Statistics show that most deer stands are hottest the first time you hunt them, meaning you have the best chance of taking a nice buck. There is also a good chance you’ll sit the same stand several days in a row, especially during the rut. This is nothing new, but for these times we must prepare to subdue our human presence.
If you’ve treated the area properly - scouted during the summer, hung stands weeks before the season, remained scent free while hunting - deer will go about their natural routine. Here are a few tips we believe will help you succeed in keeping stands fresh throughout the season.
Too Late to Trim (And Hang Stands)
Don’t trim trees and create shooting lanes during the season. This should have been done during the middle of the summer when pressure was minimal on the deer herd. Now, they’re feeling your presence. Think of how much you would blanket an area with your scent no matter if you’re using a chainsaw or a handsaw.
Same goes for hanging stands. If this must be done after the season starts, do it during the middle of the day when deer are less active. Take care to de-scent yourself before walking into the area. The edge of food plots is one of the safest places to hang a late stand as it won’t require you to handle a lot of tree limbs and other vegetation. Nor will you have to plan a route through the woods, though you might consider lathering up in fox urine or stomping around in cow manure before walking in.
Plan Multiple Routes
Have multiple entry and exit routes. We realize that sometimes there’s a limited number of options, especially when hunting in a thick area with small openings, or on your property line. If your neighbor allows you to access his property to approach your stand, great. But if not, then do your best with what you have.
Using different routes to access a stand will also help keep your scent to a minimum and sustain a low-impact area. Go early, leave late.
Part of the equation of keeping deer stands fresh is to have multiple routes to your stand.
Hunt What the Wind Giveth You
This is old news, right? Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that the time will come to hunt a particular stand. It’s easy to make ourselves believe that we can wash and spray away all of the bad scents that spook deer. But this is in no reason to hunt the wrong wind. Plus, if you have stands that traditionally produce during the rut, this is even more of an incentive to leave the area completely alone until bucks start chasing.
Hunt Travel Corridors
Rather than always hunting feeding areas, pick out a few travel corridors where deer aren’t necessarily hanging around, or staging. If the wind is right, your chances of getting busted are reduced significantly as they’re trying to get from point A to point B, bedding area to food source and vice versa. Remain standing as often as possible as because cruising bucks aren’t likely to give you too many opportunities for a shot. You might also keep a grunt call handy.
A constant human presence, whether it be your smell or the sight of you, can alter the habits of your deer herd in a hurry. Limit ATV and other motor-vehicle travel as much as possible, instead walking in from long distances if necessary. We can’t control our neighbors and other unforeseen factors, but the more deer view your property as a sanctuary and feel safe there, the higher your chances of success will be.