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.

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Muddy’s Trail Camera Schedule | Setups, Tips, Settings, and More

Trail Camera Tips | Muddy’s Trail Camera Schedule

If you’re like many hunters, your trail cameras are probably in full swing right about this time of the year. Early bow hunting seasons aren’t that far off, and bucks are starting to look pretty enticing when they pose for a portrait. But once the fall hunting season is finished, do you pack your cameras up and quit until next summer? Most people do, and they’re missing out on a lot of critical information about the deer they hunt. Here’s a comprehensive trail camera schedule you can use to keep tabs on the deer herd throughout the entire year.

But first, what can you learn from an annual trail camera schedule? Plenty. In the winter, you can keep tabs on deer to see which bucks made it through the hunting season and help you plan for next year, plus you might even find some shed antlers in the process. Spring means lots of new deer hitting the woods, so you can watch your clover fields as they fill up with pregnant or nursing does and bucks trying to recover from the winter. In the summer, you can watch bucks as they start to grow their antlers and develop a hit list for the current season. And then, of course, you know what fall means – lots of opportunities to learn where deer are bedding and feeding so you can put all of that trail camera work to good use and hopefully arrow a buck.

October Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • Cooler weather, great fall scenes, and lots of deer action all combine to create the most magical time of the year for deer hunters. But there’s a lot happening for deer and their habitats in October. For one, bachelor groups should all be split up as bucks shift ranges and get more competitive and aggressive with one another. The native vegetation should be drying up and most crops are starting to be harvested, which is reducing or changing their food sources to acorns, apples, and waste grain. Leaves fall in autumn, which drastically changes summer bedding areas and movement patterns. On top of it all, there are more hunters out in the woods to pressure deer. When all of these things combine, it’s what many people call the October lull. The best time to hunt the October lull is absolutely during and right after a cold front, which gets the bucks on their feet and moving around again.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • In this magical deer hunting month, the best trail camera setup location is on deer scrapes – either natural or mock scrapes. Bucks and does both start using scrapes heavily in October to communicate breeding statuses, which make them great focal points for trail cameras. If you can find a scrape (or make a mock scrape) downwind of a doe bedding area or within a funnel to a food source, you can be pretty confident you will catch bucks using it. 

Trail Camera Settings 

  • This is when trail camera tactics really matter for hunting purposes. Since your trail cameras will likely be located on scrapes, using photo bursts or videos are a good way to get great shots of the bucks in your area. Videos of bucks rubbing licking branches or making a scrape are exciting to watch! Also, make sure you know how to hide a trail camera – keep them well camouflaged with brush and off to the side of approaching trails so you don’t spook approaching deer. Check your trail cameras often enough to know what deer are there, but not enough to pressure them.

November Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • In most of the Midwest and even parts of the south, November means one thing for deer hunting: the rut. During this time, bucks tend to make mistakes, which means you can have a good chance to shoot one. Many a buck has been led to his doom by following a hot doe. The weather also typically takes a nose dive this time of the year, producing very cold temperatures and maybe even snow. Deer will really key in on high energy (carbohydrate) foods, including any remaining nuts, apples, corn, beans, turnips, and cereal grains.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • Like October, deer scrapes can still produce some great trail camera pictures since bucks are actively seeking does. Food plots can occasionally still catch bucks during the day if your property is very unpressured and secluded since does will still feed and they attract bucks. But if you’re using trail cameras on public land or you have a smaller pressured property, scrapes are the way to go. Funnels between bedding areas and food sources are also good, especially if you take habitat and topography into consideration.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • For November, you really need to know how to set up a trail camera. Bucks are usually hot on the hooves of any estrous doe they find, so the usual trail camera settings may not work well. The pace is fast, and you may miss the action if you don’t take the time to do the right settings. With a 6 photo burst or a 2 minute video, you can be sure that any doe that passes through will trigger the camera, but you will also catch the buck following her. 
  • Additionally, just like October, you should position the camera higher (about 6 feet off the ground) so it is slightly out of a deer’s immediate view. Use a stick behind the top of the camera to position it downward. Also, keep it angled about 45 degrees to trails approaching scrapes so you don’t spook the deer you want pictures of. 
  • As far as how long to leave a trail camera out in November, check them sparingly so you don’t spook deer, but often enough to know where you should be hunting. A good way to do this is to set up cameras near your access trails so you can easily check them while you enter or leave a tree stand location.

 

December Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • This the beginning of the hardest time in a Midwest whitetail’s life: winter. Cold weather, biting winds, snow, and a decrease in high quality food all work against them. In southern areas, there may yet be good food sources available for deer, but there’s definitely a change. In addition, most bow hunting seasons are still open and some late season muzzleloader hunts may also open, which can pressure them. While bucks are weary and worn down from the rut, they will still feed with does and may breed any that come into estrous late, but food becomes the priority for them in December. You may also want to harvest does for meat at this point in the season since it will be your last chance until next year. 

