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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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Ground Blind Hunting Tips Photo Credit: Trophy Pursuit

Ground Blind Hunting Tips for the Late Season

 

Ground Blind Hunting Tips For Late Season Hunting

The 9th inning has arrived and while to many hunters that sounds like we are the bearer of bad news, it, in fact, is quite the opposite. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it is your only opportunity at scoring a 9th inning buck. For the past several weeks our blog topics have been diving into preparation for the late season. It now seems to be a fit time to dive straight into the actual hunting tactics. For the last weeks of deer season, a ground blind stands as one of best tools a hunter can possibly use. The characteristics of the late season intertwined with a ground blind’s effectiveness is unrivaled during this time period. Take these ground blind hunting tips for the late season and apply them to your hunting strategy. The time period, the tool, these tips, and the strategy all come together to give you a chance at that 9th inning buck you are so desperately seeking.

With state’s firearms seasons closing, bucks are finally starting to feel the effects of relentless hunting pressure lifting off of properties. This godsend goes hand in hand with the arrival of cold temperatures and the attraction of late season food sources. These ingredients spell out a recipe for one of the best times to kill you hit-list buck, even when it is the 9th inning! The reason for this is not just due in part to the biology and behavior of white-tailed deer, but what tools have been made available that are so extremely effective during these last weeks.

Trail Cameras Tell the Story

In the past weeks, the relentless preparation and work to establish intel on late season food sources have been put entirely on the shoulders of trail cameras. In recent weeks we have provided countless trail camera tips, and trail camera settings for the late season in order to help you discover a “patternable” mature buck on these food sources.

 

 

For all practical purposes, trail cameras have started and are currently telling the story of the late season. With the help of both trail cameras on time-lapse mode, and trail cameras in late season funnels a mature buck cannot go unseen when entering a late season food source. Now, with the season running out of pages so to speak, hunters look for a hunting tool and tactic to finish and close the book on a hit-list buck!

Blinds Finish It

During this time of year blinds, in general, take precedence over tree stands. Whether you favor box blinds, elevated ground blinds, mobile ground blinds, or bale blinds doesn’t matter, the simple fact is that they are the best tool for the job. Why?

Whitetail 101 Episode 17 from Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit on Vimeo.

Bill Winke, the host of Midwest Whitetail and Muddy’s Whitetail 101, explains why blinds are the only tool for the job in the late season. The very nature of deer and the late season support this reasoning…

  • It’s Cold –Temperatures dropping beneath 32 degrees packs quite a punch, especially with a 10 mph wind backing it. Blinds offer a hunter a windscreen and ultimately provides a hunter with a buffer from the weather and late season elements.
  • Deer are FED UP with Movement– By now deer are extremely wary of the slightest movements. This can make hunting from a tree stand nearly impossible. Rather, a ground blind or elevated box blind allows you to conceal your movements.
  • Food Source– In this period of deer season, with the deer so heavily focused on food, easily mobile ground blinds can easily be placed and moved in and around the food sources according to patterns and wind directions.

While blinds might be the best tool for the late season, no tool is without a flaw. The simple fact is that you are at the deer’s level. This requires extra precautions from both their sight and sense of smell. Ground blind hunting in the late season requires special attention in the placement according to both the deer and the food source.

Ground Blind Hunting and Placement Tips

Trail Cameras Weekly’s Weston Schrank walk you through how to determine the perfect spot for the blind on your late season food source. It will depend entirely on these 5 features. Take a good look at these features not only when you are setting up the blind, but every time you hunt as they are constantly changing.

 

  • Food Source – Identify and take a good look at the food source and all of the features and characteristics of the area.
  • Bedding Area – Figure out where the closest bedding area is, also consider where a mature buck might bed.
  • Funnels and Runs – You need to identify the main funnel or easiest travel route for the deer utilizing the food source.
  • Wind and Thermals– The wind direction and more importantly thermals are the most important consideration in relation to your blind setup location, the bedding area, and where the deer will be.
  • Hunter Access -Your entrance/exit route must be safe during the day and night, In order to keep the food source pressure free.

 

By looking at a map and scouting the food source and surrounding area, the above 5 features will easily suggest the best location for the blind.

