No other technique for bowhunting whitetail deer can enhance your efforts to evade a deer’s incredible sense of sight, smell and hearing than hunting from a tree stand. With everything being equal, a well placed tree stand will out perform a well placed ground blind any day of the week. The following are 10 tree stand success tips that will help you take your trophy whitetail deer hunting to the next level:
Tip Number 1 – Find the Best Location First, and Then Make That Location Work
I have often said that bowhunting whitetail deer is a game of inches, not feet or yards. Even one inch can sometimes make the difference between success and failure. With this in mind, always search for the absolute best location that will allow you a chance at that trophy buck. Then find a tree that works best with that location. If you have two trees that are five feet apart and one is in the ideal location but maybe not as nice to hunt out of as the other tree… pick the one in the ideal location (as long as it is safe) to place your stand.
Tip Number 2 – Have Enough Tree Stands to Cover Wind Direction
Many hunters make the huge mistake of not worrying about wind direction when they climb into their tree stand. That stand may have been successful for them or another hunter in the past and they hunt it almost exclusively no matter what the conditions are. A stand is only in the ideal location when the wind direction for that location is ideal. The jig is up, possibly forever; if that trophy buck you are after catches your scent and sees you in your favorite tree stand.
Tip Number 3 – Don’t Place the Tree Stand Too High or Too Low
Take all the variables of your hunting stand location into consideration when choosing your stand height. In a nutshell, don’t hunt so low that they will either see or smell you and don’t hunt so high that you have limited your target location because of the very steep shooting angle. An example of a variable to consider is always keep in mind the location of where the buck will be coming from. You may be 15 feet off the ground in your tree but if he will be coming over a hill close to your location, 15 feet may not be high enough.
Tip Number 4 – Clear All Your Shooting Lanes
Each and every year make sure you prune your shooting lanes. As mentioned above, bowhunting is a game of inches and this is an example where the inches part comes into play. One inch higher and your arrow will find its target, one inch lower and it hits that wayward branch you didn’t prune and you miss the animal entirely or, worse yet, wound the animal.
Tip Number 5 – Do Not Get Discovered Entering or Leaving Your Tree Stand
Take extra precautions to make sure you are not discovered entering or leaving your tree stand. This was one of the first things I had to teach my boys when they started hunting whitetails with me. They would walk in and walk out like a herd of elephants. They slammed the car door, clomped their feet when they walked, and chit chatted way too much. Obviously, they were young and just starting to hunt (these habits were easily corrected) but I have seen many adults make the same mistakes as well.
Tip Number 6 – Don’t Hunt Someone Else’s Tree Stand Without Permission
This one should be a no brainer but it has happened to me so many times that it is worth mentioning. Nothing is more infuriating when the conditions are absolutely ideal for the tree stand you want to hunt and you have done everything right to get to your stand location and some idiot is already sitting up there. Not only is it rude and obnoxious but it could cost you permission to hunt in that area.
Tip Number 7 – Make Sure Your Tree Stand is Safe
In construction, it is an OSHA rule that you must be tied off if you are six or more feet about the ground. I would recommend you follow this same rule when hunting from a tree stand. Make sure you are tied off with an approved hunting safety harness system and in a tree strong enough to support your weight. If you hunt from a permanent stand, make sure you inspect it each year to see that materials have not rotted or that its connections to the tree are still secure.
Tip Number 8 – Pre-determine Your Shooting Distances
There are some extremely good range finders available on the market today. Some even measure your shooting angle from your tree stand. Do not make the mistake of waiting until that trophy buck you are after comes into view to determine the correct shooting yardage. It is hard enough getting your bow ready without messing around with that. If you have a range finder, use it to find locations of various objects in the areas that will be shooting locations. If you don’t, then utilize a tape measurer to do the same when placing your stand. Use natural objects to mark these locations in lieu of highly visible marking tape that may spook deer. Place a small log on the ground or push a stick into the ground to mark these locations.
Tip Number 9 – Utilize Funnels to Find Ideal Locations to Place Your Tree Stand
A funnel is any naturally occurring topographical feature that naturally funnels deer through a certain area. It can be in the form of saddles, bottlenecks, ridges, gullies, benches, etc. It is critical that you identify these features in your hunting area as these locations will provide more predictable areas of deer movement to establish your shooting lanes.
Tip Number 10 – Utilize Natural Cover to Keep Yourself Concealed
If at all possible try to find a tree stand location that has natural cover behind your location from the deer’s viewpoint. A single tree with you sticking out the side of it is not an ideal situation. They definitely will know something is not right. If at all possible, make yourself blend in with the natural cover behind you.
On one hand, hunting from a tree stand can be quite challenging and time consuming to perform properly. On the other, the advantages it provides over hunting from the ground make it all worth it.
Copyright (c) 2011 Todd Jensen