the first day after setting it up have not had the results others have who have waited a couple weeks.  If you have a trail camera to place in front of the blind, it wouldn’t hurt to set it up and monitor how the deer are reacting.  If you start seeing photos of deer getting closer and closer to the blind without hesitation, you know the blind is no longer considered a foreign object to your herd. 

A bale blind is beneficial, because it can be used in early season, pre-rut, rut, post-rut and late season.  You can catch that target buck still on his early season feeding patterns before he starts chasing does and changes his routine.  Setting a bale blind in a field during peak rutting activity will put you close to bucks who drop their guard to predators.  Plus, if you have a reliable food source that deer frequent, such as a late season food plot, bucks will be looking to pack the pounds back on after a hard rut.  Having the bale blind established in a field where deer tend to feed can give you a front row seat to “Mr. Big” as he puts on his winter weight.  The Muddy bale blinds are very sturdy at 90 lbs. and large enough for some maneuverability inside if you need to reposition yourself for the perfect shot.  Hunting from inside one of these unique blinds can be an exciting new way to put yourself closer to that trophy and provide some great footage as well.

The Box Blind

 

Most of us have that one friend who has a deer blind all decked out with heaters, insulation, carpet, cup holders for his coffee, and basically everything but a television inside.  Trying to build one of those blinds is plenty difficult, but trying to make it durable enough to last through several winters can be a lot of work, time, and money.  Besides the initial construction, usually the homemade big box blinds require a new roof every couple years, frequent applications of camo paint or fabric to the outside, and resealing the cracks where insects and critters have crawled in adds up to a pretty expensive hassle.  Muddy developed a line of box blinds that accommodate every type of hunter and requires little maintenance year after year.  The Gunner, Bull, and Penthouse blinds all are constructed with thermal, scent, and noise control walls creating a stealth mode environment.  Installing either one of these box blinds on one of Muddy’s steel tower options will give you that true luxury hunting experience.

The most obvious advantage is being able to hunt in comfort during those frigid snowy late seasons.  With the warmth and security of an elevated box blind at your disposal, it takes any weather forecast out of the equation when deciding whether or not to go hunting.  No matter your weapon of choice, bow or firearm, the Bull and Penthouse blinds have window options that are configured to adhere to any shot position. 

Finding a location for your tower box blind should involve some serious thought and consideration since they are not easily moved.  For example, food plots should be built with the box blind position in mind before working the ground.  This will avoid any second guessing after a plot is seeded and the blind isn’t as easily accessible for relocation.  The prime locations for Muddy’s box blinds are areas with good clear shooting lanes.  Ag fields, food plots, watering holes, etc. are all areas with open views in several directions.  Hunting in a box blind during the rut is a huge advantage for those who can sit all day long.  The comfort and security of the box blind really helps when grinding out several long days in a stand during this time of the year when mature bucks are most active.  Pack a few meals, bring your spouse or kids and enjoy the experience without worrying about weather conditions.  Established box blinds can make your buddies really jealous, especially when you start having success year after year. 

Whitetails have evolved throughout the history of their species and so have we.  Our ambush locations have become more sophisticated and advanced as we learn more and more about deer behavior.  Deer blinds should be treated like any other piece of hunting equipment, such as your gun, bow, binoculars, etc.  Investing in a quality product like Muddy’s ground blinds, bale blinds, or box blinds will result in more successful hunts if used in the proper fashion.  Pop-up ground blinds are extremely mobile, yet durable and conceal hunters extremely well.  Bale blinds are a new trend that has proven to be successful in open terrain where cover is scarce.  Lastly, box blinds can extend your hunts and put you on trophy deer throughout the entire whitetail season.  All of these options have their niche and are proven to be fruitful when used appropriately.

** FREE SHIPPING ON ALL BOX BLIND COMBOS **

How to Locate the Best Acorn Crop for Hunting Mature Whitetails

Using Acorns to Harvest Mature Deer

One common theme regardless of where you are hunting and what you are hunting for is finding a limited resource that’s in high demand. In the case of white-tailed deer those resources are generally food, cover, and mates. There are only a few food resources that are in as high demand as acorns are during a good mast crop. Acorns represent a high-quality food source that isn’t available for very long which is why most animals take advantage of them. Acorns even have the power to draw mostly nocturnal mature bucks out during daylight. This article will discuss how you should go about identifying trees that will likely produce good acorn crops and how to make a set in hopes to fill your freezer in the fall.  

