I’ll be honest: You’ve already missed the best time to scout and choose stand locations for this fall. That happened back in late winter and early spring, in that narrow window between snowmelt and green-up. Feel guilty for missing out? Good. So do I. And guilt, I’ve found, is an excellent motivator. So grab your gear, including some stands, because now is the second-best time to scout and the best time to actually hang sets, especially for the rut.

There are three really good reasons to hang rut stands now, and two excellent types of spots in which to hang them. Let’s look at the reasons first, and tomorrow I’ll take you to the spots.

Reason One: Timing
The best reason to hang a stand for November now is the same reason that makes spring a good time; bucks aren’t living in—and sometimes not even using—the places where you’ll set up. Summer bucks have extremely small core areas, and they’re almost always situated close to summer food sources (alfalfa and soybeans in my country). This reduces the chance that you’ll be bumping bucks as you scout and work. What’s more, the bow opener is still far enough off that it’s not a big deal even if you do startle a buck.

Reason Two: Brushing
Whereas spring is the best time for scouting, now is the best time for cutting shooting lanes, as well as entry and exit trails. No matter how aggressively I trim in spring, I’m rarely satisfied with the job when I visit the stand in the fall. Though I’m known for my zeal with a pole-saw, it seems some stupid branch always sprouts in a lane that seemed clear in March. Cut those limbs now and they can’t grow back before fall. Trimming now also lets you be more selective and precise; instead of massive lanes made as a preemptive strike against summer growth, you can snip here and lop there, leaving some stuff for cover.

Reason Three: Less Stand Wear
Hanging stands in late summer saves them from the better part of summer heat and rain; the belts, straps, seat, and hardware will simply not stretch, wear, rust, or rot as readily if you hang sets now.

Got you motivated? Good. Tomorrow I’ll talk about my top two places. The rut may be months away, but it will be the primary focus of where I hang sets in the next couple of weeks.