How to get into and out of your deer stand undetected
Bow season is here…finally! Built tension and excitement are finally released by climbing up in the stand and bow hunting, but you are hesitant. You know, and have heard time after time, that bow hunting before the last week in October can be a huge mistake. Pressuring your deer too early before daylight movement starts to increase can bring your encounters with deer to a screeching halt. But then again without risk, there is no reward! How about reaping the reward without the risk? Hunt smart, and eliminate the risk by getting into and out of your bow hunting stand undetected.
The odds are not in your favor. You have an army of deer senses like hearing and eyesight stacked against you. The warmer weather of early bow hunting season has increased the potency and residual effects of scent, meaning scent spray or not, you are getting busted. To combat a deer’s nose, and the army of other sense you need a bust-proof game plan.
Every bow hunter has experienced busting deer while walking into their stand. Once in the stand your chances of this are greatly reduced. This means the majority of “human pressure” comes with walking through the property before and after you hunt. There are several steps you can use to minimize this impact while bow hunting.
Map it out
Think about your favorite stand location. You probably know every stump, briar bush, and rock on your way to the stand. While you might think you have the best route picked out, getting an aerial view could reveal something that you might have missed. Find your stand on the map, then your closest access point(s). It helps to mark the food sources, bedding areas, and south slopes, places deer will be in the morning or afternoon. Then try and figure out a route for every wind that you can hunt the stand. If you can hunt during a SSW and NW wind, find a path for both of them relative to bedding areas and feeding areas.
Use anything and everything to your advantage
While looking at your map and proofing your path on the ground use anything you can to your advantage. A creek, logging road, cliff face, old barn, down tree, and/or a slight pitch in elevation. If it has exposed dirt, something to hide behind, or an area a deer wouldn’t go, it’s a safe bet to walk on or next to.
However, even with mapping, proofing on the ground, and using anything to your advantage there are always areas that are deserts.
Minimal Disturbance Entry
The most common desert encountered while bow hunting whitetails is the white oak flat. This area besides some slight terrain is a bust zone. Crunchy leaves, little horizontal cover, and in some cases very little undergrowth in the mature canopy. You could bust 50-100 or more acres at a time in this area and others like it. If you have a similar area don’t worry, there is still a solution.
Again, find your best route using wind, and anything available. Proof this path on the ground then take a leaf blower, and if needed, weedeater to clear a path 2-3 ft. wide. If you’re really worried about disturbance, use a hard rake. This will give you a path of bare dirt to your stand, greatly decreasing the area of woods you will bust.
The second most encountered “bust zone” is large food plots or crop fields. There is very little cover and walking in or out on this path leaves you extremely visible. Plot screens in the form of grass species such as switchgrass or Egyptian wheat can cover your route very well.
In any case, always remember to wear rubber boots and go as scent free as possible. With a clear path and minimal disturbance entrance and exit you are taking a small risk for a big reward.