Recently, I found myself asking my father this exact question as we scouted a new hunting location I had been eyeing. As we walked the property line with the land owner we discussed potential strategies and corresponding treestand placements. There was a lot of deer sign so there was a lot to discuss. Finally, I decided to gathered more information prior to make my final decision on a treestand location.
Nothing can affect the outcome of a hunt more than treestand placement. This is particularly true if you are hunting with a vertical bow or a crossbow because it is imperative to get in close if you want to down that big buck. So how do you choose a treestand location that will help you close the distance?
First, you need to rely on the information you compiled while scouting. You must know where the deer are bedding, feeding, and traveling in order to choose a location that gives you regular and consistent deer movement. I prefer hunting high traffic areas such as natural funnels in between bedding areas and food sources when I’m chasing that buck of a lifetime.
Second, use trail cameras to help you gather the remaining information you need to determine treestand location. Trail cameras can provide vital information such as recurring arrival times for a deer as well as which direction the animal is entering and leaving your
potential stand location. It may even show you unexpected deer movement or give you insight into the number of deer in the area, all of which could help you bag that monster buck. Reading this data properly can help you pinpoint your stand location but may also convince you to move your treestand to a more advantageous location that provides better cover, visibility, or shot angles.
Don’t be afraid to utilize multiple treestand locations. If you are not getting the desired results out from your chosen treestand location, then be aggressive and move it closer to a bedding area or food source. Ratcheting up pressure by moving closer to bedding areas, particularly for morning hunts, is a tactic that can bring you success when deer movement dwindles. You can even select a location in the bedding area, but beware, bouncing a monster buck out of his primary bedding area could leave you scrambling for the remainder of the season to find your giant’s secondary bedroom.
Positioning treestand locations over food sources can also provide the opportunity to harvest that buck of a lifetime. In the early season when food is abundant this can be more difficult. Whitetails have a diverse appetite and when food is abundant they will often determine their diet at random. As the season progresses and food sources become scarcer, a preferred remaining food source will emerge. Placing your treestand in areas rich with that food source can lead you to mid-late season hotbeds.
Once you have selected you treestand location be sure to provide enough distance between your stand and the trail(s) you are hunting over. You don’t want to set up too close and disrupt the normal environment of a traveling deer. Set up 15 or 20 yards away and look for a tree that provides adequate cover (branches and leaves) that will break up your silhouette. If possible, position yourself on higher terrain and out of the direct sightline for a deer traveling the trail(s) around your location. During the hunt, your movement is much easier for a deer to pick up it you have positioned yourself in their direct line of sight. Try to avoid this at all cost or I promise you will be telling the story about the one that got away.
Finally, pay attention to the prevailing winds and select a treestand location downwindfrom the deer activity. Deer have an amazing sense of smell, which allows them to detect predators and hunters alike from long distances. They lick their nose to keep it damp and trap the odor particles in the air. This enhances their sense of smell. Many hunters have deceived the eyes and ears of a deer only to miss out on their opportunity because of they couldn’t beat its infamous nose.
Treestand location is the most essential decision you will have to make pre-hunt. Being diligent, patient, and paying close attention to detail when selecting your treestand location will help fill your tag each and every season.