Not All Trees are Created Equal 

The first step in this process is to be able to identify what types of oak trees you have on your hunting property. Wildlife tend to have preferences regarding which acorns they eat from different types of oak trees. For example, acorns from oak trees in the red oak family tend to have more tannins, or toxins, present in their acorns. Acorns with an increased amount of tannins tend to not be as palatable as acorns with less tannins like those produced by oaks from the white oak family. Being able to tell the difference between a white oak tree from a red oak tree will help you when deciding where to focus your scouting efforts. What happens if you don’t have any white oak trees on your hunting property? Still hunt over red oaks. Although deer may not hit these acorns as hard as they would from a white oak, they will still make use of the resource.   

Once you’ve identified what types of oaks you have on your hunting property, then the next step is to understand more about how often oak trees produce mast crops. Some years are better than others for mast crops and oak trees that produce one acorn crop every few years are generally considered to be a good mast producing tree. This inconsistency in acorn production is part of the reason why acorns are so desired by wildlife. If you are lucky enough to have a grove of oak trees, then hopefully you will have at least one tree a year producing an acorn crop. 

Scouting for Acorns 

Given the inconsistent nature of acorn production, you will likely have to do some moving around to make sure you are setup in the best possible location to take advantage of acorns dropping. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this. The first thing you can do is take a pair of binoculars out and spend some time looking up in oak trees during late summer. By this time, you will be able to see acorns in the trees, especially with the help of binoculars. Identifying which trees have the most acorns will help direct you when deciding on stand placement.

If you aren’t able to get out and do some scouting during the summer you can still do some on the ground scouting during the hunting season. This method requires you to be more mobile which is easily done with use of a climbing tree stand, a mobile hang-on set, or even a ground blind. Going out early one afternoon and finding acorn caps is a good sign that acorns are hitting the ground and animals are already eating them. Couple that with signs of deer scat and you are likely in a hot spot. Use a topo map to try to identify the bedding areas so you can have an idea of where deer will be approaching from. Remember that acorns are a limited resource so there may not be established trails coming from bedding areas. Deer may literally show up out of nowhere. After you figure out where deer might be approaching form then set up your stand to play the wind and sit tight.

Understanding what resources are available and when they are available can dramatically increase your chances of harvesting a mature buck. Acorns represent one limited resource that most deer will take advantage of and because they’re a limited resource, deer will take increased risks like moving during daylight to obtain them. Acorns tend to drop throughout October and November depending on what part of the country you are in. Hopefully you will keep these tips in mind when you hit the woods. They may just help you fill your tag.

Prodigy Promo

Buy the Prodigy for $99.99, Get Free Shipping with code

Must Have Tree Stand Accessories

Essential Tree Stand Accessories

For a whitetail deer hunter, there is no place you would rather be during deer season than in the tree stand. Countless hours are spent in preparation for the time in the stand: running trail cameras, tending to food plots, creating habitat, and studying the wind to find the perfect spot for tree stand locations. When the time is right, when the wind is perfect, and the deer are on their feet; it’s time to get in the stand and make something happen.

Time in the tree stand is magical, it is where hunters long to be, but it’s not always the most comfortable. Long hours in the tree stand waiting for that bruiser buck to make an appearance can take its toll, but with a few tree stand accessories you can make those long sits more comfortable, more productive, and hopefully fill that tag.

Tree stand accessories can be broken down into a few categories to help you determine what tools make the most sense for your setup and your hunts. Accessories for hunter comfort, for organizing equipment, and for your weapon are all important details to polish off your tree stand setup and insure you will be ready when that critical moment arrives. 

 Accessories for hunter comfort help extend tree stand sits, making sure you are in the woods when that hit list buck makes an appearance.

Seat Cushion – A good quality seat cushion is a must when you plan to spend much time waiting out a mature buck. The added comfort will not only help you stay longer in the stand, but also help you to sit still during the hunt. Squirming around trying to find a comfortable way to sit is a guaranteed way to get picked off by a wary buck.

