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Stand Placement Strategy


         Where do I place my stand? This is perhaps one of the key pieces to the puzzle of hunting mature whitetails. If you are a food plot hunter, or a woods hunter or even a hunter who focuses on agriculture fields this question is always paramount to the success or failure.

As a long time deer hunter who began well before the peak of our population and well before the food plot trend and certainly before baiting became legal. We relied on scouting to find the best location. Today, more and more hunters are manipulating the terrain and topography to make the deer come to them rather than scouting and going to the deer. I am not saying which is right or wrong, but those who successfully kill big mature whitetails are not just planting a plot and hanging a stand. They are not simply dumping out some corn and hunkering over it. Not in the least.

Whether you are a food plot hunter, bait or more traditional, scouting and finding the right place for your stand is one of the most critical elements to success. This is true whether you are hunting with guns or bow.

I have said before and will say again, that selecting the perfect tree starts with access to that tree. It doesn’t matter how much scouting you do, and how much prep you do, if you cannot get to that tree without alerting every deer in the area that you are there, you are wasting your time.

Determining where based on scouting can be confusing to some. Here are some general guidelines on deciding where to set a stand. For simplicity, we will discuss as if we are bow hunting and gun hunters can use the same logic.

My scouting focuses on rubs and trails. Rubs are wholly made by bucks, while trails are made by many different animals. Rubs will show you exactly where a buck has been. There is no guarantee that he will return but the chances are better that he will. Rubs are made for two primary reasons. One is to mark territory and the other as a sign post for other bucks and does.

Perimeter rubs are made by mature bucks to define his core area. There will be trees rubbed in fairly straight lines and pretty frequent. I have seen rub lines where trees were a few yards apart to thirty to forty yards apart.  When I find a likely spot with a lot of rubs, I want to find an area that I can access well and get good shots without doing too much limb trimming. Setting up inside thirty yards of this line is good, closer if you need to, but not too close. If hunting with a gun, you can set up a bit further.

Once you have determined your general area, now you have to begin selecting the optimum tree. Depending on the type of stand you have this can be simple or difficult. Most hunters are looking for a tall straight tree with a little cover. Since most stands simply do not work on a tree with any crook in it at all. Twisted Timber Treestands has fixed this problem with a simple design that allows hunters to hang a stand perfectly level regardless of the shape of the tree. Now selecting a tree is as simple as finding the right tree. If you do not yet own a Twisted Timber Treestand, you will soon. But if you are looking for a straight tree, you must remember that concealment is critical. Do not select a tree that is out in the open. Find one that has some cover nearby. Personally I prefer hardwood trees for my stands. They are much quieter to climb and they are usually larger in diameter and provide a broader back. Secondly, I look for a tree that has some saplings growing adjacent to the tree I am climbing. These saplings will more often than not provide perfect concealment. Make certain you can shoot through or over the cover trees.

Once all of this is determined now is the time to not just determine your access but to mark your trail to and from your stand. By this I mean, that you need to map out your exact access trail. Use reflective tacks or survey ribbon or both to mark the trail to and from the stand. Next is to walk this trail and remove any and all debris you can from the trail. On some of my trails, I rake the leaf litter off of the ground and remove dead limbs and sticks on others, I walk in the creek with rubber boots, and others I use logging roads before turning directly into the stand.

The time you take to mark your trail is time well spent. When you can get into and out of that stand as quietly as possible, you increase your chance of success.

Scouting and selecting the perfect tree is one of the most rewarding challenges of deer hunting. When that mature buck comes by and has no idea that you are there and you are able to make a good shot and kill him. The pride and effort that took place in selecting that stand is very rewarding.

Selecting the right stand location is a strategy, and one that the most successful hunters spend a lot of time and effort perfecting.