Preparing for Deer Season

Chris Pulchny

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Preparing for deer season

Every year millions of outdoorsmen long and wait for opening day of deer season. For some this may be bow, primitive arms or modern gun season but we all wait with the same fervor. The following guide will help you break down your preparation into three steps as easy as your ABC's. Hopefully the instructions will help make your season more productive than any in your past. As always when you’re in the woods respect Mother Nature and your fellow man, making us just not “users of the land” but stewards of the land. The outline for this description of gearing up and preparing for deer season will follow the ABC format listed below:

A) Securing a property to hunt.
B) Locating the most productive areas.
C) Proper stand/blind positioning and hanging/building.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what we will be covering let us begin our preparation for deer season.

Section “A”Types of hunting property:

Public property

Hunting public property provides many opportunities to pursue various types of game, however we will be keying in on Whitetails in particular. This land is open for you to move about and find your own hot spot, but to narrow down your public land options follow these rules to lead you in the right direction.

1. The greatest challenge when hunting public land as efficiently as possible is to not search for game so to speak, but to hunt for areas that other hunters are not utilizing. The game will be in these locations.

2. Once you have located a productive area at your public land hunting spot, try to determine the least invasive way to approach this area and exit as well. Keep in mind that the reason the deer feel comfortable in this area is due to the lack of pressure. If you begin to pressure the animal just as hunters do on the rest of the property your new hop spot will ultimately go cold.

Once you have located such an area and it proves through sign that deer are using it, you will be faced with many perplexing options of where to actually set up your hunting spot that will begin later in this guideline for preparing for deer season.

Hunting leases
Hunting properties are held mostly in the hands of private property owners or leasers. If you don't have the bank account to go out and buy your very own 5000 acre paradise here are some simple steps to finding a quality lease you can afford. I’ll bet someone else has done his homework to find out when the current holders lease is up. These steps should guide you to be that lucky individual.

1. Begin early. The best hunting lands aren't a secret.

2. Try to contact the property owner to see if you might be able to get in line for your chance on the property.

3. If you’re having problems finding out who owns a certain tract of property that you have your eye on, this can be solved very simply. Go to your county clerk's office and pick up a plat book. This will have (depending on the state you live in) the lands in the area mapped according to townships, ranges and sections all the way down to individual land owners.

4. Another option if you have access to the internet and a computer is to pay to download maps from any of the many mapping companies that are out there, just find one that you feel best fits your needs.

5. Begin to network. Let everyone you know that you are in the market for a hunting lease. Ask around at church, work, and the stockyard or farmers market. Someone in your circle is bound to know someone for you to get into contact with.

6. Once you find a willing individual find out what the terms of the lease are as far as payment. Don't jump straight out on a limb and offer a dollar amount. Some property owners may be willing to trade some form of labor, such as you checking the fences as you hunt and repairing them as needed, or they may even have you hunt to keep their property free of trespassers.

7. Also you will need to work out the “hunting” details. The owner may only allow bow hunting. Or maybe everywhere on his property except for the “north pasture where he keeps his calves”. Work out all of these details to make sure all member s are in agreement.

Private property
Owning your own property to hunt on is always the best option. But if for some unknown reason the deer seem to have left your property you may want to look into the two options above.

Section “B”Locations:
Now that we have covered the types of property we will be using let's begin to lay guidelines for how we will utilize and locate productive areas. There are many features that will dictate how you determine a productive location and how to utilize it.

1. To begin we will start with the easiest areas to determine, feeding areas. These may be areas where you see deer grazing in every morning and evening on your way to or from work such as agriculture fields. The areas that may take a little more deciphering are going to be the hard and soft mast foods (hard mast being nuts and leftover grains, and soft mast being browse such as forbs and yearly fruits). The deer won't be as visible in these areas from a quick glance, but by a little observation you can go in and find the tale, tale signs of use. Look for droppings, tracks (any over 5 inches is a big buck), rubs, or beds in these areas. You will also need to determine when the deer are using the feeding area; you don't want to waste your time sitting where the deer only feed at night. This can be accomplished by hanging trail cameras to pattern deer movement.

