Holiday Gift Guide for Deer Hunters

The Deer Hunting Holiday Gift Guide You Need

Each holiday season, people spend an awful lot of time pondering what to get for family members and friends. While it’s good to be thoughtful about gift ideas, the process will be a lot easier when shopping for deer hunters if you use this holiday gift guide. And if you’re a hunter, feel free to nonchalantly leave this Christmas list somewhere your loved ones will notice it. Whether you’re looking for some new items for deer camp or simply want to add some new hunting gear to your collection, there are some great ideas in this hunting gift guide.

1. Pole Saw

For those with land to manage and tree stands to move around, having the right tools makes a big difference. Whether you have a limb blocking a shot from your tree stand or you just need to clean up some trees while doing timber stand improvement projects, the Muddy pole saw is the perfect companion. Its dual-purpose design allows you to use the serrated blade for larger branches and the pruners to cut smaller ones.

2. Trail Camera

Is there such a thing as too many trail cameras? We don’t think so, which is why it deserves a spot on this holiday gift guide. The Pro-Cam 16 Bundle provides everything you need to quickly put it out yet this winter or save it for next spring. Either way, the 16 MP camera takes great pictures or videos and the invisible flash doesn’t spook deer. This is a great hunting gift idea.

3. Shooting Bench

Having a sturdy and well-made shooting bench is important for sighting new rifles in or just plinking practice. The Extreme Shooting Bench has a steel benchtop and comfortable, padded seat, and the seat and top can swivel independently or in tandem. The rubber molded gun rest will keep your firearm sturdy and keep you on point. The bench is equipped with some interchangeable accessories, such as a gear hook, gear basket, and cup holder.

4. Safety Harness

If you’re willing to consider items on a holiday gift guide, there’s a reasonable chance you love the person you’re shopping for. What better way to show that than get a new safety harness for them? The Ambush Safety Harness is weighted for 300 pounds and should be used every time a hunter leaves the ground. As you do your holiday shopping, keep their well-being in mind.

5. Camera Accessories

If the person you’re shopping for wants to start filming their hunts, consider getting them a critical self-filming accessory: a camera arm. The Basic Camera Arm is a great introductory option for people to start filming their hunts. It is fully adjustable and has a quick-release mount to make things easier in the tree stand. A camera arm is a great gift idea for hunters.

6. Shooting Rail

When you have to shoot a rifle from a tree stand, it helps to have a shooting rail to keep you steady and improve your accuracy. The Muddy Universal Shooting Rail attaches to any tree stand setup and adds a layer of stability to help in that critical moment. This makes it the perfect tree stand accessory.

7. Seat

If you prefer to hunt from blinds (whether on the ground or in a tower stand), it can keep you more comfortable in different weather conditions. But to stay comfortable all day, you need a good seat. The Swivel Ground Seat is reasonably packable at only 15 pounds, and swivels 360 degrees so you can make the shot when needed. Since most hunters tend to opt for a 5 gallon bucket, this is a sure hit on this holiday gift guide.

8. Hunting Blind

If a swivel seat will impress, imagine their surprise if you got a new hunting blind for them. The VS360 blind sets up quickly and can fit a couple people comfortably. It has large windows with shoot through mesh and includes brush strips so you can quickly brush it in and disappear. Including hunting blinds on your holiday gift guide will quickly make you #1 on their list.

9. Game Cart

Depending on where you hunt and how close you can approach your hunting location, having a good way to get the deer out of the woods is an important consideration. The Mule Game Cart allows you to haul a 300 pound deer easily and the rubber coated handles make it more comfortable and ergonomic.

10. Lift System

Once you get a deer, it’s nice to have an easy way to lift it up to allow for easier skinning and butchering. The Magnum Lift System has a weight reduction pulley system to lift up to 500 pounds easily and by yourself. It has an automatic self-locking system to stop once you get to the height you need the deer.

