© By Othmar Vohringer
I did all my preliminary scouting after the hunting season closed last year and fine tune it in the spring into early summer. With that said, I already know where to hang my treestands or build natural ground blinds. I am often asked. What are the factors of a perfect stand location?
Hunting deer with a firearm I can set up stands almost anywhere within the radius of active deer movement, provided I have clear shooting lanes. Where attention to detail in stand location and placement can break or make your hunting is during bowhunting season. In order to get close to deer and stay undetected we have to be very aware of every little detail in choosing stand locations and setting up stands. As often is the case the devil is in the details.
These are the factors that I consider imperative for a successful stand setup.
I am continually surprised how many hunters head to the woods a few weeks before deer season opens and hang a stand at the first tree next to a trail with fresh tracks. Doing this you jeopardize any hunting success and have to rely entirely on luck to fill your tag. A wise hunter once said; hunting success is the result of 80 percent scouting and 20 percent luck. If you do not scout, or scout incorrectly, your success is dependent entirely on luck. Over the years I wrote several magazine articles dedicated to scouting. I encourage you to read the linked articles below and apply the advice.
Scouting For Hunting Success
Mapping Out Deer Hunting Success
Enter and Exit Routes:
The best stand location is rendered useless if you can’t access or depart the location without alerting deer in the vicinity. And before you say “I don’t have to worry about deer detecting because I wear scent eliminating hunting garments and boots”. Let me tell you that deer WILL detect you coming or going if your bath to or from the stand crosses deer holding areas. Deer are perfectly attuned to everything that goes on around them. The best way to avoid letting deer on to your presence is choose entry and exit routes carefully. Depending on the stand location you may have to choose a different exit route from the one you enter the stand. Proper scouting will reveal what exit and access routes you have to choose.
Treestand Height and Cover:
A lot has been written and said about how high a treestand should be placed on a tree. There is still a considerable number of hunters believing that the higher you can go the better. This simply is not true. I told that story bevor but it is worth repeating. A few years ago on my walk to one of my stands I spotted a large black spot about 50 feet off the ground on a pine tree trunk from a distance of about 400 yards. Using by binoculars the large black spot turned out to be a hunter in a treestand. If I could see that dark spot high up on a tree trunk then so could the deer. It is a myth that hunting from a stand placed high up on a tree will prevent deer from smelling you. I covered that myth and other treestand placement mistakes in, “The most common mistakes when setting up treestands".
The height of the treestand is determined by the cover around you. As a bowhunter it is important to stay in cover as much as possible, to achieve that we have to make use of the natural cover around us. When I have chosen a tree for my stand I will check from the distance where I expect deer to approach my stand location at what height off the ground the best cover is available. By looking up the tree I can see where the background cover is to my satisfaction and that is the height were my stand will be placed, be that 8 feet or 20 feet off the ground. Neglect cover in placing your stand and you will be detected by deer. Treestands have given hunters, especially bowhunters, a huge advantage. The downside of treestands is that this popular hunting method has educated deer to look up to the treetops for danger.
Wind is a constant consideration of mine in placing a treestand. I place stands in such a way that the prevailing wind carries my scent into an open space not frequented by deer or backed up against steep ravine, river, lake or other obstruction that deer avoid or can’t cross without passing by my stand first before they get a whiff of me.
As important as all the above is, you need shooting lanes. This can be a bit tricky at times. The trick is to cut enough shooting lanes that get at least two or three clear lanes to shoot at deer from every direction you expect deer to travel past your stand. You want to be very mindful of not overcutting shooting lanes to the point that you lose cover. Here it pays to know the trajectory of your arrows as they make their way to the target. Diligent target practice at different distances will make you familiar with your arrows fight path. Typically I trim shooting lanes at the very least a month or even two before hunting season opens.
Silence is Golden:
If you do everything right it will be no good if your stand pops and creaks every time you move. Silence is golden. To keep a stand quiet use a quality product and maintain it regularly. After each hunting season I check my stands for worn parts and lube all moving parts like platform and seat hinges with unscented lubricant paste. In addition I cover the treestand bow-holder with moleskin to prevent metal to metal sounds.
And finally, never underestimate comfort. An uncomfortable treestand, no matter how well it is placed, will end in misery. More than anything else uncomfortable tresstands are the result why hunters leave to early. You can improve the level of comfort by adding an extra cushion on the seat and as a backrest onto the tree trunk. Additional measures to improve comfort are cutting off and branch knots on the tree trunk to avoid being pocked in the back and adding a foot rest to standing platform. In short take whatever steps that is necessary to accommodate your level of comfort for many hours of sitting still.
In addition the tips provided here I would like to direct your attention to two articles relating to the topic covered here.
Choosing the right treestand for the perfect ambush
Treestand hunting essentials