Choosing a tree stand location is a decision that should never be taken lightly. There are several factors that can make or break a new tree stand location. When it comes to investing hours in one spot waiting for a mature buck to cross your path, there are ways that you can stack the odds in your favor by combining several important factors. Here are my favorite 3 tactics for choosing your next tree stand location.
Watch for Intersecting Habitat Features
While one heavily trafficked deer trail can be the ticket, intersecting trails and junctions of different habitat features are much more reliable for creating encounters. Topographical features, habitat constrictions, lowland and woodline edges, food source and bedding area locations and creek crossings are examples of great features to keep an eye out for, especially when two or more can be discovered in the same location.
The more habitat changes and features you find in one location, the better. One of my favorite stand location tactics for whitetails is to scan aerial images for the convergence of multiple habitat types. The more diverse and numerous the features are that merge together in a single location, the greater the potential for deer movement.
Diminish Your Intrusion Into the Stand
A potential stand location will never be successful if you cannot access it without a low probability of spooking deer while entering, exiting, or sitting in the stand. Consider how you will access your stand location and on which winds you can safely hunt that particular stand before hanging it, and only hunt it when the conditions are ideal. Creating non deer areas where deer will rarely bed or travel is a great tactic for allowing you to access your stand without spooking deer as well as to create an area where you can allow your scent to blow into with certain wind directions.
A great tree stand location with several converging habitat features is useless if you can't control your scent while you hunt. Hanging your treestand and hunting it with the intended wind direction that reduces the likelihood of deer being downwind is the #1 way for practicing scent control. No matter what clothing, technology, or cover scent you use, I’ve found that if a mature buck gets downwind of you, your hunt is likely over.
Don’t Sacrifice a Good Spot for a Good Tree
A great big, straight oak with sprawling branches for cover is what I picture when imagining a great stand location, but let’s face it, few perfect spots come with the perfect tree. If you have found the best possible location for a stand based on intersecting trails, a change in habitat and concealed access, but it lacks a perfect tree, make something work! Don’t settle for a tree 40 yards off of the action for a comfy sit.
While you should never forgo safety while sitting in a poorly grown or tiny tree, you should do everything in your power to get a treestand in one of the nearest adequate trees that doesn’t compromise your access, wind, or effective range. There are tons of great stands on the market that can accommodate some of the most crooked and twisted trees out there. Keep some in your arsenal for these occasions and you will be rewarded when you are hanging above the hot spot, rather than sitting, waiting, and wishing when deer are skirting you just out of range.
Choosing a tree stand location is one of the most exciting steps in preparation for deer season. The thought of a mature buck walking past a location you have specifically pinpointed can lead to sleepless nights. However, make sure that you don't settle for stand locations that haven't commanded the attention of habitat, access, use and pinpoint location.