Our delayed spring has provided us the benefit of getting in a few extra weeks of scouting for potential tree stand sites for this fall’s deer season. Although cover, food sources and proximity to bedding areas are the three main ingredients I look for when selecting potential stands sites, a fourth consideration is equally important: sun exposure.
As I noted in my book Whitetail Wisdom, sunlight plays a very important role in regard to how many objects appear to white-tailed deer. If possible, try to avoid situating a hang-on tree stand or pop-up ground blind in areas that receive direct sunlight. Even if you’re hunting 20 feet high or higher, the slightest movement in such areas will be detected immediately by any nearby deer. The bright light will reflect off objects and cause them to appear very light in color to the deer, which enables them to spot movement instantly.
When looking for new stand or blind sites, I look for areas that receive natural shade throughout the day. The shade could come from nearby trees, hillsides or even ridgetops. Movement under these conditions will not be detected as quickly by deer. The important thing to remember here is that shade not only conceals you from deer that are already in bow-range, it helps you from being picked off by deer that are traveling through nearby corridors and feeding areas.
Prep your hunting spots now before the foliage becomes too thick. Use a good ratchet-style pruning shears to trim shooting holes (not lanes) near your tree stand. Other helpful items to use while scouting include:
1. Scent-free gauntlet gloves. Ideal for moving branches and other debris.
2. A smaller (6-foot) pole saw. Very portable and ideal for cutting “holes” in the canopy at tree-stand heights.
3. A dedicated pair of rubber or neoprene boots that you only use for scouting/hanging stands. I prefer Muck boots, because they fit perfectly to my heals and offer all-day support.
Just like I do with my turkey hunting gear, I store all of my stand-hanging gear, boots, gloves, ratchet pruners, etc., in a scent-free travel bag. I keep that bag sealed and in my attic so I’m not tempted to use the gear for lawn work, etc. This helps keep it scent-free and ready to use on a whim whenever I need it.