Deer Stand Prep: The Key To Making Shots

Stacking the Odds on Stand

Practice is certainly important to making the shot on a huge whitetail. However, there are other things you can do to up your odds even further.

By Steve Bartylla

One unwavering rule for successful whitetail setups is to be unwilling to live with potential problems that you can remedy. For example, don’t leave a branch that you sense could become a potential obstacle.

It’s always better to identify the potential issues before that point. After you get strapped in and settled, picture the various shot opportunities you might have. Pretend the animal is approaching, come to full draw and aim at the fictitious beast.


This might sound silly, but it can head off countless problems. If your bow is going to hit a branch, if you will need to go around an obstacle or if the stand or chair squeaks, it is so much better to know before crunch time.

Speaking of stand squeaks, fix it right then and there. In the case of hang on stands, the squeak can often be fixed by simply raising the platform, tightening the strap and resetting it. Again, this isn’t something you’re thrilled to do when you’re supposed to be hunting. However, it’s well worth it. If you don’t, odds are you’ll forget about that squeak until you’re getting ready to shoot. It’s too late when you remember at that point.

Of course, whether you are going through the act of pretend shooting or fixing the stand, it should go without saying that you need to look around for deer first. Obviously, you also want to move slowly and quietly while doing these acts.

Those simple precautions can go a long way.

Next, mark distances with your rangefinder. Any location within shooting range that has an opening should be marked. I don’t do it just once and call it good either. When I first settle in, I mark each spot. Then I go over them in my mind at least five times. At least once an hour, I quiz myself on the various distances. It drills those ranges into my head to the point that when the buck arrives, I know how far the shot is.

Rangefinders are awesome tools. I don’t believe there has been a single time I’ve went out hunting without one in the past 10 years. However, I also can’t remember a single animal I’ve had the time to range and then shoot. In every case, I ranged its distance well before it ever got there.

Deer season is quickly approaching and it’s time to either visit your stand or figure out where you’ll be putting one. So, what now? You need to clear shooting lanes. Nothing is more frustrating than having a deer in your sights and not being able to get a good shot. Time to chop and saw branches out of the way. Outdoor Edge’s Axe and Saw will make it easy for you, and we’ve included an online course for tips/how-to on everything treestand maintenance! We’ve also included a 20-foot ratchet strap to make sure your stand doesn’t move, accessory hooks for you to hang anything you need, and anti-slip tape that you can place wherever you need. To wrap it all up, we included an online course on treestand safety; presented by Charlie Alsheimer.

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