FINDING THE RIGHT TREE IS THE STAND HUNTER’S SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT TASK OF THE SEASON. HERE’S HOW TO DO IT RIGHT.
1 CHOOSE A KILLER STAND LOCATION
You can find a buck’s hot sign, But what you really need to pinpoint is the spot where you can kill him. Somewhere along his route is a place where cover or terrain (or both) puts the odds most heavily in your favor. That’s the definition of a good treestand location. For example:
The backbone of a ridge, lip of a ravine, or shoulder of a plateau is a natural funnel. You can shoot the topside and the downslope. Your rattling reverberates. And as long as the wind is pushing steadily past the drop, you’re not getting busted, as your scent will drift over downhill deer.
THE LONG EDGE
Just within woods running alongside a road, open field, lakeshore, or parking lot, a natural travel corridor parallels the edge—and you can slip easily to and from without dropping scent on a buck’s path. What’s more, the road (as shown) discourages bucks from circling downwind.
If you don’t work the land yourself, the farmers who do are an invaluable source of information. Ask them where and when they see big bucks. Meanwhile, start your own routine of checking food sources, even if it’s just for an hour after work every few days.constantly remind yourself not to get too aggressive.
Feeding bucks routinely enter fields at an inside corner, and cruising bucks love to swing around them. Your job is to figure out where the feeding and the swinging trails intersect, and then hang your stand downwind. The best corners also bottleneck a short way off the field.
If you know a buck’s basic bed-to-feed pattern, eyeball an aerial map or satellite image. Is there a place along his general route where two or more ridges, spurs, ditches, wood strips, or fencelines meet? Yes? Set up there. You just doubled, maybe tripled, your odds of seeing him.
2 PICK THE PERFECT TREE
Whenever possible, pick a tree that:
- Is perpendicularly downwind and well off the animals’ direction of travel to avoid their line of sight and to keep passing deer from winding you.
- Is 12 to 20 yards off the best sign for bowhunting. Farther makes for a long shot; shorter makes for a steep angle.
- Is as far from the hottest sign as you can get for gun hunting and still have a high-odds shot, ideally with a long view of the terrain.
- Offers entry and egress that doesn’t spook deer.
- Is wide enough to hide your silhouette but narrow enough that you can get your arms around it for easier climbing and stand hanging.
- Has several branches, forks, or trunks for cover and for hanging equipment.