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Tree Stand Placement
Tree Stand locations
Finding the perfect spot
Deer hunters have an obsession with finding the perfect location for their stand. Well you may find a great stand location where bucks are cursing by this week but never see another deer all season. Deer are constantly moving so you need strategies that allow you to ambush deer from different locations but there are several things you want to consider to help narrow your possibilities. Different locations call for different strategies, also you want to consider wind, sun, cover, tree size, visibility, and shot angles. If you plan to hunt a stand more than once you also want to think about entry and exit strategies.
There are different phases of each hunting season so chances are you'll need several stand locations. As the rut goes trough the different phases bucks move from one cover to another looking for the next hot doe. You want to play the odds of taking a trophy by moving as well. Then there is always those spots that are risky to hunt, you're sticking out or the wind is wrong, so when should we give this spot a try? Here's the things we've found to work year after year.
Number one thing to consider is always the wind but you also want the sun in the deers eyes not yours. Find a good spot that you can hunt all day and be comfortable. Mornings are usually cooler and as the day heats up deer tend to lay until almost dark before the rut kicks in. We usually review aerial photos before even considering our stand locations but it's good to have them in several types of cover. Let's begin with how to hunt each type cover.
Elevated Hardwood Ridges
Elevated hardwood ridges within 30-40 yards of an Ag field are a great spot to locate bucks. They like to work these ridges for a better view of the fields and they can use their sense of smell to wind the deer entering the fields. These ridges act as staging areas for does entering and exiting into the fields. You may want to consider hunting these areas early, higher elevations tend to be cooler so rut usually starts higher and works it's way down. Once you see rut activities at these elevations it's only a few days til they be doing the same in the bottoms. Hang your deer stand at one end of the ridge where you can access it with the prevailing wind coming in from the W-NW as fronts tend come from there in the fall.
Hunting creeks or swamp bottoms
These are where you'll find some great natural hidden trails for bucks to travel while on the prowl. Does like to bed along creeks or ware holes in the cool tall grass where they can stay hidden. Find a pinch point or shallow crossing along a bend but pick a location where you can see as far as possible. Remember to watch for wind direction and where the sun is before hunting this type stand. Deer stands in these bottoms are very productive once the pre-rut starts until late post-rut.
Deer tracks are easy to spot in a mud puddle
Deer hunting flat timber
When deer hunting flat timber such as planted pines, locating deer is more difficult. What I've found to be the best way to hunt these spots is to find thickets or heavy cover between rows. Does like to feed these browse areas or open rows where they exist. Low advantage to this type stand is there's very little wind and the pine needle mat allows you to slip in unnoticed. Look for places where the ground looks matted for deer trails there are usually several in an area. The best way to find what's using these trails is to clean several small circles that look like a small deer scrape. Use a branch so you don't leave human scent, now pour some water from a small bucket into each scrape. This allows you to see deer tracks so you know which trails they are using.
Risky stands for desperate hunts
What I like to call a risky stand is usually a place where you're going to stick out but nobody's ever sat before. A good example was a stand we placed on a deer trail thru a swamp crossing. This area only had one tree that you can get over 8ft in the air, and it was quite small. This stand was overlooking a dried up water hole in the swamp, we put in in August nobody ever went back until the last P.M we was hunting.Well this leads to a pretty good story.
Dewey went in there around 2:30pm then sat without moving or making any sound. About a half hour before it's too dark to see, he hears a doe blowing. He thought he was busted but it turned out to be a bobcat spooking the doe. Well the bobcat went thru and looked straight up at Dewey, he's thinking great I'm not going to see anything now. Instead here comes that doe around the corner, slowly walks his direction and starts stomping it's foot. He thinks that's it just sit still and maybe he can get out without spooking any deer.
The tree he's in is swaying, the doe staring at him, to his surprise a buck had been following this doe in. The big problem now is he already had lower his gun, the doe is directly below him and the buck is looking at the doe stomping. Instead of moving quickly and spooking the whole woods he slowly raised his gun and pulled off a nice shot right at dusk.
Don't be afraid to try a risky stand placement if you're only going to hunt it one time late season. I'm sure that if you spook a deer here in Jan., next Oct. things will be settled down back to normal. Below is a pic of the deer taken the last day of season.