How to Approach Your Tree Stand Without Spooking Nearby Deer

BRANCH OUT As you remove branches to create shooting lanes or a clearer path, place some along your trail, pointing in the direction of your stand. These discreet markers keep you from bumbling around noisily in the predawn. Light-colored birch and aspen work best.

SMOOTH YOUR TRAIL Few blunders will give you away more quickly than the sound of your feet falling on crunchy leaves or brittle twigs. Before the season starts, use a lawn rake to groom a trail along the last 50 to 100 yards leading to your stand.

WALK SOFTLY The fleece overboots that Western hunters use to stalk elk and mule deer work great for stealthy travel in the whitetail woods. Wear Safari Sneakers from Crooked Horn Outfitters ($25; 877-722-5872; crookedhorn.com), for example, while heading to and from your ambush.

CALL WHEN YOU CRUNCH Always keep a game call or two handy. If you do snap a twig or trip over a log, you can cover up your noisy misstep by yelping like a hen turkey or bleating like a fawn. Then pause for 30 seconds or so before quietly moving on.

WRAP YOUR PACK Most stand hunters stow their outer layer to avoid sweating on the way in. And most packs are made from noisier material than hunting clothes. So kill two birds with one stone: Wrap the jacket around your pack and tie a knot to keep it in place.

SEE RED Having trouble finding your stand in the dark? Go ahead and switch on a small flashlight, but use a red filter over the lens. Whitetail vision is yellow- and blue-sensitive, which means that red is more difficult for them to see--and they'll be less likely to bust you.