How to place a deer stand as a topic of conversation can produce as many opinions as watching a presidential debate. The intricacies of where and how one hunts is open to interpretation and varies from location to location.
With that in mind, though, here are some tips that can help you ensure that the location you chose will increase the odds of seeing the deer you are after.
#1. Determine the best height.
One of the hottest debated topics is “how high do I need to be?” There are too many variables from terrain to cover to accurately place a magic number on the height of a deer stand. Sitting higher off the ground in some places may make you more visible. But getting off the ground at a respectable height can give you an advantage when it comes to a deer’s sense of smell. The main thing, regardless of height, is to make certain you have background cover to break your outline and to make sure you can get a good clean shot. Use those variables to determine your height, along with a commitment to safety and common sense. Keep in mind the effective range of your weapon. If you bowhunt, the higher you go, the smaller the vital area of a deer becomes.
#2. Find the deer before the tree.
Hunt perfect deer, not perfect trees. Find the deer first by scouting for trails, droppings, buck rubs, feeding locations, bedding areas and other deer signs, then find an adequate tree within easy shooting range that will put you in a good location relative to the wind.
#3. Stay downwind.
You can depend on wind direction as much as you can the weatherman. The idea, though, is to stay downwind to avoid getting sniffed out. The deer's nose is your biggest obstacle, so take steps to eliminate human odors. Never hunt a stand because it’s convenient.
#4. Pick the right route.
If the wind is not right, avoid it like the plague. Choose the right route in. If you spook deer while coming or going, your efforts could be in vain. While scouting also plan the best approach and exit, according to prevailing winds.
#5. Set up near ambush locations.
Look for ambush locations, those natural travel corridors that pass through bottlenecks, funnels or along fence lines to hunt. Don’t set up in the middle of them, get to the edge, in range of your weapon, but not so close that you will change the habits of the deer.
#6. Move where the deer are.
Adapt to deer movement, which means you have to be mobile. There are countless reasons deer avoid an area or change travel patterns. Hunting the same stand every day hoping they will come closer is often a failing odds game. A smart hunter moves to where the deer are moving and adapts.
#7. Practice your movements.
When you find the right place from the ground and get your stand set, part of that preparation should include practicing your movements. Stand up and sit down, paying attention to any squeaks. Think strategically about shots, making sure limbs aren’t in the way of your bow or scope. Trim if you have to, but keep that to a minimum.
#8. Move during the day.
If you do move and have to set up a new stand, do it in the middle of the day when deer are resting and not in the morning or late afternoon when deer are on the move. Always be aware of your scent and noise if the season is under way.
#9. Get there early.
Mature bucks often prefer to be off food sources and headed to bed well before daylight. If that type buck is what you are after, be on stand and ready to go at least an hour before shooting light. The extra time allows you to stow your gear, get ready and for the environment around you to settle down.
#10. Hunt close to feeding areas at night.
Whitetails are nocturnal and often spend their nights feeding. For that reason, try to avoid setting up too close to a feeding area if you plan on primarily hunting in the morning. Feeding areas are great for evening hunts, in between those feeding areas and bedding areas are better in the morning.
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