Setting up on the right spot and choosing the right tree to hang your stand is one of the most crucial ingredients for hunting success.
Here are a few tips on what makes the perfect tree for your stand.
Exit and entry routes
How many hunters consider the importance of carefully choosing an entry and exit route to and from the stand? Unfortunately not too many. Many good hot-spots have been ruined before the hunter arrived on the stand because the access route has not been carefully chosen. Choosing a good access/departure route not only takes the prevailing winds and thermals under considerations but also deer movement patterns.
When choosing entry and exit routes I look at aerial maps. These maps are great for finding ways to and from stands that do not intersect possible deer holding areas and travel patterns. Quite often I find that I have to make D-tours to get to my stand as to not contaminate the area where I think deer will travel to and from a feeding area. Pay attention to entry and exit routes and you are less likely to alert deer to your presence or contaminate deer travel routes.
Wind and thermals
The wind is not your friend, the wind your enemy. That is how I look at winds and thermals. I need to get them figured out in order to make it work to my advantage. When I talk or write about the importance of wind and thermals invariably there will some hunters saying something like; “I wear scent control clothing.” If you’re one of them let me tell you a little truth about scent control clothing. It doesn’t matter. Deer will detect your scent and it doesn’t matter if they get a nose full or just a faint whiff of human scent to draw their own conclusions.
Because of that it is very important to be constantly aware of wind directions and the movement of thermals when you walk to and from your stand and of course during the entire time you’re in the stand. Because of that I often set up two stands, one for each wind direction. Always keep the wind and thermals in mind when hunting.
I am sure you’re aware of the endless discussions held about treestand height. There are still hunters believing in the higher is better mantra. Not true! The height of the treestand is dictated by cover. If you hang a stand higher than the available cover deer will see you. I once entered a public land area and immediately spotted a treestand about 40 feet up a tree. The reason I spotted that stand was because it was placed above the surrounding foliage, I am sure every deer in the area has seen that stand too. Never place a stand in such a way that you’re sky lighted. Always use the surrounding foliage above, behind and to either side as cover to hide from the deer. If that is at 8 or 10 feet off the ground then that is the height your stand should be and not higher. In all my years of hunting almost exclusively from treestands I found that there is never a need to climb higher than 12 to 15 feet off the ground, often even lower. There is another issue arising when going high into a tree. Shooting angles become very steep and that creates another set of challenges that I have discussed in previous articles.
Less is more
Be careful with trimming shooting lanes and don't trim to much. When cutting branches for my shooting lanes I never cut off more than I absolutely need. I keep my shooting lanes as small as I possibly, without sacrificing shooting opportunities (see image for what I consider a perfectly concealed treestand). Some hunters trim every branch below them and to their sides, believing that wearing camouflage will be enough to disguise their outline. While that is true as long as you sit motionless it changes when you move. You have to disguise necessary movement to draw the bow or shoulder the rifle. Leaving enough branches around the stand hanging will go a long way to enhance your cover and conceal movement.
I hope that these tips will assist you in finding the perfect tree to hunt from versus the perfect tree to make for an easy stand set up. As a final note: Please always remember treestand safety. Regardless of what your hunting ambitions are, your main ambition should always be to return home to your family in one piece.