Surprise Big Bucks With a Backup Stand

It’s often said that first impressions are more accurate than second guesses. But 30 years of deer hunting notes tell me the opposite is true: My backup stands have outproduced my primary ones by a margin of roughly 3 to 1. A recent telemetry study conducted by Connecticut wildlife biologist Howard Kilpatrick may explain why–and it could also help you situate your backup stands for better success during the upcoming season.

In the study, 60 radio-collared deer being monitored to measure the effects of hunting pressure proved very sensitive to the sight, sound, and scent of multiple hunters in the woods. The deer would respond by moving to progressively thicker cover. To anyone with even a little experience hunting deer, this isn’t groundbreaking news, to be sure. But what the study revealed was that the radio-collared deer didn’t bolt for the next county, as many hunters believe pressured deer do. Instead, they merely slipped into the nearest thick cover within their home range.

What does this mean for your strategy? Assuming you have done the requisite preseason scouting to find a buck’s core area and have positioned a primary stand to intercept him, also take the time to locate the nearest thickets and set up a secondary stand or two. Clear shooting lanes and create a backdoor access route now, while deer are still in their summer patterns.

Then leave it alone. A backup stand’s biggest asset is its element of surprise. Start the season by hunting your primary stand. You may very well score there. But if that setup starts to peter out, move to your ambush in the thicket. That’s where your buck probably went–and now you’re all set up with the perfect place to get him.


If your arrows are missing high or low, you’ve probably compromised your anchor point by “creeping” forward at the shot. Train yourself to quit this bad habit by using New Archery Products’ Creeper Peeper ($20; 800-323-1279;, which attaches conveniently to your cable guard and lights up the instant you alter your anchor point. Perfect for the practice range, it’s designed for use while hunting, too. –JEFF MURRAY