2. The next feature you will want to locate is what is commonly referred to as funnel area. A funnel area will be any terrain feature that dictates deer movement into an area. Such as a string of timber that connects two large blocks of hardwoods, or two ridges come together forming a low spot to cross. Deer are just like us and like to use the path of least resistance with the least chance of being seen. So do you, when hunting so use this feature to your advantage.

3. Locate old rub and scrape lines where mature bucks have spent their time in the past. These are obvious signs that there are bucks in the area and of what caliber they might be. Don't be surprised if these areas show little use, they will become active again just as the rut starts to kick in.

4. Lastly you will want to locate bedding areas. These will be secluded well hidden areas that offer great cover and utilize the wind as well as the animals’ vision to alert them of danger; long before it becomes a threat. These areas will have trail leading to and from the previous three locations. Once you’ve located the bedding areas back off,

You do not want to disturb natural movement. You may want to find a stand location that is in route to or from one of the previous locations; but rarely if ever, will you want to hunt in a bedding area.
With locations found and understood; the hunter should be beginning to have some suitable stand locations in mind. However before running out and slapping stands all over your property, there are a few more steps to fully understand to where and how your ultimate hunting spots should be decided.

Section “C”

Proper stand/blind positioning and hanging/building:

When you have found your location(s) you need to start to think about proper positioning and placement. The following steps will help you narrow down the most beneficial stand site(s). There are just a few things that when considered beforehand, that help make everything that could go wrong - go right.

1. The direction the deer will be traveling from the most is a must to know. Determining that can be done from direction of tracks, which side of the tree rubs are found on, or by just thinking about where you are. Are you between a bedding area and a feeding area in the morning? Are the deer using the area to feed at night? If they are feeding at night they will be heading back towards the bedding area you found earlier. But if they are using the feeding area in the early morning it is likely they will be heading towards it from the bedding area. But why do you need to know this? Prevailing winds. You don't want to set your stand in such a way that the wind is blowing your scent straight to the deer warning them before they ever get to you. Find a tree for a stand (or area on the ground for a blind) that will have the prevailing winds blowing your scent in the least likely direction that the deer will approach.

2. Next you will have to review your choices for entry and exit routes. Once again paying attention to wind direction. You also won't want to leave your stand just to walk through an area and spook deer as they feed at night, keep these things in mind when picking the perfect spot.

3. Lastly the time you are intending on hunting the stand must be thought out. Will it be a morning or evening hunting area? The reason for considering this is the location of the sun. you don't want to be perched high in your stand on opening morning only to realize that you can't see a thing because of the sun glaring through the trees. This also illuminates you in your stand amplifying any movements you or your weapon make.

With the previous forethought put into placement all you have left to do is to actually hang your stand or construct your blind. This will lead us into the step of actually doing so.

Building your Ground blind:
1. In your selected area pick a tree that is wider than your shoulders and meets all the criteria from the previous set of steps. By selecting a tree wider than your shoulders you have minimized the risk of your body being silhouetted by protruding beyond the edges of the tree and looking unnatural and amplifying your movements. But most of all this is a safety concern, due to the fact that there may be unknown hunters behind you and this protects your body from their errant shots. Now that you have selected your base area the real work begins.

2. Start by backing away from your hunting area and begin cutting natural vegetation to construct your blind. The reasoning for moving away from your spot is that you do not want to alter it in any way that may change deer movement patterns that you have worked so hard to figure out.

3. Once you feel you have an adequate amount of supplies cut begin moving them back to your building site.

4. Back at your tree begin to form a half moon “nest” around the base of your tree. Start with the largest vegetation at the base slowly working up with smaller vegetation. Keep in mind as your structure grows higher that you must be able to shoot comfortable in the position you plan to hunt out of your stand. If you plan to sit on the ground you may have to periodically sit down to make sure you haven't already gone to high. Likewise if you plan to sit in a chair or on some elevated devise check for the proper height.

5. Weave and intertwine your vegetation until it builds a self supporting wall that you feel will sustain itself through the elements.

6. Now that you believe you have achieved the height and structure that you desire trim away any “stick ups” that may impede your movement across the top of the blind while aiming your gun or drawing your bow.

7. Lastly remove all vegetation and debris from inside your blind to the bare dirt. This will give you the upmost chance at being silent while moving in your blind.