 

 

Waterproof Seat Cover – One of the drawbacks of using a foam seat cushion is when they get wet. Rain and morning dew will soak into a seat cushion like a sponge. A sure way to ruin your days hunt is to sit down onto a wet cushion first thing in the morning. By adding a waterproof seat cover you can be sure that your cushioned seat will be dry and comfortable for your entire hunt.

Lumbar Support – Supporting your lumbar during long sits is the ideal solution to a stiff and sore back due to long hours spent hunting. A quick attach, lightweight support that works with any stand is a fantastic way to make sure you are focused on the hunt, and not aches and pains.

Accessories for organizing equipment make effective use of the limited space available when you are in the tree. Keeping your gear organized and at the ready can make the difference between notching a tag or going home empty handed.

Screw-In Single Hook – Non-slip rubber coated screw in hooks provide a variety of uses like: hanging a pack, quiver, or rattling antlers. Keep a couple of these in your daypack all the time and you will find a variety of uses for them.

Multi-Hook Strap On Holder – Using a strap on accessory holder that fastens around the tree gives you the flexibility to put up multiple hooks quickly and quietly. Drilling into heavy bark is no issue, and they easily fold up and store in your daypack between hunts.

 

Pivoting Multi-Hanger – Every tree and every tree stand setup is unique. Having the flexibility to adjust a gear hanger for the situation at hand can be paramount. A pivoting hanger offers the flexibility to adjust the hanger height and angle quickly and quietly during the hunt.

Accessories for the weapon are designed to provide hunters with greater accuracy and reduce motion in the stand. By having your weapon at the ready and steady for the shot, these tree stand accessories offer hunters an edge of confidence.

Universal Platform Bow Holder – Having your bow at the ready, out of the way, and in a vertical position reduces delay and motion in the stand to make the shot when it presents itself. A rock solid support that is rubber coated not only prevents damaging the bow, but is silent as well.

 

Gun or Bow Organizer  A safe out of the way place to keep your rifle or bow helps to keep you comfortable in the tree stand. It’s critical to keep your hands free for glassing and calling, but to still have quick access to your weapon. An adjustable quick organizer designed to keep your weapon at the ready will make you a more effective hunter.

Shooting Rail – For firearm hunters, nothing affects accuracy more than steadiness. Having a solid rest is crucial to executing an accurate and lethal shot. Whether you are hunting with a centerfire rifle, a muzzleloader, or a shotgun; a stable and sturdy rail to shoot from is imperative. Look for one that is easy to set up, and flips up out of the way when you are entering and exiting the stand.

 Using a tree stand to get the upper advantage on a wary whitetail deer is a fantastic proven tactic. After investing so much time and effort to find the right tree, and make that stand location perfect for the hunt, be sure to bring along the right tools to help you stay comfortable, organized, and accurate in the stand!

Accessories Promo

Free Shipping when you spend $100 on SELECT accessories

 

Planning Your “Rutcation”

Best Deer Hunting Stands and Locations for the Rut

Not all of us can travel from state to state filling one tag after another during the peak of the whitetail season.  Most hunters lead busy lives with work, family, and other personal responsibilities that just don’t allow us to hit the “pause button” on life and spend countless days in a deer blind.  However, the true die-hards have found a way to shutoff the outside world and be at piece for an extended period of time by cashing in all of their personal time and vacation days for the almighty Rutcation”.  The Rutcation that I refer to doesn’t have to involve traveling across the country for an out-of-state hunt.  Heck, if you have the luxury to own a decent size chunk of land, you could just spend your entire Rutcation in your backyard.  Whichever way you decide to break away from the everyday grind to hunt the most exciting time in the Whitetail woods (a.k.a The Rut), you want to ensure you are taking advantage of every single minute in the stand.  You’ve marked off your calendar, sent all your calls to voicemail, and have waited the entire year for this moment.  Here are the best 3 setups to nearly guarantee yourself a shot at a buck during the rut.