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • Since deer are transitioning to late season food sources (such as standing corn/beans, green cover crops, or turnips), the edges of these fields and trails leading to them are the best spots to hang trail cameras in December.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • For the last calendar month of the year in open field settings, you should switch your trail camera settings back to the time lapse function. You can choose the interval of how often the camera takes pictures and also what time of day it takes them (e.g., 2 hours before dusk, etc.). Hang it higher in a tree so that you can see the whole field, which may mean hanging it 10 feet up in some cases. In the dusk example, remember to aim it northeast so it’s looking directly away from the setting sun. This allows you to see exactly how deer are using the field and moving across it.

January Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • January is a tough time for whitetails. Bucks have been running all over their region chasing does down and fighting other bucks, not to mention dodging natural predators and us. During all that activity, they seldom stop to eat much either, which means they lose a substantial amount of body weight right during the coldest time of the year, when they need it most.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras  

  • In the mid-winter months, food plots and fields with standing agricultural crops (corn, soybeans, etc.) are some of the best places to hang trail cameras. Deer are looking for calories to help fuel them throughout the winter, and these crops will do that. Hanging a trail camera on a trail entering these areas also allows you to see what’s dropping for early shed hunting purposes.

Trail Camera Settings  

  • In winter, you will face two battles with your trail cams. One is the cold – it doesn’t take long for temperatures below zero to drain your battery life. The other is the snow – make sure your cameras are mounted to the tree or post above the snowline (4 to 5 feet is better than the usual 2 to 3 feet). Also, all the snow glare can make your photos turn out badly, so face them north to avoid the low southern sun. 
  • Because of the uphill battle against the cold and snow, you may want to check your cameras pretty regularly (every few weeks) if you want them to consistently take pictures. Otherwise, you may find that you arrive and your camera is buried in snow and has dead batteries. 

February Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • As with January, February is a hard month. In most areas, even standing crops can be picked over by now, forcing deer to rely on natural woody browse as their sole food source. Deer are also battling some of the coldest temperatures of the year, which means they seek thermal cover (e.g., thick spruce plantations, tall grasses, gullies out of the wind, etc.) whenever they’re not feeding.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • If there are still crop food sources available, these are still the best places for trail cameras. If you find that the deer have switched to feeding on browse in a certain area, try putting a trail camera on the trails leading from bedding areas to the browse. The trails are very easy to follow in the snow!

Trail Camera Settings 

  • Again, you will be facing the cold and snow in February, so hang your cameras higher than usual and check them regularly. Also, keep the trail camera placement facing north. 

 March Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • While southern hunters are out enjoying the woods in March, it is more or less the same as the other winter months in much of the Midwest, but it does offer a glimmer of hope. Temperatures start to climb and the snow pack may be melting slowly away. This can be one of the worst times for whitetails because they have browsed most high preference browse by now, but it’s too early for new growth yet. The melting of the snow may also reveal shed antlers for you to find.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • It seems most typical feeding areas are not attractive anymore and bedding areas are not easily accessible without spooking deer regularly. While that doesn’t matter for hunting purposes, you don’t want to stress the deer herd when they’re at their most vulnerable. Plus, if any bucks are still carrying antlers you would like to find, bumping them off of your property won’t help with that effort. Deer trails, especially where they cross a farm lane or hunting property road are fantastic. You can easily sneak in to check your cameras regularly without disturbing them, and keep tabs on when the deer are shedding their antlers.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • Since you’ll be using your camera on a deer trail, you need a relatively fast burst of pictures to capture the action as they move through. Alternatively, you could use the video mode too.

April Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • April is the turning point for the Midwest, as spring starts to slowly appear. The deep and shaded parts of the forests still contain very deep snow, but open areas melt fairly quickly. Deer may feed on newly exposed vegetation, but also still browse on whatever they can find.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • Deer trails and small openings are some of the best places for trail cameras this time of year. If you’re located further south, then perennial clover food plots and alfalfa fields will likely be greening up by then, and the deer will definitely be spending time in them. Plus, you have the bonus of scouting turkeys for spring turkey hunting with your trail cameras at the same time.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • In open fields, you shouldn’t have to worry about the snow anymore and there’s no growing vegetation that will interfere with the pictures, so you can resume your trail camera mounting height at about 3 feet off the ground to get a good deer eye level shot.

May Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • May is a very welcomed rest for whitetails because all kinds of natural vegetation starts growing like crazy again, including lush forbs, grasses, and tender new buds and twigs. Providing perennial clover fields on some part of your property is a great way to start feeding deer as soon as the weather warms up. Does are likely to give birth to fawns this month or the next, and bucks start to lump together in bachelor groups for the summer.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras  

  • In the early spring, it’s tough to beat lush green fields and food plots for watching does and fawns on trail cameras. Unless bucks have a distinct marking on them, it will probably be too early to start identifying any prior year bucks until their antlers grow back. Another good spot to hang your cameras in spring is a mineral site. Bucks, does, and fawns will all stop by mineral sites from spring through fall.  
  • One benefit of using trail cameras in the spring, especially along field edges or on mineral sites tucked into the cover, is that you can scout for turkey hunting still, and catch all kinds of other animals on camera, including black bears, foxes, bobcats, grouse, and many others.