8. With the last steps finished you will also want to sparingly remove a little (very little) vegetation around your blind to create shooting lane to offer you the best possible, ethical shots at game.

9. The last step in building your ground blind is going home and waiting for the season to start. And when it does don't be surprised when the deer showed up just as you expected them to after all of your hard scouting work.

Hanging your deer stand:

If you prefer to hunt from elevated tree stands as most hunters do this section will instruct you on how to properly and safely hang your stand in the tree you have chosen after having followed the guidelines in the “positioning” section.

1. We will begin by assuming that you’re going to be using a fix position hanging stand of some form or another. We will also assume that your stand was taken down last year and just tossed into storage, or may have even hung the entire year in another location. Regardless of where it was or how it was stored you must always check and make sure that all moving parts, fixed parts, attachments, straps and harnesses are in good working condition. If any part of your stand seems to be damaged- replace the part of even the stand itself. A nasty fall from twenty feet is anything but your dream opening day of deer season.

2. When you walk into the woods you will instantly want to hang your stand in the “easiest” looking tree. But remember our rules from our “positioning” section and choose a handful of choices from that.

3. You can now narrow your tree choices down even more by considering how high you actually feel comfortable sitting. You will need a tree that will support your weight and the stands weight at that height.

4.To actually hang your stand you might want you talk a friend into tagging along to give you a hand to keep safety at its highest level. But that might be a problem for those of us that like to keep our secret spots a “secret”.

5. Previous to getting to the point of hanging your stand you we have needed to determine what type of climbing system you will be using. There are many concepts on the market from screw in steps, ladders or even strap on steps that minimize damage done to the tree and are mandatory on many public lands. If you are hunting public land this is an issue you may need to look up. But for the following instructions we will assume that you are using the most widely accepted and available model of screw-in steps.

6. Starting at the base of the tree determine how high you are comfortable raising your leg in each step. Your first and following steps should be screwed in this distance apart to limit awkward straining to climb your tree.

7. To screw the steps in the tree apply direct pressure to the tree with the screwing point of the step.

8. While pressure is being applied begin to turn the footstep in a clock wise motion.

9. Continue turning until the step is fully embedded into the tree and stable.

10. You will repeat this process with every step until you reach your desired height.

11. Once a desired height is reached descend your tree and gather a length of rope that is longer than the height at which you plan to hang your stand.

12. Climb back to the elevation at which you plan to hang your tree and attach the rope firmly to a healthy branch or to the trunk of the tree. This rope will be used to hoist your stand to the intended hanging point, rather than dangerously trying to climb and carry it at the same time.

13. Descend your tree and firmly attach the hanging end of the rope to your stand.

14. Now re-climb your tree and hoist your stand to your desired location.

15. Place your stand in such a way that it will benefit your style of shooting. Right handed shooter almost always feel the most comfortable shooting to the left, and lefties almost always feel the most confident and comfortable shooting to the right side of their body. Game movement must be considered in this element of hanging.

16. One your stand is in a desirable location, attach it to the tree following the specific guidelines for the particular make and model of stand you own. This can vary from product to product so keep that in mind.

17. Now that your stand is firmly attached to your tree climb onto its platform. You may need to trim vegetation that may come in contact with you, your weapon or any gear you will have in your stand, to reduce noise, movement etc.

18. Now insure that you have clean shooting lanes in the direction you most expect the deer to travel from.

19. Clear shooting lanes as necessary but trim very little as to not alter natural deer movement through the area. Good shooting lanes will offer you the cleanest most ethical shots.

20. Before leaving your stand attach the length of rope you used to hoist your stand to its location, to a point of easy access somewhere around your stand. This will be used to raise your gear and weapon into and out of your stand throughout the season.

21. With all the above work complete your stand is ready to hunt. Now all you have to do is Go home and practice shooting your gun or bow in anticipation for opening day of deer season.
I hope that these instructions helped for you to better understand all of the topics discussed from choosing property types, deer habitats, and stand locations. These are all time honored and well polished ways to make your time in the woods more enjoyable.

Lucky hunting!

Posted by Chris Pulchny under Deer Hunting on May 18, 09 09:58 AM | Permalink

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