Hunting Blinds for Kids| Tips for a Fun and Safe Hunt

Choosing the Best Hunting Blinds for Kids

Chances are pretty good that you learned how to hunt from a family member as a kid. You likely have fond memories of getting your first deer or turkey with a parent at your side. On the other hand, you probably also have some memories where things didn’t go as planned. Let’s face it, hunting with kids is not always an easy or fun thing to do. But you’ll both find that the challenges fade away with time while the good memories stand out. Here are some tips on finding hunting blinds for kids, and why they can improve your time afield with young ones. 

Youth Hunting Challenges

As mentioned, most kids aren’t usually natural-born hunters. They are loud, curious/talkative, fidgety/impatient, and have short attention spans. It requires a lot of teaching, hunting wisdom, and time afield to really practice the skills involved before they will get better at it. We need to constantly keep that in mind when we take kids hunting. If you lose your patience while youth hunting or it becomes more of a chore for them than a fun time with a parent/guardian, a kid can quickly lose interest. Given the time required for frequent bathroom breaks and their short attention spans, hunting with a kid is likely going to be much shorter than if you were solo hunting. As long as you go into it with the right expectations on your end, it can still be a great outcome and a fun time. Not to mention, it’s critical we get more kids out hunting with the decline of hunting participation rates. 

Benefits of Hunting Blinds for Kids

Given those specific hunting challenges, there are many benefits to using hunting blinds for kids. For example, compared to tree stands, hunting blinds are much safer to use. When you don’t have to leave the ground or are fully contained within an elevated blind, it removes a lot of the risk involved in hunting with a child. They are also usually much more spacious, accommodating two or more people, hunting gear, and comfortable chairs (such as the Muddy® swivel ground seat) as well. Nobody likes to be cramped, but especially kids. Third, blinds can hide your movement, sound, and scent (to some extent), which are all positive things when taking kids out. Many children just can’t hold still for very long, and their fidgeting is obviously not a good match with deer or turkey hunting. Blinds conceal that movement and will also help to muffle the sound of their many questions (and your patient answers). Depending on what kind of hunting blind you are using, it can also contain your scent and stay warmer so you can hunt longer without spooking deer. 

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Different Hunting Blind Options

Choosing a hunting blind can be intimidating sometimes given the range of options out there, but if you really want to focus on hunting blinds for kids, you can use these challenges and specific benefits above to make the selection process simpler. Here are three primary types of deer hunting blinds to consider, and how each of them works for youth hunting.

Box Blind

A box blind, such as the Muddy Bull, can be placed on the ground or elevated on a tower/platform for increased visibilityInsulated box blinds protect you well from the wind and weather, allowing you and your child to stay warmer. If you hunt firearms seasons in northern states, cold and miserable weather is basically a guarantee, so it’s a great way to let your kid experience it while not being miserable themselves. They also usually have sealed windows to keep scent contained and muffle your sounds. With a silent swivel chair, kids can have a great and comfortable time hunting. That being said, box blinds are not very mobile and so it is best to position one of these in a spot you know will offer great hunting action once the weather cools down and you plan on needing hunting blinds for kids. 

Ground Blind

Most ground blinds are normally lightweight, pop-up designs that allow you to be mobile pending the deer action. Since kids can be impatient, this is a nice feature. If you can keep the blinds where they can see a fair amount of deer traffic, they will stay interested – even if it’s just does and fawns walking by, it’s a great way to teach them how to calm their nerves. If you want, some ground blinds can also be elevated onto a platform as well, but most are simply used at ground level. As far as ground blind tips, it always helps to brush your blind in and leave it out for a few days before you hunt it. This will help maximize your chances of connecting with an animal while your kid is with you. Considering what to wear in a ground blind, make sure you and your child match the inside of the blind, which is usually black or dark. That way, any movement a deer might see inside is hidden even further. Of course, the Muddy 5 Sider conceals your movement extremely well by using dropdown windows with camo patterns and shoot-through mesh. 