Other Ground Blind Hunting Tips for the Late Season

Remember, late season hunting is nearly always afternoon hunting. It is ideal for the late season as deer work their way out of the bedding areas on very cold days to feed on the food source early to avoid the frigid temps of the early morning. This feeding will occur in daylight for the most part as they simply need more time to feed! This means thermals mid-hunt to the last hour of light will begin to drop off the hills and follow topography like water. The goal is to set the blind up where we can access it without walking across where we expect deer for scent purposes, or allow deer in the bedding area to see us, and also needing to consider our exit in relation to deer feeding in the field. At the same time, you must make sure the wind direction and/or the falling thermals are exiting the field in a way that for the most part deer will not catch your wind.

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By reading these ground blind hunting tips, you should walk away with three key take home points…One, the 9th inning is not the time to give up on deer season. Two, you should be hunting out of a ground blind during the late season. Finally three, there is a lot more to setting up a ground blind that simply placing it for the shot. With ideal blind setups for late season hunting, observations in place, and required prep work from trail cameras and scouting, you will be setting yourself up for success in either this week or the cold weeks to come!

3-things-you-should-do-now-for-spring-turkey-hunting | Muddy Outdoors

MUDDY BALE BLIND | 3 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW FOR SPRING TURKEY HUNTING

Spring Turkey Hunting | Food Plots, Scouting, and Bale Blind Placement for Turkey Hunting

Its early morning, you’re in a bale blind, overlooking a grown up field. The sun is on the way up,  and you have just received enough light to make out the silhouette of the tom on his roost. You have lucked into the perfect spot. Your hearts pumping, the tom is hammering, and you couldn’t be surer that this will happen, you think everything is in place for a successful, perfect turkey hunt. However, once the sun peaks its head over the trees the tom flies down in a different direction, hits the ground, and bolts to the next county…the hunt is over, and you are left dumbfounded with several questions. Was it my calling? My set up? Was it this field?  While it’s unsure why or what ruined the hunt, one thing is for sure, you did not do your homework! The main reason that often lays behind a failed turkey hunt, is often what’s behind a failed deer hunt…lack of preparation. This groundwork starts now. Do not make the mistake of being overdue on these 3 critical things you should be doing right now for spring turkey hunting.

When it comes to spring turkey hunting everything and everyone has two thing that stands out, from the hunters, websites, and videos, to the TV shows, web shows, and blogs. They focus on giving you advice, tips, and tactics on how to call and how to use decoys. While calling and decoying are vital to the success of a turkey hunt, they should not absorb the majority of the attention. When they do, hunters themselves begin to forget the other key aspects. Once a turkey hunter learns the turkey talk, and knows how to set up turkey decoys, he will realize there are several things not mentioned in “turkey hunting advice or tips”  that should be mentioned and considered before turkey season starts.

Planting Food Plots

One thing that is often forgot about when it comes to turkey hunting, is food plots. Turkey hunters continuously come into this problem, and it goes ignored year after year. What’s the most commonly encountered setting for turkey hunting? Take a guess! You probably would have said one of the two, open timber or a barren Ag field, and you would be right. While those all can produce turkeys, and could lead to successful hunts, you might want to try your hand at actually creating a turkey hunting food plot. The correct food plot will draw turkeys, especially more often than the open timber or a desolate Ag field.

3 Things You Should Do Now for Spring Turkey Hunting | Muddy OutdoorsClover and alfalfa food plots are excellent spring food plots to kill turkeys in. Yes this basically includes the everyday hayfield with red clover species and alfalfa. But for the more determined, a specific food plot, planted in white clover or alfalfa, can create the optimum feeding area and strut zone for the spring.

With turkey seasons already opening up in southern states, plant or over seed your existing food plots as early as you can. Given a good rain, ample warm weather, and sunshine, your clover and alfalfa plots should be established enough to draw in birds (depending on the exact opening date of your season).

Scouting Spring Turkeys

Scouting turkeys before the season opens is also an underestimated turkey hunting tactic. The assumption that “turkeys will always be in that field” can cause over-confidence, and a real shock when the hunter realizes there isn’t a tom within earshot on opening morning. Scouting doesn’t take a lot of time and it can give you a lot of useful information to get on a bird fast. There are three types of scouting you should consider starting now before it’s too late.

