Fine Tuning Your Treestand Locations
Ask any bowhunter about their favorite treestand location and they’ll probably have a name for it; “A” stand, honey hole, assassin, death valley, etc. There’s a special stand location in every whitetail hunter’s head that they think about year-around. Waiting for that special week or even day that they can slip into their “A” stand knowing that it is going to be an effective, high opportunity sit. So how can you turn your “A” stand into an “A+” stand and make it even better than it actually is? Here are a few ideas…
Silent/ Clean Entry Trail
Killing off the vegetation to your A-stand helps to reduce your scent and sound when accessing your stand. It can be done inexpensively and typically in a short amount of time. Either use a handheld sprayer or one that attaches to your ATV, and you can have your access trail as scent free as possible. I like to spray around the base of the stand too to keep vegetation down around my bow string and to help reduce the number of stick-tights attached to my pants. If you have hunted in the Illinois or across the Midwest, you know exactly how much of a pain stick-tights can be getting off of your exterior hunting clothes in the fall!
Weedeating or using a walk-behind brush mower is another great option for creating stealthy access. A walk-behind brush mower is extremely agile and maneuverable for areas larger equipment cannot access and a lot less labor intensive than weedeating.
During the winter months and early spring, I like to aggressively cut back access trails with a chainsaw on my way in to stands to trim shooting lanes. Although it may take a little longer on each stand, if you trim it aggressively, it will reduce the amount of trimming you have to do in the fall for several years and it causes less disturbance closer to hunting season when bucks you are hunting are more likely to sense the pressure.
Background Cover: Make a Squirrel’s Nest
One of the top reasons hunters get busted from a treestand is lack of background cover. Although it may not always be practical, one of the best ways to “hide” yourself in a tree is to brush it in. Twisty ties or bailing wire tend to work just fine if you have limbs sturdy enough to hold the brush. I have used small pieces of PVC pipe cut in small 3-4 ft. sections, drilled various size holes from 1/4 in-1 in throughout the pipe, and stuck cedar and oak limbs in the holes to create some instant cover. It’s basically a fish structure turned upside down but works great to help conceal your outline.
If there are no limbs around the platform of my stand, I will take a metal tree-step and attached it to the tree as high as I can above my platform and anchor brush to the metal step with rope or wire. Cedar limbs are my preferred choice for background cover. They are very lightweight for transporting and can provide cover for multiple years, even after the green needles fall off.
Upgrade Your Access Route
Access is everything, and if you’re calling a stand, you’re “A” stand already, your access route is probably already good. But if you really want to dial in your stand site and slip into it as stealthy as possible and without spooking the least number of deer as possible before or after you hunt the stand, here’s a good idea for someone who’s not afraid to do a little work.
Have you ever watched a bobcat navigate through the woods while deer hunting? You’ll probably notice that they tend to walk on downed logs or tree limbs that have fallen on the ground. They have inherently learned that doing so is much quieter than walking on the bare ground. You can take this same concept and apply it to getting into your stand as quietly as possible. This works especially well if your stand is a short distance from a creek or ditch. You can lay down small trees to your stand and get in your stand as quietly as possible. I’ve used old lumber laying around or even old hedge post that will not rot are great for the ultimate “organic” walkway that can make for a deadly quiet approach to your stand. This can be especially helpful in your setting up close to a bedding area or in one.. I’ve slipped into stands before and have had deer bedded within bow range and did not spook while using about 30 yards of fallen logs or old lumber to walk in on.
Lights Out- Keep your Flashlight in your Pocket
When accessing your A-stand in the early morning an easy way to stay flashlight free is to use your phone GPS. This takes a little bit of pre-planning and works best if you can plan out your access route in early spring. Use your GPS and mark the coordinates every 10-20 yards leading up to your stand location. Then transfer the coordinates to a mapping system or any array of phone apps available and you have a flashlight free access. You can help shield your phone’s light by tucking it in your jacket or bag while checking your coordinates all the way to your stand. OnX maps has a great feature that allows you to “track” your access to your stand, allowing you to stay within just a few feet of the highlighted trail on your phone as you enter or exit your stand location.
You can’t control all the factors of the hunt but if you make all the controllable factors near perfect you will experience more success hunting mature whitetails. Every little detail is important.
Last Updated: August 3rd, 2023