Bale Blind

A bale blind is a variation of a ground blind, specifically focusing on the shape, color, and texture of a common agricultural field feature: a round hay bale. In farm fields and meadows, deer are used to seeing bales scattered across fields, so they don’t even question it – particularly when there are other actual hay bales in the field. When considering hunting blinds for kids in farm country, especially after hay fields have been harvested, the Muddy Bale Blind is a great option. It conceals your movement and allows you to get close to the deer action. When sitting adjacent to a line of other bales, bale blinds can also allow you to sneak in and out of the blind when deer are out in the field. 

As far as the best hunting blinds for kids, it all depends on your hunting preferences and your kid’s personality. If you know that your kid is particularly impatient or the weather forecast looks bad, an insulated and comfortable box blind is probably your best bet. But if you want to move closer to the action, the weather is nice, and your kid seems able to stay calm, a ground blind or bale blind can be perfect too. What’s most important, though, is that you take your kid – even if it’s only for an hour after school. If you keep it fun for them, it will make a lasting memory for both of you. 

Ground Blind Tips With Drury Outdoors And Keith Beam

Ground Blind Tips With Keith Beam & Drury Outdoors -100% Wild Podcast

On a recent episode of Drury Outdoors 100% Wild Podcast, host Matt Drury and Tim Kjellesvik talk with Double Bull blind co-inventor and GSM Director of Product Innovation Keith Beam. During this podcast, Keith gives insight into the development of the Double Bull blind and what’s to be expected from Muddy’s line of ground blinds in the future. The guys share some laughs along with a few proven ground blind hunting tactics.

Summertime To-Do List For Hunting Season

Getting Ready For Fall

It’s hot!  With heat indexes soaring near triple digits in much of the country, that last thing on your mind might be the fall deer hunting seasons.  Preparing for them shouldn’t be, however.  Regardless of the heat and humidity, if you expect to have success this fall, then you’d better get busy checking off the boxes on this summertime to-do list.

Trail cameras are a big part of your summertime to-do list:

As each day finds the buck’s antlers adding more inches, setting up and placing trail cameras is important if you want to know what kinds of bucks you have running around.  They will also let you know where they are – and are not – frequenting.

If you want to make your cameras a larger player in your summertime to-do list, be sure to place them strategically.  Water sources are always good places to set up a camera or two.  Beyond that, of course, look for well-used trails and set one up wherever you find one, especially if you find an area where more than one trail converge.  This will increase the number of pics you get, as this is an indicator that deer are coming from all areas your hunting property to this spot, or that it is a focal point in different travel routes for deer for some reason.

If you are lucky enough to find a licking branch, this is an absolute must for a camera.  And if you’re ahead on your summertime to-do list and already have all of your cameras set, pull one from somewhere else to place here.

If there has to be one thing to avoid on your summertime to-do list of setting out trail cameras, it would be to avoid putting them out in windy or weedy places.  If you do, every time the wind blows the weeds in front of your camera, or a leaf in front of it, it will snap a photo of nothing, and those get boring really fast.

One more no-no about trail cameras when thinking about your summertime to-do list is to try to avoid putting them in areas that will cause you to be too invasive in order to check them.  You don’t want to spook deer or allow them to pattern you before the season starts.

Scouting is a big part of any summertime to-do list:

Scouting doesn’t start as the season draws near; it should be a continuous process through the year.  Scouting in the summer is as good as any.  It allows you to identify travel routes and feeding areas that the deer are using when there is no hunting pressure, which can be invaluable for early season sits.

It also enables you to see how many, and what types of bucks, are hanging around.  Often, they are in bachelor groups this time of year, making getting an eye on them easier.

There is no need to go deep all the time on your summer scouting trips.  A lot of the time, you can spot bachelor groups of bucks and does feeding in crop fields from the road.  Or consider parking and walking a short distance to a fencerow, hill or other easy to get to spot where you can glass the area without tromping through the woods.

You’ll be surprised what a little scouting can do to improve your summertime to-do list, that even trail cameras can’t do for you.  Putting boots on the ground allows you to see well-worn trails, old rubs, and scrapes, identify water sources you may not have known were there and observe deer in areas where your cameras aren’t.  It also helps you pinpoint bedding areas, fence crossings and the like.