Trail Camera Settings  

  • This time of year, you don’t have to necessarily worry about how to program a trail camera. You can really use whatever trail camera setting you want. If you’d like to get some videos of young fawns playing around in the fields, this is a great time to do it. If you’d rather just take pictures, you can set the delays and intervals to whatever you wish. In all likelihood, intel you get this time of year won’t tell you a whole lot about how to hunt next season. But if you’re a trail camera addict like us, you will just enjoy getting all kinds of great pictures.

June Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • When June hits the calendar, it’s time to start thinking about summer trail camera strategies. Deer will start hitting food sources and bedding areas pretty consistently throughout the summer. Bucks continue to build up their bodies and antlers by eating high protein foods and does need calories to keep up their milk supplies to feed their fawns. In highly productive areas, it’s not uncommon for a doe to support twins, so he needs to keep up the food consumption.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • It’s true that deer will reliably hit food sources hard in the summer, but food sources can be very scattered this time of year with all the abundant lush food available. Since there’s a lot of cover and no pressure from us in the summer, deer will often bed short distances from ag fields and food plots, which may be a great spot to hang cameras.  
  • However, better spots that will reliably attract deer include mineral sites and feeder stations. Where legal, these two areas will consistently pull deer in for great trail cam pictures. Corn is probably the best attractant for game cameras in these scenarios. Mounting trail cameras to a post or nearby tree is all you need to do.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • Again, you can choose your own preferences this time of year, but start focusing your trail cameras on taking bursts of photos when triggered, so you can be sure you get a few different pictures of a deer when it shows up to a mineral site, feeder, or food plot. Bucks will start to show some antler growth, and velvet pictures are amazing to look at. Try to stay away from your cameras during the summer, checking them only when you need to refresh your mineral site or feeder. While spooking deer this time of year won’t affect hunting, why pressure deer now if you don’t have to?

July Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • July is a similar story to June – deer continue to feed heavily to build up their fat reserves. Bucks keep building antlers and does keep fueling little fawns. The high heat and humidity may encourage deer to seek out water sources more frequently, which is definitely one of the best summer trail camera tips.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • Also like June, food plots, feeder stations, and mineral licks are the best spots to catch most deer (including bachelor groups of bucks) on camera. If you can pair a water hole or natural water feature with a mineral site, deer will stick around even longer for better pictures.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • As far as trail camera height, hang your trail cameras higher (4 to 5 feet) in the summer to avoid vegetation from blocking views, or occasionally visit your cameras to trim the vegetation down. Try to keep your cameras in the shade and pointed north so you don’t have a ton of pictures with glare.

August Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • During the month of August, a lot of native forbs and grasses start to dry out, causing deer to abandon them a little. Fortunately, soft mast trees (e.g., apples, crabapples, plums, cherries, etc.) and hard mast trees (primarily oaks) start ripening and dropping fruit this time of year. Deer will eagerly ignore most native forbs to feed on these highly nutritious and digestible fruits and nuts. Bachelor groups of bucks will usually be pretty visible in open fields as dusk approaches.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • If you have a grove of hard or soft mast trees that start dropping fruit, this could be a great place to hang a trail camera. Alternatively, you could place cameras on an established deer trail within a pinch point or funnel between the mast trees and their primary bedding area.  
  • If you don’t have any mast trees on your property, mineral sites and feeder stations will still attract deer. And placing trail cameras on field edges of large soybean fields this time of year will definitely still produce some good pictures.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • Follow much of the same advice for July (i.e., hanging cameras higher, pointing north, clearing vegetation, etc.).

September Trail Camera Schedule

Conditions 

  • Once September hits, most bow seasons open up and it probably feels like Christmas day to you. But for the deer, it’s the start of several months of harassment and pressure from us, not to mention changing conditions. September may have heat waves here and there, but you’ll notice temperatures start to cool down a bit. Bachelor groups start to break up a bit as they start shedding their velvet.

Where to Hang Trail Cameras 

  • For one of the last times of the year, food plots and ag fields are still a good spot to get daylight pictures of bucks. As the hunting season opens, most bucks tend to go nocturnal on many properties. Additionally, trails in between mast trees and bedding can still work well too. Just make sure the camera is pointed slightly towards the bedding area to get good afternoon/evening pictures.

Trail Camera Settings 

  • Keep your trail cameras taking bursts of photos so you don’t miss a buck moving through quickly. Alternatively, use the Muddy Pro-Cam 20 bundle (one of the best trail cameras on the market) to take time-lapse pictures before dusk to get an idea of which deer are using the food plot regularly. If you’re bow hunting, check your cameras enough to inform your hunting locations without putting too much pressure on the deer before October.

Time to Use This Trail Camera Schedule

There’s a lot of information in this article and we hope it hasn’t intimidated you. This trail camera schedule is meant to give you some new ideas on how and when to use trail cameras throughout the year so you can have the best hunting opportunities. Good luck this season!

 

5 Ground and Box Blind Hunts You Have to Watch!

Ground and Box Blind Hunting Videos to Learn From

If you’re a deer hunter, there’s a very good chance you’re addicted to hunting shows. It seems to just come with the territory and it allows you to live deer hunts throughout the year, even if it’s just vicariously through someone else’s hunting videos. But more importantly, it gives you a chance to learn something from those hunts that you can apply to your own situation. In these five box blind hunts, there’s a take-home message you can use to be more successful this season. Oh, and they’re just fun to watch too. 

