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How To/Pro-Tips

Respect Your Stand

For most deer hunters, both archers and gun hunters, treestands provide a great tactical advantage. But, they must be treated with respect.

Inspect your stands before the season. Replace lost or corroded parts and make sure that the stand is as functional when it was brand new. (Other than adding manufacturer-approved accessories, never modify a commercial stand.)

With permanent stands, check for rotten wood and natural loosening of the stand caused by the wind. Never climb into an old stand you find in the woods.

Whenever you are in an elevated stand, wear a properly adjusted safety belt. Wear the belt while climbing as well and properly "tie off" before shifting or settling into hunting position.

Climbing stands require agility and practice. Practice climbing with your stand, particularly a new type, before the season opens.

Do not climb when fatigued or on medication that makes you drowsy. Always make your stand positions known to others and leave word when you expect to be back.

Defeating Deer Vision

The whitetail's senses of smell and hearing receive so much attention that we often forget its vision. Indeed, a big buck's nose for trouble is incredible and its ears are keen. However, deer see very well and vision is basic to a trophy buck's defenses.

To defeat deer eyes probing for danger, be still and move slowly only when you must. A deer will notice an out of place movement almost instantly. Good camouflage aids greatly. Good cover or a blind adds further concealment.

If "hunter orange" is required, wear it as a vest on the trunk of your body. Avoid wearing orange on parts of your body most prone to movement, particularly hands and arms. Where legal, basic hunter orange broken up by other colors, creating a camouflage pattern, is very effective.

A treestand with a camouflage covering is a great aid in concealment. It lets you get away with careful movement to make your wait more comfortable or to make a critical shot.

Shooting Lane Savvy

Bowhunters have to have a clear shot. Not that gun hunters should try to shoot through heavy brush either, but what a small twig can do to the best aimed arrow is really devastating.

Clearing shooting lanes, and how much you clear them, in a prime stand location is a tough call. You want to disturb the area as little as possible but you have to have the openings, at the right places, to make the successful shot.

When preparing a new stand site, try to minimize disturbance and the amount of human scent you spread around. Drag all cut brush well away from the stand and the lane. Remember, you're not building a road but an open path along the arrow's trajectory. Cut the brush low out where the deer is likely to be, but going back to your stand, cut higher. Head-high and even taller trimming right around your stand will make the area look more natural and not "spotlight" your location.

Bow Check

A thorough check of your critical archery outfit is essential to your bowhunting success. Cover the basics so your gear won't let you down.

Inspect your bow. Look for bent bow-sight pins, broken arrow rests, frayed cables, a frayed bow string or any cracks in the handle, wheels or limbs. Check limb bolts and sight attachment screws for tightness. Lubricate wheel axles to prevent creaking and groaning.

Two or three twists will shorten a stretched bow string by about 1/8-inch. Wax the string at least once a month throughout the season. Replace excessively stretched or frayed strings or strings with broken strands. Look for frayed or broken strands under the serving at the nocking point. It's a good idea to replace bow strings every two or three seasons.

Check all arrows, points and nocks for straightness. Replace or straighten bent shafts and square up heads and nocks. Any of these arrow elements that is more than a few thousandths off perfectly straight can greatly diminish accuracy.

Luck Favors The Well-Informed

Scouting is nothing more than gathering good information that helps us make good hunting decisions. Making good decisions about the best places to hunt is much easier when you have the facts.

A key component in scouting and hunting whitetails is understanding the lay of the land. You can scout much smarter and save a lot of effort and time if you have a good overview of your hunting area. Topographic maps and aerial photos are a great first step toward smart scouting.

Both maps and photos can help you identify key terrain features that translate into the locations of travel corridors, bottlenecks, funnels, bedding areas, sanctuary areas and even food sources. A buck knows his ground intimately and so should you. Topographic maps and aerial photos may give you that "missing link" of information, often invisible on the ground, that ties key terrain features together for your quarry.

Topographic maps and aerial photos are available from the U.S. Geological Survey. Call 1-800-USA-MAPS.

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