Stand Ready

Don't bet the season on one spot.

Field & Stream Online Editors

I could just about set my watch by the appearance of two dandy bucks in a remote soybean field on summer evenings. Visiting the field at midday, I spotted a multitrunked white oak only 20 yards from the deers' entry trail. I screwed in some steps, hung my stand, and trimmed three branches for a clear shot. Then I headed home, counting the days till the opener.

It was tempting to think of this ambush as a slam dunk, but I knew better. Nearly 30 years of bowhunting have taught me that the most handicapped hunter in the whitetail woods is the man with only one stand. Sitting patiently in a single spot might pay off occasionally, but playing that game is like walking a golf course with one club in your bag. When getting your stands ready this preseason, remember that multiple setups are the way to go. Here's why:

Wind Direction
Most stands can be effectively hunted under only one wind direction. My soybean setup, for example, demanded a west wind. Otherwise, I'd spook deer. Multiple setups let you hunt a variety of winds and increase your woods time.

Time of Day
Evening stands should be hung near food sources; morning stands, near bedding areas or on travel routes leading to them. Get this wrong, and you're apt to do a lot of thumb-twiddling.

Changing Food Sources My soybean setup produced only during the first two weeks of the season. After that, the deer switched to alfalfa, acorns, and other fall foods. Knowing the timeline of preferred food sources, and setting up stands nearby in advance, will keep you on deer as they shift menus.

**The Rest Factor **
We announce our presence to whitetails every time we enter their home territories. They smell our scent trails, hear our stumbling, glimpse our silhouettes as we leave. Deer may not alter their patterns after nailing us once or twice, but they will after repeated bumbling. The only way to minimize this: Don't show up in the same spot every day.

Naturally, it can be tough to stay out of a hotspot, even if you have alternatives. So keep a log listing all your stand sites, including the best wind direction, whether it's a morning or evening stand, the food sources, and the best entry/exit routes. Referring to this list before each hunt will remind you to visit sites you've been ignoring.