Here’s a quick roundup of some great box blind deer hunts that will get you fired up for this season. As you can see, they take place in different locations and different times of the year, which means you can use these tactics almost anywhere. Continue scrolling for the videos.

  1. Texas Whitetail Hunt

For this hunt, Mark Drury of Drury Outdoors was in Texas looking for another great Texas buck. After getting pictures of a nice deer on trail cameras, he set up a Muddy® Bull blind in an opening. Shortly after sunrise, a big 8 pointer caught him off-guard. Deer blinds in Texas are a pretty common sight, so the buck didn’t seem to mind. Check out the video to see what happened.

On this #MuddyMoment segment follow along w/ Mark Drury as he arrows a big TX 8pt out of a #Muddy Bull box blind. Learn More: http://bit.ly/BestBlindsDrury Outdoors

Posted by Muddy Outdoors on Monday, August 27, 2018

Box Blind Hunts Lesson: make sure you cover your backdrop when you set it up the first time – any dark cloth would work fine for that purpose. Mark missed the first opportunity on this deer because of the fear of being silhouetted against the eastern skylight behind him. Had the buck not come back in, that could have been his only chance at killing it.

  1. Iowa Shotgun Season

Cody Bonner from Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit was hunting in a Muddy® Bull blind as well, but not in Texas. He was hunting the Iowa shotgun season. Unfortunately, high winds were preventing them from hunting a few locations due to the risk of being winded. Fortunately, they were able to hunt in the elevated box blind with no problems.

Cody Bonner of Muddy's Trophy Pursuit found some success out of his #Muddy Bull box blind in IA during shotgun season. Check out his hunt now! www.gomuddy.com

Posted by Muddy Outdoors on Monday, January 29, 2018

Box Blind Hunts Lesson: Despite the high winds and a bobcat running across the field, the deer stuck around long enough for Cody to make an amazing shot with a shotgun to lay a giant whitetail down in the soybean field. That’s one of the benefits of hunting in the bull. It has sealed windows allowing your scent to stay inside the blind and hunt on marginal or even bad winds if you have to make a move on a buck.

  1. DruryRedemptiom

Mark Drury was back at it and took his sister Linda Lurk out rifle hunting. Even with cameraman Wade and a neighbor unexpectedly stopping by, they could all fit comfortably inside the Muddy® Bull blind! A nice 10-point buck came out into the field, and something painful happened next. 

Box Blind Hunts Lesson: Although Linda missed the first opportunity at this buck, they kept their eyes open down the food plot shooting lanes. Eventually, the buck popped back out for another shot. So the lesson is to never give up on a deer – keep looking and you might get a shot at redemption!

  1. Late Season Minnesota

Nicole Reeve from Driven with Pat and Nicole was hunting the late season in Minnesota in some harvested corn strips. With the cold weather, snow, and a late season food source, you know mature bucks will stop by eventually. Here’s how this box blind hunt played out.

Nothing like those homegrown bucks! CHECK OUT THIS UNBELIEVABLE MN HUNT#TCArms #Hunter

Posted by Driven with Pat & Nicole on Monday, July 11, 2016

Box Blind Hunts Lesson: How did Nicole take this giant late season buck? The Muddy® blind concealed their movement and scent enough to keep several deer in very close proximity throughout the hunt, which was long enough for this mature buck to feel comfortable stepping out. It also kept them warm enough to stay that long. Enclosed deer blinds should always play a part in your late season food plot strategy.

  1. Down to the Wire in Iowa

Jen Sieck with Trophy Pursuit was hunting a Muddy® bale blind during the late muzzleloader season in Iowa. With a food plot full of does, there was some pressure to getting a shot at a nice buck without being noticed.

Jen Sieck's 2016 season offered many great encounters, but things just never went her way. Finally, it all came together during IA's late muzzleloader season… #MuddyTV #TrophyPursuit

Posted by Muddy Outdoors on Monday, February 6, 2017

Box Blind Hunts Lesson: As you can see, a wise doe eventually got right downwind and smelled them. Luckily, the buck stuck around a while longer to check the scene, and Jen made a great last ditch shot. As much as you prepare, you never can fully fool a deer’s nose, so you need to be prepared to make any shot count. 

Muddy | Hang and Hunt Tips & Tactics

Tips on how to be deadly quiet when setting up stands while hunting

Killing a mature whitetail on public land is one of the most challenging yet gratifying experiences a deer hunter can hope to achieve. If you’ve been reading recent magazine articles or listening to Podcasts from the nation’s top hunters, you’ll soon discover that most of these bucks are killed on the first sit of the year. Finding this type of success doesn’t come easy, nor is it by chance. These hunters are fine-tuning their setups year-round to minimize their impact on the area they intend to hunt.

If you want to replicate this type of success, you’ll need a mobile system from the time you leave your truck, until you are hanging your stand. Below are some of the critical elements to making your hang and hunt experience a success. 