Treestand preparation and placement should be a part of your summertime to-do list:

A lot of people put it off until closer to the opener, but when going through your summertime to-do list, putting your treestands up and preparing them now should be on your list.

There are valid points to wanting to wait until closer to season to hang stands.  Deer patterns can change between summer and fall, requiring you to move a stand or two after putting them up, but overall, where you place your stands now will still be the right decision come fall.  For those always occurring instances where you notice deer using an area during the season where you don’t have one hung, keep an extra or two in the garage for just this reason, but you don’t want to wait until season approaches to hang them all.

If you have properly done your scouting and studied your trail cameras, you should already know where you need to hang them.

Sure, it may require torturous hikes through standing crop fields to hang them now versus later, but the extra work now will not only make you more prepared come fall, but it will also allow you to leave the area less disturbed as the season approaches.

 

Hanging stands, and all of the trimming, etc. that goes along with it takes a ton of time; time that really isn’t available as hunting season approaches when there are other things to do and get ready.  Doing it now may be hot and sweaty work, but will be so worth it come fall.

Besides just hanging a stand and trimming shooting lanes, think a bit deeper.  Add clearing brush, weed-eating or weed-killing entry and exit trails to your summertime to-do list also.  Obviously, this isn’t necessary for stands on field edges and the like, but for those hung in the timber, think about getting rid of as much of the debris as you can along the trail in order to make those calm morning entries as quiet as possible.

Food plots should be on your summertime to-do list:

That’s right, depending on what you intend to plant, summertime is the time to plant food plots if you intend to have any.

A wide variety of crops can be planted this time of year, so along with all of the other things, there are to do, planting food plots are another item on a summertime to-do list.

Plants such as beets, oats, tubers, alfalfa, and greens like brassicas are all best when planted in the summer heat.  They are heat and drought-resistant and come up in time to coincide with when you plan to be hunting over them.

Safety, the most important thing on your summertime to-do list:

With all of the important things to get done on the summertime to-do list, none are more important than safety.  Remember that.  Whether scouting, tending plots or hanging stands, practice safety first.  Never ascend a tree without the proper safety gear, such as a Muddy lineman’s belt, and never check or sit in stands without a Muddy safety harness.  Once stands are in place, secure a Safe-Line to the tree so that on your first hunt of the year, you will be tied in the moment your feet leave the ground.

Conclusion:

There really is no off-season when it comes to serious deer hunting.  In fact, if you do it right, there is a lot more work to be done now than once it’s time to be out hunting, so don’t let summer slip by without taking some time to create and knock out a summertime to-do list for a successful fall.

3 Tips For Planning The Placement of Treestands and Blinds

Throughout the duration of the summer months, there’s a lot of whitetail work that can be done. Everything from planting food plots to habitat management work to running trail cameras. Among the litany of items that need to be completed is planning your placement of treestands and blinds if you haven’t already. There are a few things to be thinking about though when deciding where to place these in the summer.

When Will You Be Hunting There?

When it comes to planning on where to place your treestand or ground blind, the first thing you need to think of is when will you actually be hunting out of that given location? Things look a lot different in July or August than they do in October. Deer movement will look equally different. If you are hunting a new property, you want to be looking at all of the factors. Just because there are good deer trails in the summer doesn’t necessarily mean deer will be frequenting the same area come fall.

When planning the placement of your treestands or blinds, try and think how deer will be using a given area based on when you’ll be hunting. For example, let’s think about a given property and say that you’ve got a couple of great clover food plots and deer are hammering them in the summer. If you know you’ll be hunting early in the fall, say in September, you will be better off hanging a stand on or near one of the food plots. And you can also be more liberal with how you trim out your stand because the foliage will still be on the trees come the time you’re hunting. On the other hand, if you know you can’t hunt that property until the rut, you may want to hang that stand either in between or on the downwind side of the food plots, anticipating bucks to be cruising while searching for does. Additionally, you’ll want to be more frugal with what you trim, because by then the foliage will be down, and if you cut out a lot, by the time November rolls around, you could stick out like a sore thumb.

