Some hunters hang a couple of treestands around the edges of a field or over a watering hole and call it good. Then, some find themselves scratching their heads after the first week or two of the season. Here's a plan that puts treestands in high-percentage locations for each phase of the deer hunting season.
Early-Season Tree Stand Locations
For the first week or two of the season, stay out of the timber and hunt the field edges in the afternoon. The name of the game during the early season is concealment. You don’t want to tip your hand before all the cards are dealt, so a treestand that is easy to access and in favor of the prevailing late summer winds will still give you a great shot to kill an early season buck, but keep your presence to a minimum.
“Early season, opening day, I’ll set up for a South wind on a field edge,” said Pete Alfano, Whitetail Properties co-founder. “Nine out of ten times within that first week, you’ll see a good buck.”
Rut Tree Stand Locations
Since it’s harder to pattern bucks during the rut, you need to hang stands in high-traffic areas between feeding and bedding areas. This is usually where multiple trails pour into a pinch point or funnel. Look for places where ridges intersect with areas of cover so thick there are only one or two places a deer can travel through them. The same tactic goes for fingers or draws connecting blocks of timber. When bucks are prowling for does, where they enter openings or corridors is often unpredictable, so be sure you have a clear shooting lane to each trail your stand overlooks.
“My number one hunting spot or location during the rut are pinches and funnels,” said Iowa Land Specialist Gabe Adair. “This is the time of year where it’s not just a morning or evening sit for a couple hours. This is the time of year the bucks are up on their feet, moving all day and you’re in for an all-day sit. Catch those deer in transition, moving from bedding to bedding areas or bedding to feeding areas.”
Late-Season Tree Stand Locations
If there was a hall-of-fame for Iowa’s late muzzleloader season, Land Specialist Rich Baugh would be in it. He prefers an elevated hunting blind on the downwind edge of a hot food plot.
“In Iowa, the winters can be brutal,” said Baugh. “It’s much more comfortable in an enclosed blind. It’s also common to have large numbers of deer in and around food plots, and it’s much easier to avoid detection if you are in a blind that holds your scent in and conceals movement.”
Whether you are hunting a field from a tree stand on the edge or a blind out in the middle of a food plot during the late season, the most important thing to be aware of is wind direction. Hang enough stands around the area to give you options to hunt under various wind directions. Never let your scent blow into a deer’s bedding area this time of year.
While there are certainly exceptions to every rule, this is what the Whitetail Properties team looks for when choosing the proper stand location from early season to late season. Get your stands set up early, put in the extra time necessary to prepare your stand for safety, shooting lanes and stealth, and try to hang enough so you have the best odds of seeing deer throughout the entire season.