All-Day Hunton Nov 7, 2012
Seven hours. That is what stood between me and sundown; seven lingering, solitary hours in a cold, lifeless treestand. Could I do it? Could I handle the physical as well as the mental strain? Could I stay for the long haul? I hoped so. After all, I was counting on something big taking place. Seven hours. That is what stood between me and a potential date with destiny; if I could just stay.
Now, I could go on and describe every hour of the hunt in great detail; outlining exactly how difficult my ambitious tactic was. How the minutes seemed to move by like tree sap on a cold November morning. How, at times, I wanted nothing more than to simply go home and see my wife and kids. Perhaps I could illustrate just how miserable I really was; enduring elements that would surely break the will of even the toughest mountain man. I could tell you how I struggled like a turtle on its back, just to stay focused. I could even tell you that at the end of the day I went home dejected and empty handed. I could tell you all of that, and more. But you know what? It would be a lie. The truth? The truth is that waiting for my date with destiny….could not have been easier.
Perhaps the single biggest mistake bowhunters make when deciding to tackle the chore of sitting in a treestand for an extended amount of time is….timing. What I mean is that many decide to “give it a try” during the wrong phase of the whitetail season. Consequently, their motivation and fervor quickly dissipates. For example, planning an all day sit early in the season, a time when most mature bucks restrict their daytime movement, is an exercise in futility. True, anything is possible and maybe you will get lucky during this part of the year and fill your tag. However, over the long haul, the odds will be stacked against you when compared to all other phases of the season.
While the start of the season may bring about a feeling of excitement and motivation for an all day stint in the timber, save that enthusiasm for when it will really pay off. You risk burning yourself out and educating your quarry by hunting “all day” too early in the season.
So, when is the best time to attempt the decathlon of treestand perching? If I had to pick one time frame for an all-day outing it would be the hard pre-rut or the chase phase. During this stage every buck in the woods will be on his feet, throughout all hours of the day, searching for a hot doe. Obviously, this type of behavior is very conducive for an all-day sit. In contrast, waiting until after the bucks are holed-up and actually engaged in breeding the does, can prove for some very uneventful times on stand. During the hard “pre-rut”, when hormone levels are rising faster than the tension between the Dallas Cowboys, a big buck will be at his most vulnerable; he will also make himself more visible than any other time of the year as he roams about, looking for love. Encounters can come at any moment. Therefore, maximize your opportunities by occupying your stand for as long as possible during this short time frame.
Anyone looking to open a new business establishment realizes the importance of location. No matter what you’re selling or what type of service you are providing, the three most important things to consider are location, location, and location! Pick the wrong one and the odds are good you won’t be in business very long. The same holds true for the aspiring whitetail hunter. If tagging big bucks, or any buck for that matter, is your enterprise, then you likely understand the importance of location. True, there are countless other facets at play that will contribute to your overall success, but when preparing yourself for a triumphant all-day stake-out, “zip code” means everything.
While you may be tempted to hang your “marathon” stand near an abundance of buck sign, resist the urge. Odds are good that most of it was made sporadically and under the cover of night. Neither quality favors a buck encounter during daylight hours; no matter how long you sit in one spot.
When considering location, think about where the bucks are going to be. You can forget about hunting rub-lines or scrapes. Those may have been great spots during the early part of the pre-rut, but as the chase phase draws near, just before actual breeding takes place, the bucks are busy doing one thing….searching for does. Likewise, you should be doing the same. I believe the one location that is going to provide the greatest amount of doe sightings, which will ultimately lead to more buck sightings….is bedding areas. Think about it. The bucks are on the prowl; chasing potential partners all through the night. As day begins to break, the does start their journey back to the bedding area. And guess who’s tagging along? Obviously, if you are situated in a high traffic area (somewhere in the bedding neighborhood), your chances of seeing a doe with a buck in hot pursuit are substantially higher.
You’re basically trying to intercept the does as they return to bed during the early morning hours as well as later in the day when they get up to browse or just stretch their legs. Also, consider that if you’re still in your stand when the sun starts to go down, you can conceivably encounter them one last time as they head back to the main food source. They may not always have a buck in-tow, but during this stage of the game you want to be sure to surround yourself with as many does as possible. There is no better attractant.
In addition, understand that a buck doesn’t have to be right on the heels of his obsession in order for you to take advantage of hunting near a doe bedding location. For example, a buck passing through the same area, several hours after a hot doe has made her way back to bed, can still pick up the scent and track her. Hopefully, her steps took her right by your stand; eventually causing “old tangle horns” to do the same. Realize as well, that several different bucks could also pick up her scent and easily make their way to you; which leads to my next point.
Throughout the day, bucks will be busy scent-checking bedding areas for any sign that a doe has indeed come into estrus. By setting up on the downwind side of a known bedding area, you could possibly hammer a rut-crazed buck as he attempts to “sniff out” a companion from afar. Also, if a buck happens to enter the bedding area to roust up an unwilling doe, and you are set up along a likely travel route somewhere nearby, your odds of success only get better.
Regardless of what area you choose to hang your stand, be sure and pick a spot that is going to provide plenty of doe encounters. For me, that location is bedding areas.