A Wind Friendly Stand - Critical To Bow Hunting Success

By Joe Bucher - October 1, 2009
The task of actually picking a stand site can be one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of a hunt. When a stand is "right", you're surely going to get some action. When it is "wrong", you'll likely be staring at a lot of trees, but few if any deer. Countless outings perched in treestands over promising spots has taught me many lessons both good and bad. Here's a sampling of what I've learned that should help you pick a good stand site this season.

Spend lots of time scouting the immediate area during the preseason before actually commiting yourself to hunt at any location. Make certain there is obvious old and current deer sign. The term "deer sign" basically asks this question -- are there tracks, droppings, rubs, scrapes, trails or any other sign that indicates deer are frequenting this area in the past or at the present time? If the answer is yes, then the next question should be -- is there any tree in this immediate area that allows me to take advantage of this sign without being winded or sighted by the deer? If you can answer yes to this question, it is now time to consider putting up a stand in this location.

Once you've picked a likely tree, stand next to it and slowly scan the area around you for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Move around the trunk of the tree in quarters and recheck what you see. If you have a partner with you on this stand recon, have he or she walk up and down various nearby deer trails staying inside 50 yards or so. Also, have them walk around the tree slowly so you can observe how a deer is likely to slip by. Then, reverse the process and have your partner stand alongside that tree trunk while you scout both the sign and the tree location. Try to imagine how a deer would approach this tree as you move around in this observation mode.

Finally, look up at the tree itself and imagine where a stand will fit best on the tree trunk. Also, consider the actual placement of the stand against where you think the deer are most likely to come from.

Ask these questions as you look up at the possible stand placement:

  1. Is the tree trunk straight? If it is a "leaner", this isolates where the stand can be hung safely on the tree.
  2. Does the trunk or nearby branches offer screening cover? If not, you may stick out like a sore thumb.
  3. Will the stand rest safely and comfortably against the tree in this location? Some tree trunks are so irregular that many conventional stands simply won't hang firmly on them.
  4. Can I stand up and draw my bow from this site without alerting nearby approaching deer? Being concealed during the draw is critical.
  5. How far up do I need to hang the stand on this tree in order to remain concealed? Stand height effects shot angle. Lower set ups offer the best and most lethal shot angles. Steeper, high set ups keep your scent and movement concealed better, but create more challenging shot lethality.

Here's a few other things to consider before committing to hanging a new stand. The earlier you can get this stand hung - before season - the more likely it will produce. The later (in the season) you wait to hang, the more you run the risk of spooking deer from this location. What I mean here is this: human presence in the form of talking, walking, the metal clanging that occurs when you are trying to assemble tree steps, ladders, or stands and/or your residual scent left over from your scouting recon are all apt to have a negative effect on deer movement at that location.

If you are forced to scout and hang at a location during the actual season, don't attempt it unless there is a strong wind blowing or it is actually raining. Both wind and rain will disguise your intrustion. The closer you are to an actual bedding area, the more important this aspect becomes. Do not walk around the stand and overscout the stand perimeter at all during season. Only do this on a preseason foray. Also, wear high top rubber boots for all in-season hang jobs, and spray a scent killer around everything before leaving when the job is done. Try to "get in and get out" quickly on any in-season hang job.

Lastly, always make sure you consider how you're going to get in and out of any stand before committing to it, as well. No matter how good a stand site looks initially, if you can't get into and out of it without spooking deer, it's probably not going to be that productive overall. In fact, I would have to say that the biggest downfall or weakness in any stand selection is the exit and entry route. If you constantly bump deer going in or out, you are sure to ruin the stand site in no time. If you can slip in and out with seeing flags (tails of running spooked deer), you're in the money.

Oh, and one more thing -- make sure you take along an extendable branch trimmer and a set of clippers on your first hunt. Get into your stand early on the first sit, if it's an afternoon hunt, so you can carefully yet quietly trim out a few shooting lanes. If it is a morning hunt, make sure you trim the shooting lanes before you leave from that first morning hunt. If wind noise exists, quietly and stealthfully trim a couple of trouble spots right away as soon as you have first light. When finished, hang the pole trimmer up in the tree alongside you somewhere while you hunt that first outing, and then take it with you when you leave. This final trimming task is vital and may make the difference between just seeing a deer in range, and actually getting off a good shot.

Author Joe Bucher
Joe Bucher
Joe Bucher is one of the most highly regarded multispecies fishing and hunting authorities in the outdoor business trade. He has been an on-camera talent for 22 years. For more info on Joe you can view his website at www.joebucher.com.