The Kill Box: Finding a Mature Buck’s Geographical Weakness

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Consistent Success Is Driven by Planning and Strategy

Do you put in the effort and work it takes to fill deer tags? (Brad Herndon photo)

I’m blessed to live in an area that’s great for deer hunting. Good habitat. Quality genetics. An abundance of food sources. Average hunting pressure. Sure, we have our challenges around here. We don’t have rural Iowa- or Kansas-caliber bucks. We don’t have super-dense deer populations like Illinois or Texas. But, overall, we don’t really have much to complain about.

But regardless of where you hunt, and how good (or bad) the deer hunting is, there’s a common tactical thread that works almost anywhere. It doesn’t have a name, per say. I refer to it as finding the “kill box” — a term we’ve heard on countless action- and war-related movies. So, what exactly is it? It’s finding a buck’s geographical (or topographical) weakness. If puts the deer at a disadvantage. And ultimately (and bluntly), with a well-executed plan on your part, it’s where the deer goes to die.

This tactic demands intense (but effective) scouting. There’s two ways to go about taking advantage of it.

First, in most cases, you have to really get to know a deer to implement this approach. Learning its bedding locations, preferred food sources, watering location, patterns and behaviors will paint a picture of how the deer uses a property. A combination of post-season scouting, pre- and in-season trail camera photos/videos, scouting from afar, and in-the-field sightings while hunting will help produce such information. Mature bucks are generally creatures of habit. This makes the patterning that much easier.

Once you have that information, studying an aerial map, analyzing where the deer moves in daylight (and on which wind directions it does so), and getting a read on the terrain will help determine where the buck is most vulnerable. And where a buck is the most vulnerable is going to be the kill box for that specific deer.

Other times, you can determine where the kill box is without patterning a specific deer. Some properties have really obvious spots that practically scream “hot stand location.” Trees might even have a big X marked on the side of them. They just shine like beacons. Such spots include funnels, pinch-points, saddles, etc. Other obvious terrain types might feel like high-odds spots, too. Or, you might even have enough history with a tract of land that you already know how the deer move about the landscape.

Regardless of these things, taking the next step and homing in on a specific stand location that is a weakness for the deer and puts the odds in your favor is the final move in the planning phase. Then, all you have to do is wait until the right time to move in and hunt.

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