My first hunting forays took place on Midwest marshes in pursuit of waterfowl and in the Rocky Mountain foothills chasing mule deer. The idea of climbing into a treestand never entered my mind. Then I started hunting Wisconsin whitetails with a rifle. Again, I kept my feet planted firmly on the ground, hunting mostly from behind blowdowns and along field edge cover. I started bowhunting last season. I had some good mentors at the archery range and felt pretty confident in my shooting. But when it came to setting up treestands, I was pretty much on my own. I had some success last year and I learned a lot. Here are few ideas to make your first treestand hunts more successful.
Silence Is Golden
Obviously, a lot of talking is going to alert deer to your presence. But a squeaky treestand can also let you down. Lubricate joints and if you have chains on your stand, cover them with rubber or some other substance to quiet them. I noticed right away that my platform was pretty noisy when standing on it. A piece of carpet zip-tied through the mesh silenced the platform in a hurry. It also provides a better footing in the rain.
Less is More
Bringing every piece of gear in your arsenal may seem like a good idea. After all, you might need something. But the more crap you bring with you, the more you have to work around when you’re trying to find what you need. I film my hunts so packing in efficiently is even more important when I’m already toting camera gear.
Pick up a camo backpack and pack only what you need. An extra release, small tool kit, a few snacks, bottle of water, ThermaCELL, scent eliminating spray, and whatever you deem as necessary equipment should go in the bag. But remember, everything you put in your backpack adds weight and makes for one more thing you have to sort through to get to something at the bottom of the bag. That’s why it’s a good idea to pack things you’ll need rarely at the bottom and commonly used items near the top.
Move it or Lose it
The first stand I set last season was right on my favorite rifle hunting spot. Deer sightings were common and even a few trophy class deer were spotted. The problem is, they were all about thirty yards out of range for my bow. After a few hunts, I finally decided to move it. But that was probably a few hunts too late. If you notice deer constantly moving out of range or you’re not seeing anything, don’t be afraid to pull the plug on a stand site.
Spread ‘Em Out
I’m priveledged to have a great piece of family property to hunt. The problem is, it is five hours from my house. So I’m not a few hours every evening hunter. My bowhunting is usually three or four trips of three or four days a piece. The first few days I’m hunting fresh spots. But after a few trips, I realized my stands were all within a few hundred yards of each other. Yes, some were deep in the woods, others were on field edges. One was across a creek.
At any rate, they were pretty close to each other. Even if I was careful, I’m sure I pushed deer. My daily deer sightings were almost always lower on the last few days of a hunt. This year I’ve taken an aerial photo of the property and focused on spreading out my stands throughout the property so that I always have a fresh area to hunt.
There are a lot of hunters just getting into bowhunting. It’s one of the fastest growing segments of the outdoor industry. My friend Paul Korn from Tombstone Creek Outfitters says he has accomplished hunters from Western states come into camp every year that have never hunted from a treestand. These tips should help new treestand hunters be more successful on their next outing. Good luck!