When our Fall deer seasons arrive many bowhunters use Treestands to get up above the ground and elude the whitetail’s sense of smell and their leery eyes and sharp hearing.
Using a treestand can definitely help you, but it’s not the answer to everything.
Deer hunters will never be able to fool the animal’s sense of survival, but here is some sound advice and a few tricks that can increase your odds.
Trick #1- Camouflage the treestand.
After that perfect treestand is hung find some brush or twigs to help conceal it. Find old dead branches, cut small saplings, or use trimmed material from a cleared shooting lane. Weave it in and out of the platform, and tie brush to the tree. Place limbs and other natural camouflage in nearby branches. Anything that can be added to break up the hunters’ silhouette without interfering with a shot will be a bonus. The leaves on cut branches won’t stay green long, so it’s best to be generous when doing this.
Trick #2- Keep it quiet.
They say the best lessons are born from mistakes and this is one of the best tricks I have! I slowly turned my head to see a slammer buck coming down the trail. While stealthily reaching for my bow, I heard a “SCRAPE” of the bark against my jacket! As the buck immediately bounded away, I kicked myself for not scraping the bark clean.
Removing bark is always a great option when hunting in a shaggy tree, but it isn’t always quiet. Next time, bring a dark, long sleeve t-shirt to tie around the tree trunk, right above the seat. That way, any movement against the tree will be against the soft shirt, and not the rough, noisy bark. Be sure to generously spray the shirt with scent killer such as Ti4 Titanium. Also, wearing a quiet garment that won’t scrape against bark such as a Silent Shell Jacket could help tremendously.
Trick #3- Create a silhouette.
This is a trick that a buddy and I do. We are create plywood cutouts of a large human silhouette, with a head and shoulders, and paint them dark. We then screw the cutouts to the tree, above the stand. From our experience, when deer look up at hunters they are looking for a silhouette of something unnatural. If placed early enough, the “fake” human, wooden plywood silhouette become accepted by the deer. Then, when hunting season rolls around, we just go sit in the stand, in front of the plywood. We can get away with a little bit of movement as well.
Trick #4- Create range landmarks.
Well ahead of season, take out the trusty rangefinder and measure off several distances all around the treestand. With colored twist ties, flag tape, or something else visible, mark off 20, 30, and 40 yards. Use the same color tape for each distance. For instance, every orange tape means 20 yards. It’s always best to range the animal before shooting just to be sure, but in a “2-minute” drill situation, these premeasured distances will help.
If the stand is freshly hung, be sure to range several trees before getting too settled in. I like to quiz myself, and confirm distances often just to keep them fresh in my mind.
Trick #5- Keep a mobile set.
Always be ready to hang and hunt. I keep a portable stand and climbing sticks in my trunk all season long. I never know when I’ll stumble on some fresh buck sign that needs to be hunted ASAP. If cost is an issue, use screw in steps and dust off that old stand hanging in the garage. Bring a folding camp saw to trim limbs and a rope to pull up gear. Do not have any excuses when it comes to hunting fresh sign.
Solid Advice – How High to Hunt?
Many people think the higher the better when it comes to hunting from a treestand. Although solid advice, it isn’t always the best. I prefer to hunt in trees where I will be surrounded by thick cover. I like young oaks, with limbs and leaves everywhere. Many of these young oaks have so many solid branches that they can be climbed without using a screw in step.
Oaks are the last to lose their leaves and make a great home away from home for a fall hunter. Also keep in mind the higher we climb in a tree, the smaller our target area of vital organs becomes. Ground blinds and even pit blinds can be an option for a hunter committed to a certain spot that doesn’t have a cooperative tree to work with.
Stay scent free.
We’ve heard this advice before but it still rings true. We can all get better at our scent control regiment. Be sure to wash hunting clothing separate from your everyday clothes, and wash them in scent free detergent. Store them in scent free containers, and do not get dressed until arriving in the field. Take a scent free shower before hunting.
Spray down everything, including equipment, with scent eliminating spray. Chew scent free gum liberally as well. Invest in high quality scent control clothing and care for it properly.
Deer have concrete memories, and little patience for human interference. These scent control measures need to be taken whenever we enter the field, from hanging a treestand, to checking a trail camera, to hunting. The deer do not know the purpose for our visits nor do they care. We sportsmen who live and hunt in the real world are dealing with animals that do not tolerate foreign odors.
Too many hunters get hurt, paralyzed, and lose their lives each year due to treestand accidents. Be sure to purchase a high quality safety harness and use it properly each time you hunt from a treestand. We all have loved ones at home depending on us to return home safe and alive. Don’t disappoint them by making a foolish choice.
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