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.