John’s Note: One time when I was hunting deer, the wind was howling, the rain was coming down, and I was praying my tree stand wouldn’t break loose from the tree where I’d attached it. As I sat 15 feet up in the beech tree riding out the storm, I asked myself, “What am I doing here? I really don’t have any reason to believe a deer will pass this way. My shooting glove is wet, so, the bowstring probably will slide off my fingers. I’m freezing too. And with the wind blowing like it is, most likely I’ll fall out of the tree if I stand to shoot. The only reason I’ve put a tree stand here anyway is because a few acorns have fallen from nearby trees. But acorns are everywhere in these woods. I’m smarter than this. I ought to get out of this tree, go back to the warm lodge and wait for a nicer day to hunt. Surely I can find a better place to put my tree stand than just anywhere in the woods on a rainy day.” So, I left the woods to wait for a better day to deer hunt and determined I’d select a more-productive spot for my tree stand the next time I hunted deer. I decided to study tree stand hunting for deer.
When I was sitting in my tree stand in the middle of a rainstorm (see Day 1), I had discounted the major reason for hunting from a tree stand – being in the best area of the woods to bag a deer. I also had not paid attention to the weather and the wind direction. Where is a productive place to put a tree stand? Here are some ideas successful tree stand hunters use.
* Locate an area where deer are feeding.
* Find a hot scraping region where deer breed.
* Discover a trail deer are using heavily.
Let’s examine each of these to learn why they are effective sites to place tree stands.
* Feeding areas – Deer feed on many different types of grasses, bushes and nuts, about 600-different plants. Although the whitetail is a browser, usually he will prefer one food source over another. Find a particular food source in short supply, and oftentimes that food source will concentrate the deer. Then you can set-up your tree stand close to the food source and have a better-than-average chance of bagging a deer. Remember to keep your stand a sufficient distance from the food source, so the deer doesn’t spot you when he comes in to feed.
* A hot scrape – A hot scrape almost always has a well-used deer trail leading to it, a strong urine smell in the pawed-up ground and a limb hanging over the pawed-up ground that has been chewed by the deer. During, before and after the rut, deer make many scrapes, but an active scrape usually will have a strong urine smell and be in thick cover with tracks leading to and from it. Generally the best stand site is 30-50 yards downwind of a scrape. An older, smarter buck may come into a scraping area 20-30 yards downwind of the scrape and test the air to see if a doe is close to the scrape. Not smelling the scent of the doe, he then may go on to his scrape and work it. If you put up your tree stand 30-50 yards below the scrape on the downwind side, your chances of taking the whitetail are greater.
*Trails – The whitetail is a creature of habit that moves from one place to another as methodically as most of us go to the grocery store on certain days at specific times. To set-up your tree stand close to the best trail, look for a path in the woods that has tracks going in both directions. Then you know the deer are using this trail when they travel in either direction. There will be more deer movement along this trail than along a trail that has tracks leading in only one direction.
To get John E. Phillips’ eBooks and print books on hunting deer, including his newest deer-hunting book, “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks,” available at http://amzn.to/2bYwYOK/, click on these books to learn more, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings.” Or, go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. You also can find John’s books on Nook at www.barnesandnoble.com.
For free information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from https://johninthewild.com/free-books.