Editor’s Note: Yes, deer season and other large game seasons are way out in the future now, kind of hard to see them when you have to look beyond the rest of Spring and the Summer, that entire 4-5 month period until there is a chill in the air. However Preppers are planners and the points herein for finding a tree stand can be applied to other Prepper concerns beyond hunting. With escalation the norm of the day from the Middle East to the South American coast and the China Sea, with the open assault on our borders by the forces of Anti-Americanism from within as well as from across the expanse of our unfriendly neighbors to the south and crazies being pushed over the edge by the spin-mad Media and their donor class on a weekly basis, I suggest some lessons herein can be applied to more than putting meat on the table and in the freezer.
Most people are aware that the chances of a successful hunt are increased by using a tree stand to keep yourself above a deer’s line of sight as well as prevent your scent from touching the ground. However, borrowing an old adage from real estate, location is everything.
In this article, we will share 12 tips on how to find the best locations for a tree stand as well as developing a placement strategy so that the spot your stand is set up in is productive for your hunt. Equip yourself with your hunting gear and put these tips into action.
#1 The Best Time to Hang a Deer Stand
When you should hang a deer stand largely depends on your exact circumstances. In general, you want to avoid setting up the stand during the hunt itself, although at times, this is necessary. The reasoning behind this is that you do not want to accidentally spook any deer in the area and drive them away.
Ideally, you should set up your stand early, such as a month before opening day. Let it sit all season. While some hunters leave their stands up throughout the year, this is not always a good idea, as they can be subject to theft and vandalism, or even uses that you did not intend.
#2 The Ideal Trees for a Tree Stand
The tree selected should be one that the climber can traverse without trouble. You want to use one that has as little knots and limbs protruding as possible. You may want to keep a small hand saw handy just in case of these. Consider how much coverage you will receive, as well. The ideal tree is one that has a few branches for breaking up the outline without so many that your ability to get in a good shot is interfered with. Good choices include beech and tulip trees. Do your homework as there may be reasons to not chose that perfect tree, like tree disease.
#3 The Minimum Tree Stand Height for Hunting With a Bow
How high you are willing to climb is partly up to your comfort level. But it’s important to keep in mind that if you are not willing to climb fairly high there is no reason to hunt off of the ground. While you can set up 15 – 20 feet off of the ground, a good argument can be made for setting up 25 feet high or even higher. The higher you climb, the steeper the angle of your shots will be. Target practice is definitely worth it for success using a high stand height.
#4 Where to Place a Tree Stand
There are, of course, a variety of factors that go into picking an effective placement for your tree stand. Most will boil down to your pre-season efforts of scouting, though. Most hunters are looking for a convenient area to set up in without the need to trek through miles of brush in the dark. A good rule of thumb is to select a place that will be easy to find while allowing you to make the journey there quietly.
#5 A Bedding and Feeding Area
The locations of where deer eat and sleep will determine how they get to each of these important spots daily. Exactly where they are in your area will depend on location conditions, but whitetail deer typically navigate between these locations mid-morning and mid-afternoon, generally getting to bed in the morning and waiting until later to go feed. These locations may impact hunting pressure.
#6 Seek Out Watering Holes
Deer take drinks from any place that they can find water. This includes muddy puddles, hydration from food, even ditches. However, if there is a body of water close, such as a pond, they will surely take advantage of it. Look for signs of deer around a watering hole, and bear in mind that they are likely to choose a hole that provides a clear view of the surrounding area. Some hunters opt for digging their own watering hole in a location of their choice.
#7 Dominant Wind Directions
For a deer hunter, this is one of the most imperative considerations. Deer constantly check the scents on the wind in order to detect danger. And, of course, each hunting location has its own dominant winds.
Wind directions will vary, so it is a must to check weather conditions before leaving the house. However, any buildings, trees, land contours, etc., will affect the wind direction in any given area. Make it a habit to pay attention to which directions the wind blows as you scout and hunt and soon you will be well aware of what will work best with your deer stand.
#8 Be Aware of Which Times Deer Visit
Modern technology, or trail cameras specifically, has made it much easier to track the movement patterns of deer. Place as many cameras as you can around your hunting area, with focus on obvious bedding areas, trails, and places to feed. There are even cameras that send a picture to your cellular phone, using your service, as they are captured.
Don’t be afraid to move the cameras around to get a feel for your hunting areas. When you spot a deer that you would be interested in taking, use these cameras to take note of where the animal shows up, how often, and at which times. The deer is a creature of habit unless compelled to change.
#9 Previous Signs of Deer Rubs
The most obvious sign that there is a buck in the area is rubbing on trees. In late September, bucks begin rubbing as a means of preparation for the rut season. This aids in easing mating aggression as well as setting up the animal’s territory. Bucks make rubbings on trees on their way to and from bedding and feeding areas, which will give you a good idea of where these locations are. Keep in mind, though, that during rut season they will move in a wider range to search for a doe.
#10 Visualize Funnels
No matter where you choose to hunt, deer will find areas they traverse more simply due to the surroundings. The natural layout will lead to natural funnels. While you can eyeball an area and get a feel for these funnels, you may want to look at a map to view the topography, especially in a new hunting area.
#11 When to Occupy Your Tree Stand
The most important thing about getting into your deer stand is to not scare the deer away as you do it. Therefore, keeping in mind which times the deer move in your hunting area can aid you significantly. Deer tend to move about in the morning and afternoon, though, leading most hunters to choose to be in their tree stand waiting before dawn.
#12 Selecting Your Sweet Spot
Putting all of these variables together will aid you in finding your ideal location for your tree stand. Don’t be afraid to move and adapt should the situation require it. Using deer patterns to tailor your hunting tactics is a sure way to enjoy success.