What’s Your Access and Exit Plan?

When it comes to planning your treestand or blind placement during the summer, an often forgotten about aspect of it is your access and exit plan. They are arguably just as important as the physical location of your stand or blind. The summer months can be a great time to plan your access and exit, and if need be can be the time to clear trails, mow paths or anything else.

There’s nothing worse than having your stand in a prime location, getting it set in the summer, and then returning to hunt in the fall, only to realize you failed to establish an adequate way into the stand or a solid way out. A good example of this is to use another scenario to illustrate this point. Let’s say you find a great rut stand in a river bottom during the month of July. You hike in from the main access point, locate the great area, get the stand-up and leave. Then while thinking it over during the following months, you think of using the river as access. You figure you can boat all the way to where you can park on the shore, and then jump right into the stand with minimal intrusion. Sounds great right? You then return to the location during November to hunt with the boat, but halfway into the expedition, the river narrows and there’s logs and debris stretching the width of the river and its impassable without making a ruckus. This is where a lack of planning can hurt you tremendously.

To do it right, as soon as you think of the river being a viable option for access, you should take the boat in and do a “trial” run. Make sure you can get to where you need to be. Bring a chainsaw, handsaw, whatever you need to ensure that if you need to clear the way, you can do so. That way when you show up to hunt later in the fall, you know you’ll be good and won’t have to worry. You’ll be able to get in quiet and clean and can focus on the hunt itself.

What Wind Direction Will You Need?

This is also a very important part of planning your treestand and blind placements. As you think through everything to help yourself be as successful as possible, you need to be thinking about what kind of wind direction you’ll need to make a spot great. If you are hanging a stand that will be a primarily early season spot, be thinking about warmer days and southerly winds. Don’t hang just one early-season stand where you need to have a Northeast wind to hunt it. Odds are you won’t be able to hunt it that often, or you’ll just mess things up. The same can be said for a rut stand. Once you find the perfect area, think through the wind directions. Often times as it gets colder and fall progresses, you’ll have more Northerly winds, especially in the upper Midwest. If the area that you’ve selected as a primary rut spot is that good, you should consider hanging a couple of different stand or blind options, so you have more than one option with different wind directions.

Conclusion

As you plan where you want to place treestands and blinds during the summer, there are a lot of things you should be thinking about in order to obtain the highest level of success possible. These three that have been laid out will no doubt help you be successful. If you’re thinking about when you’ll be hunting a given location, how you’ll get in and out of the spot and the wind direction you’ll need, you’ll be well on your way to having a treestand or blind in a solid spot come fall.

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. 

Summer Checklist | Are You Ready For Deer Season?

Summer Deer Hunting Checklist

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

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

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

Offseason Deer Hunting Checklist

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

Food Plots

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

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

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

Create/Organize Your Maps

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

Plan What to Do with Your Trail Cameras

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

Mineral, Supplements, and Bait

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

Build Cover

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

Stands

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

Glass

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

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

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

Effective Turkey Decoy Strategies for Hunting Out of Ground Blinds

Turkey Decoy Strategies When Hunting from Ground Blinds

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

The Right Way to Use Decoys from Ground Blinds

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

Trophy Pursuit’s Turkey Camp, Part 2

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

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

Top 3 Ground Blind Turkey Decoy Strategies

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

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

Ground Blind Set Up #1 – Jake and Hen

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

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

Ground Blind Set Up #2 – Feeding Hen

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

Ground Blind Set Up #3 – Strutting Gobbler

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

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

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

spring turkey hunting

Spring Turkey Hunting Methods

Spring Turkey Hunting Methods and Tools

As with any outdoor activity, the better prepared you are beforehand, the more likely you are to enjoy your time doing it. The same is true for spring turkey hunting. In the unpredictable spring weather conditions, you never know what you will face. So if you’re wondering how to hunt turkeys in the spring, you need to decide how you’ll go about it first. This spring turkey season, take some time to consider your personal hunting approach and that can tell you a lot about how to stay comfortable the whole time you’re out.