Location #1  Doe Bedding Areas

During the rut, bucks will be constantly looking for love and cruising for a hot doe.  So what better place to look than where thebed down?  When you hunt doe bedding areas during the rut, you want to pay very close attention to the wind and place your stand downwind from those beds.  The objective is to position yourself at a distance where bucks will circle downwind of the bedding area, but not you.  In other words, place your setup far enough away to allow the bucks to scent check the area in between you and the doe’s.  Doe’s tend to bed in thicker areas with taller grasses and shrubbery, so you’ll need find a good mature tree downwind to hang a stand and wait for cruising bucks.  Again, the wind direction is very important in this type of setup because one wrong gust could blow out the entire bedding area sending doe’s scattering every which way.  The best tip for avoiding getting stuck sitting in a stand with unfavorable wind conditions is to be somewhat mobile.  Hangon stands with a set of climbing sticks are perfect for adjusting on the fly.  The last thing you want on your Rutcation is to be stuck hunting suboptimal stands because you don’t have the right winds for your best spots.  The Muddy Vantage Point is light weight and can be moved with minimal effort.  If you are looking for a more comfortable option for those all day sits, the Muddy Boss Elite AL is another great choice.  The Flex-Tek Zero-Gravity flip up seat on the Muddy Boss Elite AL makes it easy to sit from dawn to dusk.  Pair either one of those options with a set of Aerolite Climbing Sticks and you will have the perfect system for avoiding detection while waiting for that bruiser to come cruising in.

Location #2 – Food & Water Sources

Depending on where you are hunting, the temperatures during the whitetail rut can vary.  Temps in Northern Minnesota could drop below freezing while South Texas hunters could be out hunting in t-shirts.  However, the fact remains that whitetails across all regions need food and water to survive.  If you have the ability to hunt either an established food source, such as a food plot or agricultural field, or a reliable water source, such as a small pond or stream, you can take advantage of the higher population densities of deer at these locations.  Outside of the rut, mature bucks tend to wait until dark before exposing themselves in open areas to feed or hydrate themselves.  During the rut, all those survival instincts go away and they have only one thing on their mind; love.  These locations are fantastic gathering points and social hubs for whitetail rutting activity.  Bucks will target areas that have a high concentration of does to check if any are coming into estrus.  These areas also provide a canvas for bucks to spread their scent and posture for dominance using scrap trees, licking branches, and rub lines.  Bucks are playing the odds and so should you by setting up on these highly active whitetail meeting grounds.  Muddy offers several options for this type of setup.  If you have the means to invest in a tower box bind such as the Muddy Bull box blind, you can ensure you’ll have a solid reliable place to hunt year after year.  For the price conscious hunter, a ground blind works just as well and is light enough to carry in and out with ease.  The Muddy Bale Blind is perfect for placing in those open ag fields, but if you find yourself in a thicker environment the Muddy VS360 ground blind blends into the surrounding vegetation while still providing 360 degrees of shooting options.

Location #3 – Pinch Points and Funnels

       

If you’ve studied deer movement or scouted your hunting property you’ve probably noticed a few areas with heavier deer sign than others.  These heavily used zones often correlate with features in the terrain and topography called pinch points or funnels.  The high traffic is a result of deer being compressed into a smaller area in order to get from one place to another.  During the Pre-Rut and Rut phases, you can increase your odds of laying eyes on a mature buck during daylight hours by setting up on these locations.  A great first step is to look at a satellite map of your property to identify these dense travel corridors and target those areas for stand placement.  You’ll want to avoid overhunting these spots, so that you minimize pressure to keep your scent out during most of the year. Save these stands for your prime rutting activity to ambush that target buck with the element of surprise.  Ladder stands are a wonderful option here since they can be left up all year-round and don’t require a whole lot of shifting around.  Muddy’s Boss Hawg ladder stand is quiet, reliable, and low maintenance for either bow or gun hunter.  If you have a buddy or family member you’d like to hunt with, the Nexus and Nexus XTL double ladder stands have plenty of room for two with some elbow room to spare.  No matter what type of stand you choose, be ready for things to happen fast in these locations and don’t get caught off guard by cruising bucks.

The bottom line is, a Rutcation taken at the right time of year can be your best and only chance of seeing mature bucks on their feet during shooting hours.  When you put life on hold and dedicate yourself to hunting whitetails, make sure you maximize your time in the field.  Give yourself options, plan your hunting locations ahead of time, and put yourself in the best possible position to get a big one on the ground before you head back to your daily grind.  These 3 locations can payoff year after year if hunted properly and you never know, you just might find yourself tagged out and back to work early with a few extra vacation days in your pocket.

Safety Harness Promo

20% off all safety systems