Choosing the perfect stand location for whitetail hunting can be a frustrating ordeal if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Most hunters just randomly choose an area where they see the most deer and deer sign and just throw up a tree stand anywhere in the area. I have seen people get lucky with set ups like this but it is just not ideal. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when choosing the best spot to hunt. If you follow my step by step instructions to choosing the best location to hunt you’ll have a better chance of putting that big buck up on your wall.
The first thing to look at when choosing the best spot to hunt is an aerial map of the land you own or have permission to hunt. This will give you a huge advantage because you will be able to see they layout of the property better than if you were to walk around. This is also good because you will spend less time in the woods which will make the deer feel comfortable and you won’t spook any deer to your neighbor’s property. When looking at the map it is important to look for features that you could predict where the deer will move through. An example of this is called a pinch point, which is an area where the deer have to go through in order to get to food or bedding areas due to features of the landscape. If you see a creek running through your property and there’s a ridge right next to it, this would be a good spot for a tree stand because the deer will most likely travel right through the area in between. Also look for areas where there are food for the deer to eat and areas where the deer will be bedding at night.
Once you have looked over your property from the map it’s now time to put some miles on your boots and start walking the property. It’s important to walk the property because there are some features of the land that you cannot see from a map. For instance, it’s very difficult to see where there are ridges and valleys from a map and if you actually walk these areas you’ll be able to tell if deer are even using them. Another thing to look for when walking your property is locating feeding areas and bedding areas. If you can easily access an area in between food and bedding you will definitely want to hunt this area. When walking the property it is also important to notice where the property lines are so that you’re not hunting right next to your neighbors. This is just really unethical and you always want to maintain a good relationship with your neighbors.
When you finally have a good understanding of what the deer are doing on your property, you can finally choose several different spots that would be good for a stand. These locations should be easy to access without spooking deer and they should also be close enough to harvest the deer. There are several different options of stand to choose from; tree stands, ground blinds, box blinds and ladder stands. For areas that are harder to get to that might be further in the woods I would recommend using a tree stand because it will be easier to set up and take down. If you have a food plot that you know the deer use every day I would recommend a box blind because they are more permanent and will provide you a lot of protection from the elements. And for the areas where there is heavy deer sign but no trees to hang a tree stand or ladder stand I would recommend using a ground blind. The key to using a ground blind is to spend a lot of time covering it up with natural brush so that the deer will not be spooked of the new structure. You want to make it look as natural as possible and it still might take the deer a few days to get comfortable around it.
With the areas picked out you now want to take into account the wind direction. Every stand location should have a good wind that will blow your scent away from the deer so that you won’t get busted. This is very important because if you hunt a stand with the wrong wind it will educate the deer and they will know that someone is in the area and most likely those deer won’t return to the area. You should also set up your stand so that you can hunt different spots with different winds. You don’t want to have all your stand locations set up for a west wind because if you get a north wind you won’t be able to hunt your property that day.
The final thing to take into consideration when choosing the best stand locations is to make sure you can shoot the spots where the deer are going to be. With every stand you set up it is very important to cut out shooting lanes to the nearest deer trails so that limbs won’t get in the way of your shot. I have had several cases where I failed to cut shooting lanes and it cost me a huge buck. There’s nothing worse than seeing your arrow hit a limb and watching that buck run out of your life. Another thing that is important is to not cut too many limbs or trees down because you don’t want to be hung out to dry when hunting. All the deer in the area will notice you up in a tree if you don’t have anything to cover you up.
I honestly believe that if you follow these steps on choosing a stand location you will have better hunts in the future. It took me years to figure out the best way to pick out stands so I hope this will help. I always say it’s better to hunt smarter not harder.