Choosing Your Turkey Hunting Method

Let’s start with some spring turkey hunting basics. Everyone’s got their own way of doing things and personal preferences. But there are really only two styles of hunting when it comes to spring turkey hunting. You’ll either be in a ground blind of some sort or exposed on the ground. You could hunt them from a tree stand, but it’s not as common for spring turkey hunting season. Depending on which type of hunting you like to do, you’ll have to adopt different methods to stay comfortable in the field. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, which we’ll discuss below. Take your pick and see which sounds better.

Ground Blind Hunting

Using a ground blind has a lot going for it for spring turkey hunting. A turkey’s primary predator defense mechanism, and thus its strongest sense, is its vision. When you move at ground level without any kind of cover, a turkey is very likely to spot you and that will be the end of your turkey hunt. Ground blinds are obviously one of the best ways to stay hidden and out of sight from such keen vision. Since there are only a few open windows, you can move around significantly more inside a blind without spooking turkeys away. That makes them such a great bow setup for turkey hunting; you can grab your bow and draw it without really worrying too much, especially if they’re focused on your spring turkey hunting decoys.

Blinds also have the added benefit of keeping you protected from the elements while you’re out there. Rain and wind can make for a pretty miserable time in the woods. But when you can hunker down inside a blind and stay warm and dry, you’re more likely to stay out longer. Obviously, more time afield can help increase your odds of putting a gobbler down for good. Since you’re well-hidden, you can also afford to sit very comfortably. The swivel ground seat from Muddy® is a great option for turkey hunting from a blind. It comes with a convenient carrying strap, is very stable, and can swivel 360 degrees to allow you to get in position for a shot quickly. It’s slightly heavier at 15 pounds, which makes it a good candidate for bringing the seat out when you set the blind up (ahead of the hunting season). It’s already colored black, so it will blend into the dark blind interior, and then you can leave it for when it’s time to hunt.

Of course, the primary drawback to this style of spring turkey hunting is that it isn’t as portable and adaptable as just sitting somewhere. If you notice lots of turkeys congregating on the other side of a field one day, it would take more effort to pick up and move your gear than simply moving over to the other side by yourself. Of course, you could always just move and hunt by yourself in that situation and then resort to your blind if the weather’s not great. You can combine the two methods to take advantage of different situations.

 Exposed at Ground Level

The other primary spring turkey hunting approach is to just sit in the woods or on a field edge somewhere with a good vantage point until a gobbler comes within range. Since you don’t have any concealment around you, this approach means you’ll need to really rely on your turkey hunting camo clothing and natural concealment opportunities, such as shrubs and long grasses, to hide your profile. That makes it tricky for bow hunting turkeys, so this approach is better for shotgun use. You’ll also have to keep your movements minimal and pay special attention to when you are truly not being watched (going back to turkey hunting 101). This can be a tricky catch-22 situation, because you can’t see what’s behind you, and can’t turn your head to check without potentially being spotted. One of the best spring turkey hunting tips is to set up in a good location with lots of cover behind you so you’re able to get away with a little movement when needed. While you could simply set up next to a large tree trunk to lean back against, sitting on the damp, hard ground for a few hours just gets old fast (and it gets old faster the older you are); it doesn’t provide great back support and will start to feel uncomfortable after a short time. Additionally, the best time to hunt turkey in the spring is often in the early morning when dew is thick on the grass and undergrowth. To help avoid these issues, the folding tripod ground seat folds up for easy packing and is camouflaged to use in the woods with some minor concealment in front of you. Being up off the ground a little can also help to produce some better visibility and shot angles around you while keeping your rear end dry.Of course, the downside to this style of spring turkey hunting and the controversial method of turkey reaping is that you are exposed to the elements and can be easily seen. Again, there are ways to mitigate that risk (e.g., good camouflage clothing, being aware of your movements, finding natural cover, etc.), but it is still a risk. As mentioned above, you can combine these two methods easily to take advantage of each scenario you face.

