When deciding where to hang treestands, what is the most important thing to look for? The area with the most sign? Where you have observed the highest volume of deer traffic? The densest cover you can find?
All of these are possibly good spots, assuming they also feature the most important element of all-undetected access.
The route to and from a stand is one of the most overlooked aspects in most hunters’ setups. Scouting is generally dedicated to finding the ‘hot spots’ in a hunting area, and the access route is considered only after the stand is hung. This approach is precisely backward when the goal is to kill mature bucks.
To identify potential stand sites, we must first find the areas we can enter without alerting the entire herd. This is harder than it sounds, but vital. Sometimes we have to get pretty creative, giving bedding and feeding areas a wide berth and using terrain features to screen our movements.
Another great way to keep deer unaware is to camoflauge our movements by mimicing human behavior that the deer have become accustomed to over time, be it farming operations, gas and oil well activity, or any other disturbance that the deer will not consider to be out of the ordinary. Sometimes, the best way to a stand is to have someone drive you to it, if the deer are used to vehicles in that area.
The access-first approach will inevitably exclude some of the areas that at first glance appear to be great hunting spots. These include some locations close to bedding areas and food sources. Oftentimes there is simply no way to approach a stand in these areas undetected, and you should not hunt them. The temptation is great to hunt them anyway, but the damage to the whole area is devestating.
A good alternative is to hunt between these areas. A stand between bedding areas or between bedding and feeding is often easier to access than one where the deer congregate. And where a spot like this with a wind advantage does not exist, many times one can be made with a food plot or hinge cuts.
Stategic placement of food sources and bedding areas can be one of the most effective tools in the hunter’s arsenal, allowing him to direct deer movement to the areas where he has a wind advantage and can hunt again and again without being detected.
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