All Day Sits Pay Off During The Rut

All Day Sits Pay Off During The Rut

By: Heath Wood

The Power of Patience

After a mid-November morning of bucks cruising, chasing, and multiple encounters with deer the entire hunt, I was eager to see what the rest of the day had in store. At  11:30 a.m., a good friend who hunts in a tree stand nearby texted me and asked if I would like to join him for a quick bite to eat. He told me that he parked on the backside of the property where we both were hunting. The morning’s hunt was full of action; however, my stomach was empty.

After a short drive to meet up with my friend, I was welcomed with a bag full of elk snack sticks, sliced cheese, and crackers laid out on the bed of his truck, like that of a buffet. I stuffed my face with snacks and then headed back to my tree stand to settle for the afternoon and evening hunt. I was amazed at how many deer I witnessed moving through the timber during the early afternoon. At a time of day when I would typically be sitting at camp or home, the deer were already on their feet.

At 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, I was fortunate to harvest a mature buck who was cruising through trying to find any does that were in estrus. If it weren’t for sitting all day, I would not have been there when he came through, or even more concerning, I would probably have spooked the buck when walking in if I had been following my usual hunting schedule.

Plan for Comfort

When hunting mid-November or when the rut is in full swing, it is a good idea to take your playbook or your game plan and throw it away. One of the most exciting things about hunting the rut is that you never know what the deer will be doing or where they will be. The unpredictable nature of bucks during the rut is why it is crucial to find a spot that you know deer usually travel and sit all day. To sit all day, one must be ready to endure ten or more hours in a ladder stand, tree stand or blind. When sitting for long periods, you must consider these three factors—comfort, hunger, and boredom.

Remaining comfortable throughout the day means to have an excellent place to sit and to stay warm. During the rut is one of my favorite times to put in an entire day of hunting. Whether rifle hunting or bow hunting, I prefer using a ladder stand with enough room to sit to ensure I stay comfortable. The 20′ Big Denali 1.5 Man SLS Ladderstand from Hawk is one of my favorite ladder stands. The Big Denali features one of the most oversized seats ever on a ladder stand. The Mesh Comfort seat is 26″ wide and has a 23″ contour backrest. The extra room in the seat and the large area to rest my feet, I can sit comfortably for hours.

The other critical factor in sitting comfortably for an extended period is dressing in layers to adjust to the weather. By dressing in layers, you guarantee that you will be warm in the mornings when it is colder. As the day progresses and temperatures begin to climb, you can shed a layer and remain comfortable without leaving the ladder stand.

Sitting in 20' Big Denali 1.5 Man SLS Ladder stand

Hunters Get Hungry

Hunger can end a hunt faster than you can say biscuits and gravy. It is a good idea to take a few snacks in your backpack to prevent cutting your hunt short and risk being absent from the stand when a mature buck decides to venture through. On a cool fall morning, while sitting in a ladder stand or tree stand, it is common to start feeling hunger pangs after the morning action slows down. This is especially true during the rut; you never know when the moment of truth will present itself. I take a few snacks and drinks with me in my bag to help keep myself in the stand when the action happens.

In the past, I have even packed my lunch to avoid leaving the area. However, I usually keep my lunch in my vehicle, and I get out of my stand during mid-day, only to eat, then climb back into the stand as soon as possible.

Boredom Saves the Buck

The last of the three risk factors for cutting a hunt short is boredom. During the rut, there is usually a lot of action throughout the day. However, there will still be times when nothing is going on. It is easy to let your mind wander during such times. A cell phone is a lifesaver for a roaming mind. When activity slows, grab your phone, check social media, play games, check the weather, or whatever to occupy your mind to prevent boredom. If you are not much of a smartphone kind of person, I use my hunting accessories as tools to prevent boredom. When hunting during the rut, using a grunt call or rattling antlers can sometimes help lure in a buck. They can also be used when times get slow, and you become bored.

A Good Backpack Leads To Good Results

You want to speed up the action anyway, why not make a few grunts or compose a rattling sequence. Other hunting accessories are used the same way. Hunters often carry a backpack or bag such as the Tenzing/Mossy Oak Bottomland Hangtime Day Pack. A hunt backpack like the Hangtime Day Pack keeps all gear, snacks, drinks, and anything else you might need during the hunt always organized and within reach. When times get slow, I get my Vortex Viper HD binoculars out of my pack and slowly scan my entire surroundings. Occasionally when scanning with binoculars, you will spot deer movement that you may have failed to notice with the naked eye.

The rut is a favorite time of the year for all deer hunters. The action is like no other time of the year, and the chance of taking mature buck increases.  Do not miss out on this magical time by being absent when it occurs.

