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4 of the Best Fall Food Plot Setups

4 of the Best Fall Food Plots for Deer Hunting

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

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

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

Food Plot #1  Early Bird Buffet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food Plot #2 – Temptation Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food Plot #3 – The Show Time Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Food Plot #4 – The Binger Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

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!