There’s no arguing about it, treestands are ideal place to hunt from if if you’re after whitetails. They get you (and most importantly your scent) off the ground and onto a better vantage point. If you’re a bowhunter, you will almost certainly use a treestand at some point in your hunting career. Unfortunately, many hunters are unsure of how to properly use a treestand, both for making kill shots and staying safe. These are some of the best practices for hunting from a treestand and whether you’re a novice hunter of just someone recently getting into treestand hunting, these tips will almost certainly help you fill your tag next season.
The Best Practices for Hunting from a Treestand
Choose the Stand That’s Right for You
Every treestand is different: some are easier to set up, others are a lot more comfortable if you need to spend a few hours in them. The best treestand for you is that one that you actually enjoy using. Do you hate shimmying up a tree? Don’t buy a climbing stand. Feel like you could use some back support? Buy a stand with an ample seat and plenty of room to stretch out. Getting the wrong type of treestand just ensures that you’ll never use it.
Scout Your Hunting Grounds
Nothings worse than spending the time setting up your treestand and then sitting in it for hours seeing nothing. Sometimes a particular area just comes up cold, but you can prevent this to some extent with some preseason scouting. Follow the game trails, look for tracks, scat, anything to indicate that deer are frequenting the area. These are positive signs of a good treestand position.
Consider Multiple Stands
Even with proper scouting, you still might not see anything and it’s always good to have a backup plan when this situation arises. Set up one or two stands for every day that you plan to hunt. You don’t want to be limited to a stand that’s gone cold.
Hang It Early
Deer are acutely aware of any changes to their surroundings, so it’s best to hang your treestand a month or more in advance if you can. With time they’ll just see it as another part of the forest and won’t be afraid to approach it (most importantly on Opening Day when you’re occupying it).
Choose Your Tree Carefully
Not all trees are created equal and only a handful of them might be right for hanging your treestand. Find one that is alive – this is critical as dead trees may be decaying and you do not want to hear it creaking and cracking when you’re twenty feet off the ground. Secondly, check the bark, you want a tree where the bark is strongly attached to the tree and has a rough texture to create some friction between the stand and the tree.
Keep Your Harness On
I can’t stress this enough – too many hunters are killed in easily prevented treestand accidents. Whenever you’re off the ground, you absolutely must have your harness on. If you find it uncomfortable, find another model of treestand that you like or don’t use one at all. The risk of falling out is too high and we don’t need to lose any more hunters to such a senseless accident.
Regular Maintenance is Critical
No matter the quality of your treestand, every mechanical device wears out eventually. While the catastrophic failure of your ground blind might result in some ridiculous looking thrashing as the tent walls close in around you, the catastrophic failure of a treestand could result in your death. Check all moving parts and look for signs of wear. If you see anything, get it repaired or replace if before taking it on another hunt.
Give It Some Additional Camouflage
Just like with a ground blind, you’ll want to add some extra leaves and branches to your treestand to break up the outline. Although the stand shouldn’t be in your prey’s field of view, deer still get spooked at longer distances if they see something unfamiliar hanging up in a tree.
Don’t Hang the Stand Too High
The point of a treestand is to get you up and out of the way of the deer’s line of sight and give’s you a better vantage point of your surroundings. However, hang the stand too high and you risk not being able to make a kill shot (it’s pretty hard to make a kill when you’re firing onto the top of deer’s spine). Hanging your stand about twenty feet above the forest floor is ideal.
Don’t Cut Too Much When Creating Your Shooting Lanes
In a dense forest, it’s imperative that you create shooting lanes down to the game trails you’re watching. Failing to do so will leave you to watch that big buck wander by while your arrows are incapable of penetrating the thick cover overhead. That being said, don’t cut down the whole forest in the process. Deer will notice the cuttings and know that something is up (literally). Cut the minimal amount that you need to get some clear shots.
Use Your Spatial Reasoning
When you’re twenty or more feet of the ground the world looks a little different. This is particularly true when you’re trying to focus on how to make that kill shot. Know your animal anatomy so you can identify where on the body to strike to penetrate those vital organs.