This time of year many deer hunters will take to the woods to set up the stands they will be using this fall. By getting your stands in early you can rest assured that the deer will be well acclimated to them by the fall and you also don’t run the risk of bumping deer out of the area like you may if you tried setting stands close to the season.
Another advantage to setting stands this time of year is that the first hand experiences you had last fall are still fresh in your mind as are those bits of information you learned when you took advantage of the lack of foliage and did some winter scouting. By combining your fall experiences and your winter scouting you’ve probably got a few good stand sites in mind and are ready to get started towards success during this years hunting season.
Before we head out into the woods and start hanging stands though, lets take a few minutes to refresh our memory on some of the sign we’ll be setting up on and make sure our strategy is sound. To do this we’ll discuss a few key points about three of the areas people are likely to hang stands: well used runs, funnels and pinch’s and rub lines. Only after consideration of all of this can we figure out best stand sites.
Well used runs: Every deer hunter loves to find that ‘cattle trail’ run that has been stamped into the earth through years of heavy deer usage. Most of your well used runs are going to be frequented mainly by does and fawns through most of the hunting season and will run from bedding to food, or vice versa. While you may catch a nice buck using a run like this from time to time, especially during the rut if he’s following a doe, most of the traffic will be does, fawns and young bucks. Try looking for a faint trail paralleling the main trail if you want to focus on more buck usage.
When setting up on a well used run be sure that you know which direction leads to cover and which leads to food. Obviously that will tell you which direction of travel you can expect in the morning versus the evening. Take a look at your access options and decide if your access works better for morning or evening hunts (don’t forget to think about how you will exit the stand as well) and then select a wind that works with that time of day as well.
Another thought to consider is the location of the sun and which side of the trail you hang your stand on. Ideally you would like to have the sun in the deer’s eyes when it try’s to look up at you rather than in your eyes as you try to make a shot.
Consider all those options and if you can get most of them to work out in your favor you can get that well used trail to lead right to your freezer come fall.
Funnels and Pinch’s: A funnel or a pinch can be a slam dunk, ‘old reliable’ type of stand and is the first type of location I look for when scouting. Over the years I have learned that funnels can be so obvious they may as well smack you in face when you first see them or so subtle that it’s only after watching several deer use it do you actually realize what is happening. Regardless of how obvious a funnel may, or may not, be what’s important is that once you find one you get yourself set up properly to take advantage.
The beauty of a funnel is that it will almost always create a ‘void’, an area that the deer are very unlikely to use. That means that if you can access and exit the stand via that void and cast your wind into that void you will have a lot of action with little risk of getting busted. If you’ve found a good funnel make sure you locate the void, it’s the key to your stand location.
Just like we talked about when discussing trails, try to figure out what makes the deer move through a funnel area and what kind of deer are going to use a funnel area. Some may be as simple as a pinch point between food and bedding through which several does and fawns will move, others may be a strip of cover between bedding areas that cruising bucks will use during the pre-rut and rut. Determining who will be moving through will ultimately determine your stand location and strategy.
We have a great cruising buck funnel on our property and through experience I’ve learned that it is a much better morning stand and that bucks are quite responsive to calling in this area. I’ve set my stand for access/exit through the void and only hunt when the wind is right. If you have a cruising buck funnel that information may be something to keep in mind as you set your stand.
Rub Lines: Is there anything more exciting as a hunter than finding a nice big rub? How about finding a whole group of nice big rubs!! That excitement can be even greater if that rub line is on that has been used for a few years straight. Knowing that a buck is in the area can lead to some exciting hunts and, if your stand is set up right, some great results.
Remember that the direction the rub is facing shows the direction the buck is traveling along the line. If the rubs are all on the west side of the tree’s than the buck is likely coming from the west and heading east. With that in mind take a stroll along the run and try to determine where he is coming from and going to. This will give you an idea when he is likely to be on the trail and you can use that information to decide on things like wind direction, access, etc.
Often times rub lines are made prior to the rut kicking in when the buck is still on a somewhat regular pattern. Once the rut kicks in he may abandon his ‘same old routine’ and begin searching for does. If you find a good rub line from last year (or if you find one shortly before season begins this year) plan on hunting it early in the season. As we all know, bucks don’t like intrusion so get your access and exit figured out first and then work off of that in terms of what time of day will work best (morning hunts or afternoon hunts).
Another thing to remember is that your stand doesn’t have to be right over top of the rubs. If you find where his destination is don’t be afraid to move away from the sign and get down the trail a bit if it allows you a safer stand location. For instance if you’re going to hunt a buck in the evening and he is getting out of his bed, making some rubs near his bedding and then moving towards food you may not want to set up right on the sign and on his bed. Move down the run and catch him as he’s closer to the food source. Being right on top of the sign won’t do you any good if you bump him out on the way in or he winds you from out of range. Taking the time to figure out the from where/to where portion can really open your eyes in terms of your stand location.
Hopefully by keeping those few quick tips in mind you will be able to set some nice new spots or improve on a few you already have. Tweaking an existing stand just a slight bit may be just what it needed to become a dynamite spot.
Fall may seem a long ways off right now but it will be here before we know it. This time of year the deer are pretty forgiving of intrusion so take advantage of that and get those stands set now. That way when fall rolls around the only thing you’ll have to worry about is which great spot you’ll go to first!!
Take care, and thanks for reading.