Take a New (Deer) Stand for Fall Hunting

If you're like a lot of deer hunters, you probably hunt out of the same stands every season. You might want to re-think things.

Take a New (Deer) Stand for Fall Hunting

If it's been a few years since you've had a shot at a deer, now's the time to change things up. (Shutterstock image)

I had hunted a specific buck throughout bow and muzzleloader seasons, and now it was into general firearms season. A neighbor who lived where he could see me park my pickup said, "If you want to shoot that buck, you’d better park in another spot. That’s right where he walks into the woods.”

Sure enough, I found the buck’s tracks directly beneath the truck. I parked in a different spot, walked in on a different trail and finally took the buck that had eluded me for so long.

Such forehead-slapping mistakes show how complacency leads to defeat. If you have success hunting a specific stand in a certain way one season, odds are you will continue to do the same thing in subsequent seasons. But a four-year-old buck will learn your habits over time, and eventually it’ll require some changes to outmaneuver him.To defeat complacency you must go back to the basics—what do deer eat, where do they bed and how do they move? You must also consider factors that affect a deer’s lifestyle, like hunting pressure and changes in food sources and cover.

Bedding Cover

Many deer will bed right under your nose, not in some distant thicket. If you bait or plant food plots, deer will bed surprisingly close to those primary food sources. A perimeter stroll around a stand site near a plot or feeder often reveals that deer bed where they can see and smell you entering and sitting in your stand. They pattern you just as you are attempting to pattern them. If you do the same thing season after season, it’s not much of a challenge for them to avoid you.


A workable response to this situation is to hunt the same food source, but from a different spot. The location of perimeter deer beds should dictate the ideal placement of a new stand or ground blind that takes into consideration not just where the food source is, but the bedding area, cover and prevailing wind.


Nothing irks a hunter like a major cover change. Late one summer I arrived at a club lease to find the lone pine still standing on the property was the one with my permanent stand nailed to it. The surrounding mature forest had been logged, yet club rules confined me to that spot. Scouting a seven-year-old stand of planted pines 250 yards away revealed that deer were bedding inside. Using a garden tiller, I planted a narrow plot between two rows of trees. Although shots were long, the stand produced deer through the end of season after other club members had stopped seeing activity. Deer felt safe in my pine stand because they could nibble greenery mere steps from their bedding cover.

Tree STANDS
Think outside the stand. A grain wagon parked on a harvested field could be a better setup than a treestand along its edge. (Photo by Mike Marsh)

Food Sources

A friend once showed me three sets of big antlers he had picked up on his deer lease. He said he had never seen bucks like that on that property, so I asked him if there were any soybeans nearby.

"How did you know?" he asked. "They planted soybeans on the farm next door."

Legumes, like soybeans and peanuts, provide topnotch nutrition during June, July and August, when bucks grow their antlers. In some cases these crops might not be harvested until long after the season opens. However, they are often not planted in the same field two years in a row due to crop rotation practices. Hunters must become familiar with where and when crops are grown and harvested on bordering farms because changes in crop distribution can cause a major shift in the habits and location of a local deer population.


Changes in natural food sources can also drive hunters nuts. The annual acorn drop is a classic case of this because deer suddenly disappear from food plots and feeders. I had a stand overlooking a half-acre food plot where deer were visible every day during the September archery season. On the first of October, however, they disappeared. Checking the edges, I discovered deer were bedding, feeding and never moving from a stand of oaks that was dropping acorns.

It was now gun season, so I set up a two-man drive with my son. I jumped seven deer that splashed away through a swamp run, and Justin dropped a doe when she stopped to watch her backtrail.

Tree STANDS
Tree STANDS
While a logging operation on your lease can temporarily disrupt deer activity and patterns (top), it can force you to rethink stands that had perhaps become stale and no longer viable even before the timber was cut. (Photos by Mike Marsh)

High-Traffic Areas

Scouting areas of high human activity can pay off for two reasons: Deer eventually become accustomed to people if they consider them non-threatening, and those people often see the deer and can offer valuable intel. For instance, an old hunter who had sold me a piece of hunting property years before told me that a nice buck was stepping into one of my fields right at dusk. The gentleman still lived across the road from this property, along with his 75 deer hounds.


"I don’t know how, but a nice buck lives in your pond," he said.

This pond, which he had dug 30 years before, was overgrown with cypress and gum trees. Shrugging off his comments as an impossibility, I waded into the pond to retrieve a downed wood duck a few days later and jumped the buck from his bed atop the root ball of a blown-down tree. I quickly set a ladder stand at the edge of the pond and shot the buck with a rifle the next evening. The commotion from the penned hounds was almost unbearable to me during that sit, but it hadn’t bothered the buck one bit.

This season, don’t just do what you’ve always done in the past. Like many hunters, you probably have favorite stands from which you killed nice deer years ago. It’s time to ask your stand sites, "What have you done for me lately?" If the answer is "not much," try something new. Start by looking at your hunting property with fresh eyes, and continue to do so throughout the season as food sources, hunting pressure and the rut change how deer use the habitat.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

What

What's Next for ASA & ICAST?

American Sportfishing Association president talks ICAST, coronavirus and the fishing industry.

Engel

Engel's High Viz Drybox Coolers

Versatile boxes available in four sizes; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Pro angler Cody Meyer calls Daiwa's J-Fluoro Samurai the best fluorocarbon he's ever fished. Meyer spoke with In-Fisherman associate publisher Todd Ceisner as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

Stripping a reel and adding fresh line is a breeze if you know the drill—literally.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes. Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

Innovation, customization, continue to lead the way in fishing-tackle storage. ICAST

ICAST 2020: New Tackle-Management Systems

Game & Fish Staff - July 16, 2020

Innovation, customization, continue to lead the way in fishing-tackle storage.

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Conservation & Politics

NSSF: Moms Demand Action Wants No Cops and No Guns

Game & Fish Staff - July 17, 2020

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Take advantage of the second rut and arrow a great buck to close your season. Whitetail

Bowhunting: Second Rut, Last Chance

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn - December 23, 2019

Take advantage of the second rut and arrow a great buck to close your season.

2018 Arkansas typical whitetail came from waterfowl land and scored 200+ points. Records

Decade's Best: William Lloyd's Record Whitetail

Lynn Burkhead

2018 Arkansas typical whitetail came from waterfowl land and scored 200+ points.

Learn the lingo to improve your odds in the whitetail woods. Whitetail

8 Deer Vocalizations You Must Master

Mike Marsh

Learn the lingo to improve your odds in the whitetail woods.

Boss Buck introduces attractants that are powerful and long-lasting. Whitetail

Apple & Acorn Liquid Attractants for Deer Hunting

Game & Fish Staff - June 10, 2020

Boss Buck introduces attractants that are powerful and long-lasting.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now