You found a spot where deer signs and movement are ideal for hunting, but is your treestand in the right tree?
Many hunters spend the offseason studying their scouting apps, such as HuntStand, trying to narrow down the right spot to hang this year’s stands. After finding a good spot location, the fine-tuning efforts of scouting begin. Many hunters use their trail cameras, feed supplements, and spend a lot of time on foot, looking for the signs of where their next trophy buck is spending the most time.
As the season progresses, the number of deer signs, such as scrapes, rubs, and well-traveled trails, begin appearing, allowing hunters to gain more knowledge of where the best locations to get within bow range of a trophy buck could be. Hunters often find suitable locations yet never succeed because their stand is in the wrong tree. Many are guilty of finding a well-used scrape or high-traffic travel route and rush to place a stand in the nearest tree. When it is time to hunt, they sadly realize that they are not in the right spot due to many factors that could have been avoided if they had considered a few details of their stand placement.
One of the number one mistakes many bow hunters make when hanging their treestands is wind direction. It is vital to consider if the wind direction will be in your favor, where deer will most likely enter and exit the area, what the thermals will be like on morning hunts versus evening hunts, and if there is any reason to cause deer to travel downwind of your stand location. All these factors should be considered before choosing the proper stand location.
Better understanding the most likely scenarios, including human scent being the primary concern, helps lower the chance that a deer will be spooked by the hunter and ruin their stand location during the middle of the season.
Enter And Exit Routes To Your Stand
Having the wrong entry and exit routes to and from your stand location can ruin a hunt quickly. As with wind direction details, many factors must be considered before you hang a treestand. Will your scent be blowing downwind of where deer are most likely staying? Are you crossing any travel routes or walking near scrapes or rubs? Having a deer smell you or where you have been before the hunt begins can devastate a hunter’s game plan.
Another critical factor, besides avoiding being smelled, is not being seen also. When walking to your stand, can deer see you? Are you silhouetted? Do deer avoid specific areas because they know you are headed there?
Once an excellent place to hunt has been secured and an excessive amount of deer signs has been found, the next step is to learn as much as possible about the surroundings and how every move the hunter makes before and after the hunt will affect the chances of success.
Are You Concealed After Getting In Your Stand
Sunlight and cover are some of the most critical factors in determining the proper time to be in the tree hunting. After determining where the wind directions will be and what side of the trail, deer sign, food source, or water you need to be on, next is determining if you have enough cover and where the sun will be hitting you at specific times of the day.
Nothing is worse than waiting for an hour or two after daylight, knowing that a deer will walk out at any moment when suddenly you realize that the sun is peaking through the timber and shining directly on your stand. If you make any sudden moves, a deer will most likely pick you out of the tree. Hence, add sun location to the list of factors before you hang your stand. For the best concealment, ideally, you want the sun at your back during the peak movement times. When the sun is behind you, a deer can look in your direction without having the ability to pick you out.
Sunlight can be critical to staying concealed while in the stand. It is vital to wear a complete setup of camouflage, including a facemask and gloves to hide all exposed skin. However, camouflage cannot work to its maximum potential without mother nature’s help. It is vital to have plenty of cover behind and around you, to prevent deer from seeing your movements. Remembering what your area will look like in different parts of the season is vital. Often, hunters assume their stand site is well concealed when they hang them in July or August while leaves are fully grown. Unfortunately, later in the fall, when leaves have changed colors or have begun to fall to the forest floor, the stand site is now left in the wide open. To prevent being seen later in the year, cut branches or use larger trees as a backdrop instead of only relying upon leaves for cover.
Bowhunting whitetail deer can be challenging. Getting within archery range of a mature buck can be even more complicated, which is why when hunters are talking about treestand placement, every scouting technique available should be done to ensure they are given the most significant chance at a shot when a buck finally comes through. If you thought setting a stand was as easy as finding deer and hanging the stand, sadly, you are mistaken. Instead, spend every effort determining proper wind direction, the course in which you go to and from your stand, and being hidden when you’re hunting, and your chances of success will flourish.