Dead Buck Shot from Hawk Tree Stand

Moving Ladderstands to Changing Deer Behavior

Moving Ladderstands | Ladderstand Hunting Strategies 

For those who enjoy the comfort of a ladderstand, but hunt with a smaller budget, moving your stand might be the only way to keep up with ever-changing deer behavior

Let’s face it; ladder stands are extremely comfortable for bow hunters grinding out long hours during the peak of the rut. Easy in, easy out—not to mention most modern ladderstands come equipped with an extremely supportive back and foot-rest. Ladderstands are also a very safe option for those fearing heights. If you are a hunter who hunts primarily out of ladderstands, but can’t afford one for every nook and cranny of your land—you need to plan your season and how you will move your stands to keep up with changing deer behavior and patterns. 

The Ladder Advantage

As mentioned, ladderstands provide a distinct advantage for hunters seeking comfort from high above. Hawk laddersstands provide some of the most comfortable perches available. Comfort and safety are the top reasons many hunters choose a ladderstand. They are a great way to introduce new hunters to the sport. A knock on ladderstand used to be the disadvantage of not being able to hunt as high as a traditional hang-on treestand with climbing sticks. Those days are long gone however, as ladderstands are produced in heights well above 20 feet. 

Ladder Location

The location of your ladderstand really depends on your goals, and the season you are going to utilize it. For bow hunters, ladderstands close to heavy trails, pinch points and areas of high deer social activity will produce the best results. Gun hunters need to be looking at certain areas overlooking lots of territory. Ditches, benches and high ridge-top bedding areas are prime. Gun seasons are where ladderstands shine. A sturdy rest and comfortable seat for all day sits, waiting for other hunters to bump deer are crucial to gun-hunting success, and a ladderstand can help you do just that. 

Early to Mid-Season LadderStand Strategies

Setting up and moving ladderstands to changing deer behavior requires coming up with a well thought out plan of attack for each phase of the season. In preparation for early season, have your ladderstands set well before opening day of bow season to give your deer ample time to get used to this new object you placed in the field. Not all deer are spooky around new objects, but some are. Proceed with caution. Early season ladderstand setups can be extremely convenient from a noise and intrusion stand-point. A well-placed ladder along a field edge, water hole, or crop field will allow for sneaky, quiet access during the early season. Those using run and gun type mobile setups may have the element of surprise working in their favor, but in terms of noise reduction, you will have them beat with a ladderstand. 

If you need to move your ladderstand in accordance with changing feeding patterns to catch deer moving in the timber on acorns and other food, do so around the first week of October in most areas throughout the U.S. You can usually expect to see a major change from summer feeding patterns to fall range dispersal about the first that time—like someone flipped a switch. Have a buddy come out and help you move your ladderstand before deer move into their fall range. Getting your stand set up near hot acorn locations and scrapes surrounded by cover and travel routes could be your ticket. 

Rut and Late Season

Many prime rut locations are in line with the mid October locations you may have already chosen for your ladderstand. However, if these locations are different, be sure to have your ladderstand in place and moved by the last few days of October, for those hunting in the Midwest or northern portions of the U.S. Be careful about intruding too much into your best spots, make your ladderstand move quick and painless—get in and out. Preferably you should move your ladder before a rain event to wash away scent.

Ladderstands provide an extremely comfortable sit for bow hunters looking to sit all day during the rut. Plenty of space to stretch out, lay a backpack down, or snack for a minute. Many of the Hawk ladder stands are two-person stands that will fit a buddy alongside with you to get you through those grinding rut sits. A ladderstand overlooking a bedding area ridge-top with trails littered through the area can double as a gun and bow hunting set up. Concentrate on the trails for bow hunting and maybe even sweeten a converging trail location with a mock scrape for a close shot. During gun season, being able to overlook all the trails and a general bedding area will give you ample opportunities for a gun harvest. 

Late-Season ventures using a ladderstand can make your hunts painless as well. In areas with steep terrain and varying land features, field edge trees sometimes lean sharply out over a field and offer no chance to get a hang-on up, and safely hung. Ladderstands allow you to lean the platform against a side of the tree most fit for a secure connection. A tree doesn’t have to be very straight for a ladder stand to be hung. Late season is much like early season as bucks might be back on a bed to feed pattern over an area such as a picked cornfield. Finding a prime late-season spot for your ladderstand will allow you to take advantage of the changing behaviors deer experience throughout a season. 

Wrapping It Up

A successful season is all about adapting, changing and tweaking your strategies to best take advantage of deer behavior. With the right tools and planning, moving ladderstands can be painless, it just requires a more planned attack for each phase of the year.