Frequently Changing Stand Locations Increases Your Chances of Success
While we drove along on the interstate taking in the scenery, my wife asked me, “why are all those tree houses built way out in the swamps”? Of course those “tree houses” were elevated hunting blinds, so I told her they weren’t kids’ playhouses but blinds used for hunting deer from. When she asked if I had one, I responded “not the elevated kind but I do hunt from ground blinds”. I know people who covet their elevated blinds and use them religiously, rarely leaving them to hunt out in the open. I’m told they’re pretty comfy. The problem with them is they are hard to relocate when the need arises, which is pretty often in my experience. They’re also illegal on public land.
The mentality of sitting comfy in your favorite spot, thinking a deer will eventually show, leads to diminishing returns. Hunting a spot that has the best sign or is where you’ve historically seen the most deer works well initially, but returning to the same spot day after day quickly results in reduced deer sightings. Deer may or may not leave those places but they tend to divert their movements around your favorite stand, or get nocturnal to avoid contact with you, the hunter.
After you’ve entered and exited your stand site you have:
- Laid down a scent trail
- Possibly been sighted by deer
- Made noise coming into and leaving, which the deer associate with humans.
If deer detect any of the above experiences, which they frequently do, they wise up and become ultra alert to your presence. Multiply the times you visit that stand location by the ways you can be detected by deer and sooner than later the deer will know you are around, making them difficult to hunt. When deer concentrate on steering clear of humans they are able to remain undetected by us even though they may be basically right under our noses. They stay hidden in daylight hours or find safe places to relocate to. This scenario commonly plays out every gun season here in Wisconsin. Where gun hunting pressure is typically high, the southern two-thirds of the state, most of the deer have noticed human intrusion by opening in areas that only the day before were free of it. Older deer have played this game before and go into human avoidance mode. They reduce daytime travel and seek areas free of human encounters. When they relocate to areas where humans aren’t detected they remain active in daylight hours. This means they are still huntable by stand hunters, if we know where those areas are and will move into them.
We need to understand that we have to be mobile to move our stands into areas where deer have relocated to or remained there all along, free of human interference. As usual, scouting is the key to finding these areas. The best time to scout being just after the snow melts in late winter/early spring. Ideally we should hunt a different location each day, especially during the gun season, as long as there are other places that haven’t been muddied by human activity. Doing this will keep us on to deer that will be on their feet, if only for a little while, during daylight. A deer on its feet is a huntable deer for a stand hunter. Being mobile and relocating our stands frequently, keeps us in the game. Sometimes moving your stand only a short distance (fifty to one hundred yards) is all that’s needed to get us back to being undetected by the deer. Being mobile puts us on to daytime active deer.