When you head to the field this spring, perhaps very soon, plan ahead for whatever situation you are likely to encounter. If you hunt on private land where the turkeys are not as perceptive and the weather forecast is grim, you should really consider using a ground blind equipped with a comfortable chair. If on the other hand, you hunt mostly public land, you don’t have much choice except to use a ground seat for turkey hunting in the open. But as long as you’re prepared for it, you should be alright.

Bale Blinds 101 | Turkey Hunting with Bale Blinds

Bale Blinds for Turkey Hunting

Hunting turkeys from a blind is an effective strategy when it comes to springtime gobblers. It is even more effective when going after big boss gobblers with kids or inexperienced turkey hunters. The one challenge with portable ground blinds is they stick out like a sore thumb when trying to hunt a food plot, open field or power line where turkeys may be feeding or strutting. Bale blinds give you all the advantages of other ground blinds but fit in much better in open areas.

Bale blinds are nothing more than a hunting blind designed to mimic a round hay or straw bale sitting out in an open field. Unlike traditional ground blinds, hay bale blinds are dull in color, usually comprised of burlap or other natural fabric material left uncolored. The natural coloration blends in much more effectively than a dark camo blind, which is their big advantage when it comes to turkey hunting. Even though you may be hunting areas that have never had hay bales in them, the design of these ground blinds for turkey hunting are exactly what it takes to fool a distant gobbler into making a mistake.

Turkey Hunting from a Blind

Bow hunters chasing turkeys in the spring are very familiar with hunting ground blinds. They are about an archer’s only chance to get drawn on a close bird and make the shot. However, the proven advantages of better concealment, weather evasion and versatility in creating a spot are making turkey hunting from a blind the norm from bow hunters to shotgun hunters.

Even the best turkey hunters get busted year after year. The turkey’s eyesight is one of the best if not the best defenses to avoid predation out there. Concealment, therefore, is the key to consistently take spring gobblers. The standard approach to turkey hunting is finding a tree big enough to block your backside and sitting as motionless as possible. This is Effective, and many mature birds have been killed under this exact hunting setup, but many more turkey hunters have been busted from a quietly approaching bird or trying to get one last box call sequence in, only to be picked out from hundreds of yards down the field. Hunting blinds for turkeys address all these challenges and then some.

The turkey blind removes most uncertainties while afield, giving all turkey hunters a major leg up on mature gobblers. It is tough for even seasoned turkey hunters to sit still for hours waiting and also pick the exact perfect time to move if a bird comes in not as planned. Hunting turkeys from a blind makes it easier to sit for longer periods of time more comfortably and also move when needed without being detected. Also, ground blinds for turkey hunting like the portable Muddy Bale Blind are designed to be light and mobile so that they can be located right in the action.

Five Reasons Bale Blinds Work Well for Turkeys

Clearly a blind for turkey hunting gives you an advantage as opposed to the alternative. A blind like the Muddy Bale Blind works well for turkeys for these five reasons.

  1. Concealment

    Camo style portable ground blinds have a hard time blending into open areas well. Stick one of these blind out in a food plot or an agricultural field and pressured birds may be reluctant to come in. A bale blind presents itself more naturally in these situations, which helps to blend in more when hunting open areas for turkeys.

  2. Disguise Movements

    When hunting turkeys from a blind, you want to leave the camo clothing at home. Dress in all black (or as dark of clothing as you have) to take full advantage of the matte black interior of bale blinds. The dark interior allows you to move into position for a shot or to fire up one last call sequence to get that bird a few steps closer.

  3. Protection

    Spring weather can be unpredictable. As such, there are going to be times this spring when weather conditions will be less than favorable. Hay bale blinds provide protection from the elements, which is especially important when hunting those open areas where there is not protection from trees.

