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How to Pick a Deer Stand Day 1: Football Stadium Seats for Deer Stands

Two deer walk across and open field
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Editor’s Note: You can’t bag a buck if you don’t see the animal. The key to seeing more bucks on every hunt is knowing how to choose the most-productive stand sites. Many hunters choose their stand sites using too little information. This week we’ll learn how to identify stands for next year’s deer season, or, if deer season where you hunt hasn’t ended, we’ll tell about stands you can select between now and February 10th, the end date for many deer seasons around the U.S.

Two hunters in the woods scouting out the area The best way to select a stand site for deer is to utilize the same procedure you use to find your seat at a football game. According to a longtime, avid deer-hunting friend of mine, “An aerial photo is like having a ticket to get into a stadium for a football game. On an aerial photo, you can look at how the ground lies. Each piece of property is different, and you’ll have to hunt it differently. Also, with an aerial photo, you can identify the road systems to enter and leave where you’re hunting – the natural barriers, property lines, bodies of water, large fields and funnels. You even can distinguish between pine woods and hardwood sites on an aerial photo. The textures of the two types of trees will appear differently. Hardwoods will be small, round, blob-looking things on an aerial, since you’re actually seeing the tops of the trees. Pine trees will have a smoother texture to them.”

Yellow and White Airplane Flying Through the Canyona body of waterMy friend, who also uses topographical maps to pinpoint land changes where he hunts, explains that topographical maps are how he locates the section of the stadium where his ticket should allow him to sit. “After I study aerial photos to get me into the land, then I use topo maps to help me find the very-best places to hunt on that property,” my friend continues. “On topo maps, I look for ridges, valleys and terrain breaks. However, the problem associated with using topo maps is they often are not up-to-date. Usually aerial photos are shot more frequently and contain more up-to-date information. In the Southeast where I primarily hunt, one year a field may be planted in cotton, and three years later loblolly pines 10-feet tall may be growing there.”

But to find the row and the seat that’s the best seat at a football game, which is similar to determining where the most-productive place is for me to sit to bag a buck, I’ll have to begin as soon as deer season ends to check the ground. I’ll walk carefully over the spots I’ve located earlier on the aerial photos and the topo maps and look for shed antlers. These antlers will give me an idea of how many and what size bucks are still on the property. Also, I can find where the deer are bedding and feeding and pinpoint their rutting trails.

A deer in the field

Although you can wait until summer to do this on-the-ground scouting, I feel I’m more successful when I scout immediately after deer season ends. Too, in the summer, you have to contend with spider webs, snakes and dense undergrowth when you’re trying to find the best seat in the stadium for your stand site. I choose all my stand sites for the next season as though I plan to bowhunt from them. I want the stands to be close to where I expect the deer to appear. Then, I can take a shot at a deer with a bow at 10 yards or less. Also, I’ll pick the most-direct route to and from my stand site, so as not to disturb the deer in the area.

Cover: Jim Crumley's Secrets for Hunting DeerTo learn more about hunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer”, now available as of January 1, 2022 in Audible, as well as paperback and Kindle at  https://www.amazon.com.
You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on the books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book. Also John and Denise Phillips’ new book in print, “The Recipes You Can’t Live Without,” that’s full of delicious, time-tested recipes for cooking wild game and fish and also ideas for breakfasts at your hunting club just was published in December. Go to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MYTMSMH?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860 to learn more.Cover: The Recipes You Can't Live Without

Tomorrow: Public Land Deer Stands

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