Right Equipment and Practice

At one time, there were very few options when it came to a mobile system for the average hunter — and most weren’t very good. Some of the stands were loud, some bulky, some heavy, most were uncomfortable; not to mention you couldn’t even climb but a fraction of them because you needed a straight tree. Now, there are a plethora of options, but our team chooses to use a Muddy Vantage and four Muddy Quick Sticks because they’re: 

  1. Light 
  2. Comfortable 
  3. Packable, with a slim profile 
  4. Safe 
  5. Easy to use and quite 

[Text Wrapping Break]Having a setup you can trust and depend on is essential, but it’s even more critical that you know this setup inside and out — before opening day. Nailing down your system ahead of time is crucial to understanding how your stand goes up, and how to minimize the amount of time and noise that it takes to get it safely and securely in the tree.

The number one key to success, are you putting in the practice. It may take five times to get it down, and it may take twenty, but it’s essential that you know exactly how each piece of gear gets up the tree and on the tree.

Aaron Warbritton killed his biggest buck to date using hang and hunt tactics while hunting public land in southern Iowa.  

 

Staying Efficient

There are multiple ways you can modify your setup to meet your needs, but there are a few tried and true methods that will work for every system. Below is a step by step guide on how to stay as efficient as possible from leaving the truck to hanging your stand and back out again. 

  1. Keep it neat and tight: Make sure the sticks and ropes are neatly stacked against the stand, and ratchet the sticks to the stand so they will not make noise when walking.  
  2. Once you’re at the tree, disassemble all the pieces and neatly lay them on the ground and tie the sticks to a pull-up rope at different heights. Also, make sure and have your bow or gun on a separate rope and attached to your harness or belt — Once you go up the tree, you do not want to come back down.  
  3. Place your treestand bracket in a pocket or fanny pack so that you can access it quickly once you are at the point of hanging your stand.  
  4. Before climbing the tree, tie off using a lineman’s belt to your safety harness.  
  5. Once you have your sticks and stand hung, tie off with a tether above your head before stepping in the stand.

Once all of your equipment is up, you are ready to hunt — in all, you were from the ground to hunting in ten minutes! Not only that, you can climb more trees than you ever considered while using a climber. 

DIY Modifications

The more you hunt with this setup, the more you’ll consider fine-tuning your gear. There are a few different modifications that can make your stand even more quiet and efficient. Make sure and check the owners manual, or call the manufacturer before doing anything extreme, but here a few basic add-ons’s:

  1. Paracord: Take some paracord and make a cobra weave around the platform of the stand. This will dampen any contact with metal that might occur, and will also with the cold from your stand. 
  2. Stealth Strips: This is an adhesive backing tape that you can add to your stand and sticks, that will again help with the cold and sound dampening. 
  3. Molle Straps: These military-grade shoulder straps will make carrying your stand long distances a breeze.

Jeremy Flinn of Stone Road Media used his Muddy Vantage Tree Stand and Aerolite Climbing Sticks in a hang and hunt situation and arrowed this beautiful Pennsylvania buck on his first sit.

Conclusion

Whatever hang and hunt method you choose, or if you consider going with a climber, getting to know your equipment through practice will make it that much easier, safer and quieter. Remember that the majority of mature bucks are killed on your first sit, so mix up your locations and make this season a success.

Tips for Tagging an Early October Buck

Patterning Early Season Whitetails | October Deer Hunting Tips

Hunting seasons all across the country have opened up and hunters are heading to the field in hopes of having an opportunity at a target buck before the rut goes into full swing.  We took a few minutes and asked some reputable hunters in the whitetail world what their keys are to finding success early and tagging an early October buck.

Mark Drury, Drury Outdoors:

Greener pastures.  This is one of my favorite phases. It incorporates September 25- October 12th and is where DeerCast can be an invaluable tool. The key is to catch a cold front and to setup on a green field in the evening, or close to a bedroom on the first morning after a cold front. 

It’s during this time that acorns are beginning to drop, so finding a good white oak flat to hunt can be a killer strategy for a morning sit. Other food sources deer can’t resist during this time are BioLogic’s Clover Plus and Deer Radishes. Use your most recent information (MRI) from your trail cameras to figure out where best to hunt.  In the past we’ve had great luck hunting out of Muddy Box Blinds on green plots as they help contain our scent and we can place them right where they need to be.

Terry Drury, Drury Outdoors:

Early October is all about getting daytime trail camera photos. Create a green food source like BioLogic Clover Plus adjacent to a mast producing stand of white oaks, with water nearby and you’ve got a whitetail haven. While daylight bucks can be difficult to find at this phase of the season, time your hunts with a rising moon in the afternoon or evening that coincides with their normal feeding pattern or a morning when the setting moon is hanging up later and you could catch a monster heading back to bed later than normal.

