Setting up our first tree stands can be a bit intimidating.
Now, we are not talking about a fear of heights or general tree stand safety, which is something we should all practice; what we are talking about are the fundamental cores of what we need to know when hanging our first tree stand. The why it works.
Up to this point we should understand that there is adequate sign in your chosen area to hunt deer. But now we have to take one important step to make the opportunity come to fruition. Here are five things you need to understand to set your first tree stand.
Wind direction is one of the most important factors to take into account when setting our first tree stands. Now we must all do ourselves a favor and only half believe any label that tells us we will be scent free. Trust the wind and practice scent free rituals strictly as an insurance policy. We should have a general idea on what way deer are coming and going. Now taking that knowledge and getting an idea of what the most common wind direction is and eliminate the first places that make wind an issue.
How to Face the Stand in the Right Direction
Personally I like to have my back to the direction I believe the deer are coming from and more often than not I stand in my tree stand rather than sit. Particularly when that last hour approaches and deer movement spikes. It is one less piece of movement we need to make when taking the shot and the tree behind me acts as added cover to approaching deer from that backside.
Other things to consider is the cover around our first tree stands. Sandwiching your tree stand between a cluster of trees or some evergreens can all make for great natural cover. Hunters in swamps (that have almost no limb growth) will often ratchet evergreen limbs to a tree to make it appear to be natural growth, creating a greater cover. But this trick can be used anywhere to make up for the lack of good cover. The goal is to break up your outline, a big, thick oak tree with branches sticking out can do that as well. Another benefit to oak tree stands that they typically hold onto their dead dried leaves when most other trees are bare. Cover behind you is also important in concealing you because it adds to a backdrop for deer to look at, so don’t just focus on what’s in front of you.
Drawing Back our Bows
When we set a stand we need to again consider where the deer will be coming from. Not only should we have a set up that makes us feel comfortable and confident drawing our bows back but also how vulnerable the deer is in that “shooting area”. Areas with large enough trees for deer to put their heads behind can be a great advantage to drawing back on a cautiously suspecting white-tailed deer.
Entry and Exit Points
We all have to get to and from our tree stand and if anything, books like The Urban Deer Complex have taught us that once we set foot off of regular walking trails and areas of human traffic it sets those deer into major alert. We must all consider the least invasive entry methods for our stand by default. More importantly giving ourselves adequate time to get to and from our stand without bumping into moving deer. Entry and exit points may well be the most important factor into the success or failure of a particular stand placement.
Thermal Current and Stand Heights
Now thermal currents are kind of a hidden trade secret that relates to tree stand height. Many of hunters credit their high stand set ups to better cover and more flexibility to make movement. This for the most part is certainly an advantage. The hidden factor though, that provides the best cover is thermal currents.
By being 20 plus feet in a stand the thermal currents will often go over a white-tailed deer’s back leaving you undetected. Note that in the mornings as the air heats up it rises lifting our scent up the tree rather than down. In the evening the opposite happens, carrying our scent down with cooling air but with the right height still far enough out to not alarm deer within that 40-yard mark.