stand Placement During The Summer, For Fall Hunting Season Success

Stand Placement During The Summer, For Fall Hunting Season Success

By: Heath Wood

The excitement of being in the treestand for the first time of the season is a feeling like no other. The anticipation built up throughout the summer months from scouting, checking game cameras, shooting a bow, and hanging stands are enough for any hunter to get a bit jittery come opening day.

As exciting as a new season beginning can be, nothing can dampen the enjoyment faster than realizing, after spending time throughout the summer scouting and hanging stands, that the stand placement is wrong on the first hunt.

Finding oneself in the wrong location begins with what the hunter has done during summer scouting. To confirm that stand locations will be in the right place at the right time, a hunter should have at least three different stand scenarios set and ready before the season begins.

Early Season Stand

One must keep in mind that scenarios change from summer to fall. One of the biggest mistakes I have made over the years has come from patterning deer based on their feeding pattern. During July and August, deer may spend most of their time feeding on green grasses and the abundance of browse found everywhere during the summer.

There are three things to look for when setting an early-season stand location to narrow down a suitable stand location. These three things are high on the priority list in mid-September; food, water, and bedding. Remember that it is still typically warm temperatures during the early season, deer need food and water to survive, and then they lay down to stay cool. To narrow down the right stand location, one needs to find where the least travel is required to get from one priority to another. Again, late summer feeding patterns usually revolve around green grasses; the edge of a timberline that connects with a field, food plot, or crops is an area in which deer can feed then get back in the shade quickly to stay cool. If one can find an area such as this with a pond, creek, or another type of water source nearby, it parallels the perfect early season stand location.

October Stand

During the summer months, deer are in the early season feeding pattern.  In September, these areas may seem ideal for encountering deer movement. However, when mid-September and October roll around, the feeding patterns begin to change. For example, in the Midwest, where I hunt most of the time, it is common to see deer change their travel routes about mid-October when acorns begin falling. When travel routes change, the stand at the edge of a food plot or near a field suddenly becomes less likely to encounter deer. How does one find where deer are located most of the time in September, October, and November when hanging stands in July and August?

The first time I saw a good friend of mine walking through the woods in August with a pair of binoculars, looking up in the trees, I thought he had lost his mind. After quizzing him about what he was looking for, I realized he was very knowledgeable about predicting where the best stand locations would be when the season came around. He explained that he searched the umbrellas of the white oak trees to see which had the most acorns developing. In finding these areas a couple of months before acorns were ready to fall to the forest floor and hanging stands nearby these spots months prior, he could be in the prime when the season is in full swing.

The Rut Stand

The most challenging stand location to predict when hanging treestands during the summer is a stand that will be right for when bucks could be anywhere due to having breeding does and nothing else on their mind.

During the rut, a buck doesn’t have a travel route; it is wherever his nose leads him at any given time, which is why it is hard to narrow down one specific stand location. Since it’s impossible to narrow a location down, it is good to have a stand where there is a lot of visible ground. Areas where the hunter knows deer will be feeding, such as food plots, open areas in the timber, or down a power line, are all excellent areas to see farther distances.

When I find a well-open area, I like to use my Hawk Big Horn ladder stand or my Down & Out Warrior Blind on a raised platform. Using either of these stands allows for a comfortable hunt for a more extended period while watching a larger area. By seeing longer distances, one will have more opportunities to catch buck movement because of the amount of traveling a buck does during the rut. When hanging stands during the summer, the hard part is to make sure to have the imagination of what the area will look like when fall arrives. When hanging stands in the summer, the leaves are still in full bloom; grasses, weeds, brush, etc., are all in full foliage as well. When leaves begin falling during November, an area can change in looks quickly if one will remember what an area looked like the season before or visualize an area without the foliage.

To sum it up, the main reason for hanging stands before the season is to have them ready and in place without disturbing deer. By having multiple stands in different time of the year scenarios, the hunter will be in the right place at the right time without detouring the natural movement of deer. When the big buck arrives, you will be ready and waiting.

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.