 

James Edwards, 540 Outdoors Land Management

It may surprise you but October is my favorite time to kill big deer, second to late season and my least favorite being November. I’ve killed over half of the deer on my walls opening week of bow season. For early October its much like late season in that its all about evening hunts over food. Different then late season though is that there is more food available in early October so the deer have many more options then they do in late season when all you really have to do is having standing grain in the right spot, keep pressure out, and wait on the right wind with brutal cold. So for opening week you either have to have a very strategically placed food plot near where they like to bed (which is my favorite way to hunt opening week) or you have to do your homework with scouting to know where they are staging in the evening before dark. My favorite way to kill an opening week buck is to spend a few years getting to know him and letting him grow, then the year I want to kill him, go in and create a brand new fall food plot that he can’t resist that’s near his early October bedding location.

 

Joe Sir, Rizen Media:

I’ve had a decent bit of success the first week of October in years past. A lot comes down to the structure of your farm, what you are able to do food plot wise and how it hunts. For me the keys have been small secluded food plots near bedding where that I can non-intrusively monitor with trail cameras and that deer feel safe entering during daylight hours.  I have a handful of plots I have designed to fit this need. Brassica plot size ranges from 1/4 to 3/4 acres on inside corners of CRP or larger ag fields. Typically, they are planted in a turnip/brassica mix so the appeal is growing towards the beginning of October when Iowa opens. Also, monitoring these plots in a low pressure way is crucial to success. For me, its a matter of conditioning the deer with how and when I check trail cameras. Every camera is checked by the use of UTV. Its less intrusive than entering on foot as it isn’t out of the norm for activity a deer is somewhat accustomed to in the Midwest. I believe that early season can provide one of the best chances to fill a tag. I look at it this way; if I’m sitting on the couch and get hungry, and chips and salsa are on the coffee table within arms reach I’m probably going to grab them.  Good luck!

Bart Stanley, Team Muddy:

A well timed cold front can always get the big mature bucks on their feet earlier and going back to bed later than normal. I think you either have to have an early season food source (evening) or the food source needs to be a good distance away from the bedding area and you have to sneak into the bedroom or into a corridor of a well known bedroom early in morning. I had luck on the morning of October 4th, 2014 when I killed a nice 155” 9 point 20 minutes after first light as he was going back to a bedding area. It was a time where a nice cold front matched up on a weekend where I needed a NW wind to hunt this spot in AM.

 

Blake Lefler, Team Muddy:

This is a feat that really requires the stars to align, however it is one of the best times of the season to hone in on a specific buck and kill him before the craze of the rut. In October, I think using Muddy trail cameras to pattern the bedding and feeding pattern of a buck is critical. The lowest risk option is to get a good fall food source such as brassicas or clover close to the bedding area of a target buck. From there, pick days to hunt where the chances of daylight movement are statistically higher; high pressure, cold fronts specifically. The high risk option would be to identify a specific bedding area that a target buck is using, and attempt to hunt it on a morning; again choosing weather conditions that are favorable for daylight movement. Get into your stand long before grey light to be certain you can get into the area with the best chance that most deer will still be feeding. This tactic can be deadly but can also educate a buck that he is being hunted long before he becomes vulnerable to the rut. Weigh out your options before deciding if this risk is worth the reward.

Chris Dunkin, Muddy Outdoors:

Early October has turned into one of my favorite times of the year to hunt.  Patterning a big buck through the use of Muddy Pro Cams is the first step.  He may be hitting acorns on an oak flat, staging in a certain area before entering a large ag field, or frequenting a small food plot that you’ve planted.  Regardless, the key is to find him through the use of your cameras, get him on a pattern, and then move in when the time is right.  Just because the season opens on October 1st doesn’t mean that you need to hunt if the weather conditions aren’t right.  The element of surprise should be on your side when you slip in to kill him, so hold your cards tight and make a move when it makes the most sense to do so.

Conclusion

Hopefully you can take a few of the tips above and use them to catch up with an Early-October buck.  As the season rolls on, we want to wish you the best of luck. Please share your success stories and photos on our Muddy Outdoors social pages!  We would love to hear about your #MuddyMoments this year, and we want to sincerely thank you for trusting in the Muddy brand.

 

 

4 of the Best Fall Food Plot Setups

4 of the Best Fall Food Plots for Deer Hunting

As most hunters figure out, hunting mature Whitetails is a game of chess.  Hunters are constantly strategizing, analyzing, and scheming to be one step ahead of these sly creatures.  One of the best ways to gain that upper hand is to learn how to be a better hunter; i.e. become a better chess player.  But what if you took it one step further?  What if you could actually create your own chess board?  Essentially, you could then predict their next move and know where that buck is going to be at certain times of the season. Some of the very best fall food plots for deer can do just that…provide a chess board that nearly guarantee’s a win!  

Food plots do a lot more than just providing a healthy source of food for your deer herd.  They also shape travel patterns, create hubs for social activity, and recruit neighboring deer.  These are all great benefits of planting food plots, but what most hunters overlook is how to effectively hunt those plots and maximize the output of that resource.   

How many times have you sat in your tree stand with a proud grin on your face as you’re overlooking the plush green vegetation that you’ve worked endlessly to create during those summer months?  It’s a rewarding feeling, no doubt.  Now imagine seeing your target buck walk out into your plot 15 minutes before dark.  You’ve only seen nighttime trail camera photos of him and thought he was virtually unhuntable.  Now he is broadside at 20 yards and has no idea you are there.  That proud grin just turned into a full ear-to-ear smile.  Give yourself this ultimate advantage by following these top 4 food plot setups to bring in mature bucks.

