With August passing quickly and September now right around the corner it's time to get those last minute stands set up and finish any prep work on your stands still up from last year. Ideally all your stands are already up, trimmed and ready to go but I know I'm not the only one who's failed to get everything on the "to do" list done just yet.
We still have a few things to do with our stands for the year and over the last week or two I have really been spending some time thinking about our overall stand status. I'm one of those hunters that is always trying to think of a better stand spot or a way to improve the spots we already have. I'm constantly assessing our stands and coming up with reasons that they are good or bad and ways that we could make them just a bit better. My brother-in-law and I are always going back and forth about deer stand placement and trying to convince each other of why we feel the way we do about them.
This stand overlooking a small kill plot sets up absolutely perfect for an East wind.
I haven't been able to get up to the property for about a month now so instead of looking at our stands in person I've been spending some time assessing our stands from afar . This long distance evaluation obviously can't take care of things like trimming out our established stands or hanging new stands but it's still been a pretty informative evaluation none the less.
The first thing I did was create an excel spreadsheet listing off all of our existing stands. I then listed all the winds directions (N, NW, W, etc) and next to the wind direction I listed all the stands that would be hunt-able with that wind. Having all that information laid out in front of you really helps you to see what options you have available to you and also points out some soft spots in your setup. There are almost always two of us hunting on our place at the same time so ideally we would like to have at least 3 or 4 options for every wind to try and keep from over hunting stands if possible. By making a list like this you can quickly see which winds you are a bit weak on.
Another benefit to making a list like this is that as I made it I found myself really thinking about the stand setups and I even changed my mind on a few of them after some thinking. Sometimes those year after year stands sort of get over looked and you just hunt them the way you always have. Taking a fresh look at them now and then, especially as terrain or habitat changes, can be really beneficial. Our property has undergone a lot of changes in the last 3 years thanks to some improved agricultural practices around us. These changes have turned old hayfields into deer magnets and old pastures into canola and cornfields. Obviously changes like this will have an impact on the way the deer move through the area and with those changes in deer movement you may need to re-evaluate your stands and possibly adjust your strategy.
After using an aerial map to find a point where two valley's came together the low hanging branches of this pine tree make for a nice ground blind site.
Once you realize that some changes are in order the aerial map becomes your new best friend. I like to save a copy on the computer and use an editing program to mark existing stands, deer trails, food sources, bedding area's, access trails, etc. Once you get the map all marked up it will lay out in front of you like a road map of your deer woods. With that information in front of you, combined with your personal knowledge of your property, you can really narrow down what areas that you want to get a stand into. The final decision on what specific tree you'll set up in will have to wait until your able to get out and get in the woods but you can really make the process much easier by doing most of the leg work ahead of time.
It's very rare that a stand turns out to be perfect the first time you set it. Most great stands have evolved and changed a few times over the years before they were put in that perfect spot. It's easy to make the mistake of falling in love with a stand site and not wanting to move it. Most stands are hung because the hunter is confident in that spot and regardless of how the season goes it can be hard to change someones mind.
By taking the time in the off season to assess you stands you may just notice something that could use a little tweaking. The change could be as small as moving to the other side of a trail or as big as setting up in an entirely new area but if it gets that buck within range the following year it will be well worth the effort.
Take care and thanks for reading!!