  • Glassing- Once birds transition from winter flocks they will switch from feeding on the last acorns in the timber, to spring break up, and concentrating on feeding in green fields. You are able to glass these new food sources with certainty of some sort of regular pattern. Keep your head low, don’t spoke the birds, and glass food plots, fields, feeding areas, and strut zones.
  • Locating- While roosting the bird the night before is one of the most successful proven strategies when turkey hunting, locating them with the same locater calls can give you a good idea of where they will be different parts of the day. The highest point of the property gives you the clearest line of sound to the bird. Let out a crow or owl call and listen for the response.
  • Trail Cameras- Once the flock separates and their food sources change to green fields a hunter should become dependent on trail cameras. Just as in deer (if not more), patterns can be honed in on and taken advantage of. Placing cameras over logging roads, field openings, and over food plots can have you dialed in on birds without spending the time on actually going out and locating them. Spring and summer require a lot from a camera, find out what the requirements are for the best cameras for spring/summer here. Placing out a quality camera on one of these locations with the right mode and settings can/will reveal a lot of information before opening morning.

Now marks the perfect time to begin to scout. Winter flocks are breaking up, acorns have been devoured from the timber, and spring green up is pushing the birds into food plots and fields. The final 2-3 weeks before the turkey season opens is when you need to scout the hardest, but be careful to not spook any of the birds.

Placing and Selecting the Right Ground Blind – Have you considered a Bale Blind?

Once you have patterned the birds to a general idea of where they roost and what field they will be going to in the morning, you will be ready to make your move. Turkeys are pretty oblivious when it comes to ground blinds, meaning you can more often than not get away with placing a ground blind out the same morning you will hunt. However, if you know exactly where the birds will be, you should ideally put a blind out in the final weeks before the season. If the hunting blind sticks out like a sore thumb you can bet they might avoid that section of the field or food plot. If you have still not put out your blind, or have not purchased one yet, then there are several things to consider. If you are looking to purchase a ground blind for turkey hunting this year, understand that the best turkey hunting blind will need to have these requirements.

  • Blends In- A good hunting blind will be able to blend into the setting it is placed. Besides the obvious camo pattern, blinds have recently shift in the thought and ideal. The normal square ground blinds are now joined by popularity growing Bale Blinds. The bale blinds that are now available, create a perfect solution for certain turkey hunting situations. Food plots, pastures, and hay fields are now more easily hunted. Before bale blinds, sticking a regular camo square ground blind in the open filed type scenario would be blatantly obvious to any bird. The bale blinds look inconspicuous in this setting, giving the idea that it’s just another round bale
    3 Things You Should Do Now for Spring Turkey Hunting | Muddy Outdoors
  • Is Spacious- When it comes to turkey hunting out of a blind, space is everything! Whether you are bow hunting turkeys out of the blind, filming your hunt, or taking youth out on opening morning, the more space you have the more successful your hunt will be. Let’s think about everything that might go into the blind. Chairs, bow or gun, camera equipment, backpack, decoys ( if you take one out of your set during the hunt), another person, and potentially a lot more gear depending on what you need to be comfortable in a blind. A blind with ample room, a width around 64+ inches, is ideal.
  • Has Multiple Windows- This one’s obvious, the more windows, the more shooting angle and opportunities you get. A ground blind with multiple windows, different types/sections of windows, and minimal blind spots is ideal. These windows need to be dead silent to take down and back up, you never know what a hunt with throw at you.
  • Has a Flat Black Interior- Staying hidden inside the blind is a must for turkey hunting. A flat black interior on a bind creates the ability to be invisible inside it. When turkey hunting, keep only the front window facing the decoys open, closing up the surrounding windows will restrict the light that’s coming into the blind, and get rid of any silhouettes. When hunting out of a blind, do not wear your normal camo pattern. Wear a black top, black hat, and apply face paint to darken your face, this will virtually eliminate any chance the birds see movement in the blind.
  • Be Portable- Many turkey hunters simply do not like turkey hunting out of blinds. When asked, majority of hunters simply do not like the idea of not being able to move around on a bird. Having a blind that can be portable can be huge advantage on a turkey hunt. A blind that can be packed up, and moved easily, is ideal.
Muddy Portable Bail Blind 2015 ATA Show
(Video)- The new Muddy Portable Bale Blind revealed at the 2015 ATA Show. This blind gives the features and look of the old Muddy Bale Blind, but is now portable.

Again, the main reason that lays behind a failed turkey hunt, is often what’s behind a failed deer hunt…lack of preparation. This year’s preparation starts now, do not make the mistake of being overdue on these 3 critical things you should be doing right now for spring turkey hunting.  Do your homework, put in the work, and know the tools you need for the hunt.