Food Plot #1  Early Bird Buffet

This is an early season plot that can be a dependable location for that first sit of the year.  It’s purposely designed so that it’s not too invasive and you should try to use the taller grasses and foliage as a screen when accessing your stand in these warmer months.  Play your cards right and you could be first in line at the taxidermist.   

Where:  Ideally you would like to hug tight to a water source such as a creek or pond, but not too far from bedding areas in order to draw in mature bucks from their bed in daylight. 

Seed:  Soybeans and sorghum are rich in protein, green during this time of year, and the deer can’t stay off it. 

Shape:  Wrap this plot around the water source so the deer can’t skirt around when traveling through.  If you can, design a pinch point as the entry into the plot from the nearest bedding area. 

Trail Camera:  Set the Pro-Cam 20 on time-lapse mode to capture those entry and exit points. 

Stand:  Avoid working too hard and getting hot and sweaty when climbing into your early season stand.  The Odyssey XTL ladder stand is reliable, comfortable, and easy to access with minimal effort on big plots like this.

Food Plot #2 – Temptation Island

The Temptation Island plot is a staging kill plot that needs to be planted early to minimize intrusion in the months approaching hunting season.  The goal of this food plot is to position this island plot in a way that bucks do not have far to travel when getting up from their beds to satisfy their famished bellies.  Hunting this close to bedded bucks will result in a higher number of daytime sightings and shooting opportunities. 

Where:  Placed in between buck bedding and communal food sources. 

Seed:  Clover is your best choice since its reliable, browse tolerant for small plots, and low maintenance. 

Shape:  This plot doesn’t have to be large in size.  Just big enough to entice mature bucks to stop for an appetizer on their way to the main course. 

Trail Camera:  Make sure your Pro-Cam 14 or 20 is setup close to your tree stand.  You don’t want to be dropping your scent when pulling cards on the opposite side of the food plot.  Try placing a mock scrape in front of the camera on the edge of the plot, which adds something a buck will have to check if working through the area. 

Stand:  Shifting winds on a small plot can ruin your hunt real fast.  Use a Muddy Vantage Point stand with Aerolite climbing sticks to allow for ample mobility.

Food Plot #3 – The Show Time Plot

This is where all the magic happens.  The purpose of the Show Time plot is to create a stage for rutting activity.  You want to focus on attracting does to this food source, which will lead to bucks cruising through with their noses on the ground looking for a girlfriend.  Love is in the air, so take advantage of those testosterone filled bucks who let their guard down. 

Where:  Best locations are pinch points, funnels, and downwind of doe bedding areas. 

Seed:  Oats and peas, even combined with winter wheat and rye work really well here since they are highly resistant to early season grazing, ensuring your plot won’t be picked clean before the rut begins. 

Shape:  Shapes can vary depending on the landscape, however, you want to create a wide view for yourself so you don’t get surprised by bucks chasing at high speeds.  Multiple fingers like a turkey foot food plot design could work wonders if you’re hunting with a rifle. 

Trail Camera:  Pro-Cams are best placed in front of scrap trees and rub lines where you will typically see a lot of activity in and out of the plot.  If the plot is not designed with multiple fingers like a turkey foot, you can simply set the Pro-Cam high and on time-lapse to gather general daytime feeding intel. 

Stand:  The Nexus XTL provides the height and the large platform to maneuver around for a better position when that rutted up hit list buck comes within range.

 Food Plot #4 – The Binger Plot

As the late season begins, bucks are worn out from the rut and have shed a lot of weight.  In order to survive the winter, they need to pack the pounds back on and indulge on as many sugars and carbs as possible.  This is where you can really take advantage of shooter bucks that typically spend their home range on neighboring properties.  If those surrounding areas do not have a late season option to help sustain those deer populations, you can bet they will travel to your Binger plot to bulk back up.  Bottom line…. If you have food, they will come. 

Where:  Plant this plot in the interior sections of your property.  You will find bucks adjusting their core areas and a main food source will allow you to inhale neighboring deer. 

Seed:  Brassica’s, such as turnips, generate an elevated level of glucose when hit by a cold frost.  This can be combined with a strategy earlier in the year for standing grain, buy planting early maturing soybeans (turn faster for brassica planting).  You can also mix brassicas with winter wheat, rye, and even oats to provide more tonnage and draw deer in before the brassicas become attractive.  Bucks will hammer this type of fall food plot to get energy for recovery, as well as scent check remaining does and fawns feeding in the plot. 

Shape:  Planting in long rows to create shooting lanes for firearms, muzzleloaders, and crossbows can be extremely effective during this time period. 

Trail Camera:  Positioning Pro-Cams on field edges overlooking the food plot will fill up your SD cards with quality intel.  Don’t be surprised if you have a few bucks show up that you have not seen before.  The Muddy Pro-Cam features the hybrid mode, allowing time lapse cameras to also catch any movement, so set the camera up overlooking the field and a potential funnel to tighten your hunting setup. 

