UPDATED ON: May 8th, 2015
It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s humid. Perhaps the farthest thing from your mind is the thought of sitting on stand – a chilly, November breeze stinging your face – bow in hand– watching the sun rise over your favorite creek bottom.
But guess what? If you want a thick-antlered whitetail to come cruising by within bow range this fall, you’d be wise to start thinking ahead to that November morning. Start by getting out in that creek bottom now and hang your stands in order to boost your odds for success later.
You’d notice if someone came into your living room and planted a new chair in the middle of it, right? Deer are no different, except their living room is the very woods in which you bowhunt. Whether you hang a stand now or in the middle of November, the resident deer are going to take notice, although the main thing they’re going to focus on is the scent associated with your stand. The question is how will they react to this new piece of furniture in their home?
Young deer are likely to walk right up to it, take a sniff and continue about their business. But a mature buck that has survived a few hunting seasons is sure to be a bit more disturbed. He might leave the area altogether and not return, or it might just make him extremely alert to the fact he is being hunted. Neither is a reaction you want to provoke if your hopes are to eventually put your tag on him.
Hang your stands now, however, and all the resident deer will have months to get used to the disturbance. They can be totally freaked out by your stands now….it doesn’t matter because you’re not hunting them yet. And, they’re not likely to get as spooked now because deer tend to be more tolerant of human intrusions during the lazy days of summer.
If you’ve ever had an experience with spooky deer during the season that left you thinking, “Man, it’s like they know they’re being hunted now” then you know what I’m talking about. Well during summer, deer often act as though they know they’re not being hunted. Take advantage of that calmness. Get your stands up now. Just remember, if you put stands out in the elements for a long period before you actually hunt from them, be sure to check them for damage when you return for the hunt. Squirrels can chew on straps, rust can weaken support cables, and the sun can rot nylon material.
Trimming shooting lanes now while cover is thick, can encourage deer to start using those clearings now and well into hunting season.
The Past is Your Guide
Most of us hunt the same properties year in and year out. Absent some drastic change in the landscape where you hunt, like a timber cut or development of some sort, the resident deer by and large are going to move through the property the same way from year to year. They have their favorite trails. They’ll bed in the same thickets, and bucks will make scrapes under the same trees.
That’s not to say they absolutely won’t adopt a new travel pattern, but if you’ve watched bucks cruise the same creek bottom year after year, once they start looking for hot does the odds will be good they’ll do it again. That’s should make that spot a likely candidate for a couple of stands to be hung. Maybe you hang one there every year anyway, but you’ve typically waited until the season opens to put it up.
Hanging stands now doesn’t mean you’re locked into hunting only from those trees. You can always take them down during the season if it turns out the deer aren’t using a given area as usual. Or, you can hunt somewhere else using a climbing stand. Personally, I’ve hung stands in summer and then never hunted from them once during the season.
Yes, hanging stands during summer can sometimes be a gamble. You’re betting the deer will show up in those places when you’ve got a bow in your hand. But if they don’t, or you find an area with more action, by all means move. However, if a buck does show up on that frosty November morning, exactly where you expected and ultimately hung a stand for—-then you’ve got him right where you want him.
Using a pulley to hoist your stand up the tree is a real back saver.
Hang your stands now based on what you’ve seen deer do in the past during bow season. Try to face them in the direction that you believe will give you the best shooting opportunity. Go a step further and hang more than one in a given area so you can hunt no matter what direction the wind is blowing.