  4. Reduce Noise

    Turkeys stay alive with their eyesight but that does not mean they have poor hearing. A hay bale blind blocks most noises you may make in a blind that could alert a close turkey you may not even know is there.

  5. More Success for All Turkey Hunters

    Hunting ground blinds like a bale blind makes every turkey hunter more successful, but they benefit youth and inexperienced hunters the most. Bale blinds can comfortably fit two people so one mentor and mentee can hunt easily together while remaining concealed.

Early Spring Setups for Bale Blinds

Hunters still need to put their time in before the season to scout and pattern birds, and once you find birds it is time to make plans for where and how to hunt them. There are three early spring areas for hunting turkeys where bale blinds make the most sense.

Strut Zones

The first prime location for a bale blind is in strut zones. These areas are defined by disturbed leaves, broken feathers and increased turkey tracks and scat. Gobblers will seek out these areas from the roost in the morning or later in the afternoon after feeding. Typically, strut zones are found in and around fields like along one edge or a high corner. These open conditions lend themselves to using a bale blind. You can position hay bale blinds in a number of different spots in an open field or food plot depending on where birds are coming from to access the strut zone. A good tip is that mature birds usually visit strutting areas around the same time of day and take the same path to get there. The bale blind works well here because they can be positioned exactly where you need to be to get a shot without worrying about trying to brush in a blind just off the field, which may leave you out of position.

Feeding Areas

Second, feeding areas like established food plots and pastures are going to be good setups for early spring birds. After strut zones, locating areas where gobblers are feeding throughout the day are key in setting up your blind. Turkeys will use perennial food plots and pastures that are close to mast sources to find acorns and bugs. Areas like these that are adjacent to water are ideal because turkeys will frequent water sources throughout the day and the closer one is to a food source the more use it will get. Do not forget about right-of-way areas as well. Gobblers may use areas like power lines and gas pipelines as strutting zones but more importantly, these areas are usually planted with tall grasses that provide ample forage of bugs in the springtime. Again, open areas where birds are feeding are where hay bale blinds shine. Positioning one on a food plot or along a right-of-way will disguise you much better than other hunting ground blinds.

The Fly Down

Third and finally, roosting areas are another location to use a bale blind. Turkeys are going to be roosting in trees, obviously, so how does the bale blind work here you may ask? If you can pinpoint where birds are roosting, you can setup your bale blind to ambush them as they leave the roost in the morning or head to the roost at night. Turkeys are not graceful flyers and usually, they like to leave the roost and land in an open area. Hay bale blinds can be set up along field edges near roosted birds for morning hunts and in open fields or right-of-ways near water to catch birds in the evening heading to roost.

Bale Blind Setup Tips

There is more to hunting blinds for turkeys than simply getting your blind upright. The location is most important when positioning your bale blind, but several other considerations can also increase your odds from a bale blind.

Avoid setting up your bale blind facing the sun if at all possible. Bright sunlight can reveal your movements in the blind by adding light to the already dark inside. As you pick your location, think about the direction the sun will rise from and set to in conjunction with how your blind is set up. The sun’s position throughout the day and your timing on when to hunt the blind may or may not influence your hunt.

Get in a few days early to set up your blind. If you have scouted well, you know when birds are using an area so you can use the times when they are not there to set up your blind. Getting the blind in a few days before the hunt takes the pressure off having to put it up in the early morning hours and potentially risking bumping birds off the roost. More portable bale blinds should still be set up beforehand but can be adjusted if needed or work well for those that have limited time for scouting an area.

You have to go where the birds are this spring and if that means fields, food plots or right-a-ways then a bale blind is your best bet. The whole idea behind turkey hunting from a blind is to minimize the chances a gobbler will spot you. Open areas make it tough to hunt on the ground and other portable ground blinds stick out enough that they may alert birds that something is not right. Bale blinds cannot make you successfully all on their own. However, with good scouting and using setups around strut zones, feeding areas and roosting locations, they can give you the advantage in open areas to close the deal on a mature gobbler this spring.