Stand:  Investing in a Muddy Bull or Penthouse blind provides different window options depending on your weapon of choice and keeps you nice and warm during these frigid winter months.

Conclusion

Food plots aren’t just a means of generating food on your property.  Besides helping to sustain a balanced and healthy deer herd, food plots can (and should) be used as a tool when planning out your hunting strategies.  Invest your time and energy in the offseason and you will capitalize on your sweat equity if you utilize these food plot setups.  Procrastination only leads to excuses and frustration during the season.  Well procrastination ends now.  Take that next step.  Creating environments that make mature bucks more predictable, placing yourself in those areas during the right time of the year, and investing in quality equipment will ultimately produce consistent opportunities at trophy bucks year over year.

 

5 Ways to Locate & Pattern Your Top Hit List Buck

Muddy Trail Camera Tactics | Trail Camera Tips for Finding Hit List Bucks

By: Aaron Outdoors  

Can you feel it? Yep, that’s right. It’s the anticipation of your next trail camera card pull. It’s like Christmas in August. The food plots have been planted, the stands are being hung, you spend your evenings glassing for your next trophy buck, but the most exciting part of the pre-season is that mid-day card pull. Now is time to take your scouting to the next level with the certain trail camera tips that help develop your buck hit list. Trail cameras are a vital tool to all hunters nowadays and there is no better way to take inventory on your deer herd than top notch trail cameras like the Muddy Pro Cam 14 or 20. For that reason, hunters have to know where to place these cameras. Here are 5 sure fire trail camera locations to locate and pattern your hit list bucks for this fall! 

1. The Edges of Food Plots

This time of year the deer have one thing on their mind… FOOD! There is also no shortage of it. Food plots and agricultural field edges are perfect locations to set up a Muddy Pro Cam. I prefer either a soybean field or clover plot as these are both very popular food sources during late summer for whitetail deer. The Muddy Pro Cam 20 is a perfect tool because it includes a time-lapse feature that allows you to create a custom period for photos in your food plot. My favorite time to use this feature is before dusk, because this is the time I generally spend hunting these types of food sources in the early season. A Pro Cam in the edge of a food plot will help you pattern a shooter buck for opening day!

2. Mineral Sites 

One of my favorite locations to set a Pro Cam up in the preseason is over an established deer mineral site. More than likely, your shooter buck has used an established mineral site several times over his lifespan and he feels comfortable using it. I have found that in many cases, bucks will spend several minutes at a time at one mineral site, providing me with tons of photos that I can use for the current year and years to come. Different types of deer minerals can work for your piece of property. Find one that works for you and set out a Muddy Pro Cam! You won’t be disappointed.

3. Entry & Exit Routes to Known Bedding Areas

This tactic may have actually started with some post season scouting from last season. Many bucks tend to use the same bedding areas each year, if at all possible. Of course, there will be some bucks that change their patterns, but if you can locate where a particular deer is bedding, which way he is entering and exiting the bedding area, then you can find a pattern you can work with. The Muddy Pro Cam’s trigger speed is key to capturing mature bucks entering and exiting his bedding area. This can be a risky tactic at times, you must be sure to not bump a buck out from his bedding area. I recommend leaving this camera location unbothered for several weeks in between card checks to leave as little human scent as possible so the deer feel comfortable. If executed properly, you may just find where your top hit-lister spends most of his time.

4. Deer Scrapes 

Yes, scrapes. I know it’s not mid-October yet and no I am not getting ahead of myself. Over the years our Muddy Pro Cams have shown that particular bucks will use the same scrape year round. Of course, most of the activity comes during the pre-rut period, but don’t count out old scrapes. If you can find a mature buck using a scrape in late summer, you know you’re in his home range and you just may have the ticket to a successful hunt this fall. I prefer the Muddy Pro Cam 20’s Video Mode over these types of scrapes. One you can see which direction the buck approaches the scrape and two, who doesn’t love awesome video of a velvet buck?! Scrapes are another fun and successful way to pattern big bucks!


5. Water Sources for Deer 

Of course I couldn’t leave out one of the most important if not THE most important for deer habitat…WATER. Obviously deer have to have water to survive, and the summers across most of the country tend to be very hot and dry. This makes water sources an essential place to set out trail cameras during this time of the year. A Pro Cam over a watering hole, creek, or stream could be vital in patterning a mature buck. Deer will often leave bedding areas and food plots in search of water, making it a perfect place to hunt late in the evenings of the early season. If your hunting property does not have a water source, make one. Large tubs and even kids swimming pools can be made into a great tool in attracting whitetails to a water source. If you have a large water source such as a creek or river running through your property like I do, you may have better luck setting your camera over well used deer trails leading to the water. This could help pinpoint your top hit-lister.

We all have our favorite tactics in patterning mature whitetails, but of course, all of mine lead back to the Pro Cam series by Muddy. They are small, concealable, and reliable tools for patterning big bucks! Get your Muddy Pro Cams today so you, too, can execute your favorite tactics and have your Muddy Moment this fall!

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.   

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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!