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*First I'll look for a good area by driving around the neighboring land of my hunt location to see what else could be a "deer draw," and make note of it. I'll even take pictures of what I see.
Does the farmer to the north have corn still standing, if any at all? Is there soybeans on an adjacent farm? Deer, especially bucks, like to hang out in swamps. Is there any type of water source? Is there a location with lots of oak trees? Are they white or red oaks? Think acorns! What about any apple trees?
Any stand of pine trees the deer may favor especially during winter?
Make note of any of these important finds.
*After I have found the perfect tree for a stand, I like to be set up about 10 yards off of a deer trail. Converging deer trails is even better!
Major deer trail
I proceed with hanging my stand. I make sure I am wearing my climbing belt and have on me a pruner, a pocket sized folding saw, a range finder and my camera. Sometimes a pole saw is needed for those "far to reach" limbs.
*I make sure there is a tow rope already tied somewhere on the stand, within easy grasp when seated and tethered in. On one too many occasions in the past, I had forgotten to bring a tow rope on the day of a hunt, and was left wondering what to do next. This way, it's always ready when I want to hunt that particular stand location.
*I always add 2 or 3 accessory hooks in the tree for my backpack, binoculars and range finder, and if my stand doesn't have a bow holder attached to the platform, I use another hook in the tree for my bow. I always make sure they're at a good level so they are within easy reach.
*While sitting, I look around me for all available "windows of shot opportunities."
If a twig is in the way, I'll prune it. If a small limb is hindering my view, I'll saw it off. If a branch several feet or more out are obscuring my view, I'll use my pole saw. Now I'll stand up in my stand and repeat the routine. What may be clear when sitting, can be completely blocked when standing. Don't take any chances.
*Now I'll use my range finder and scope out 20 yards, which is the average distance a bowhunter shoots, and make sure I have a good clear shot in several directions. Often there will be a tree 5 or more yards away that need trimming also. I'll be sure to remember which tree and which branch it is, cause once down on the ground, perception changes and it's easy to forget which tree was the offending one! Now is the time to do all trimming necessary, not after a botched shot on hunting day.
*I like to take pictures of every view from all directions when I am in my stand. This way, I can refer back to my photos if I forget what the location looks like.
View from treestand
*I also make a map of the hunting land with the locations of where all my stands are located. I give the areas on the map names... "Middle Woods", "Old Homestead", "North Swamp", "East CRP", etc. When I know the direction of the wind the day of a hunt, I can look at my map and decide where the best location would be to sit for that outing. I also let somebody know where I will be by pinpointing it on the map, just in case! I make a habit of wearing a whistle around my neck also.
Map of treestand areas
When the season is over, I check all my stand sites (I have nearly a dozen stands up to play the wind) and make notations in a little *notebook of each location. I mark what type of tree the stand is in, what brand of stand it is (I have several different brands), if there is a foot rest or if it needs one, if it has a bow rest or needs one, if there were screw-in tree steps used or Rapid Rails (my choice of climbing sticks), if it needs any more of either, if it needs a seat cushion, if there is a squeak that needs to be oiled or a nut that needs to be tightened. You get the idea.
This way, I'll have not only photos of the stand site, but also printed info on each stand site. I've been able to remember to add a few things the next year that I would have forgotten about, had I not put the information down at the close of the previous hunting season.
This routine gives me full confidence that I am both prepared and ready for my time on stand. The only thing left to do is hunt!
*Update* I now keep all my notes in my cell phone's "notebook" app.
Alaska and the Yukon
North Alabama, Mississippi p
and North Georgia
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