Right stand-Right time
By Ron aka. rjs

First of all, do you happen to know anyone that seems to connect on big deer season after season? They just seem to be in the right spot at the right time. Why do you suppose this is? It’s because they ARE in the right spot at the right time. These guys understand deer habits and how to use this knowledge to set up productive stand sites. What is the right stand at the right time you ask? I’ll explain.

I break my stand sites down into categories, early season (September), mid season (Oct. 1st-25th), rut (Oct. 25th-Nov. 25th), and my favorite, all season. Each stand has its own purpose and best time of the season to hunt it. It will also have prevailing wind direction factored in and a planned access route to get in and out. Let’s break it down even further.

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EARLY SEASON

My early season stands are typically food source stands. Crop fields, food plots and water are the most productive. I usually only hunt them in the afternoons and evenings. If I do hunt in the morning, I arrive very early to avoid bumping deer out of the fields when heading to my stand. Keep in mind that deer will migrate to different foods as the season progresses. Whitetails love soybeans, but will ignore them when they start to turn yellow and dry out. Water sources can be hit or miss. If you have a week of rain it might not make much sense to sit above your favorite pond. There will be puddles in the ditches and deer can drink without traveling very far. I won’t waste my time sitting on a yellow bean field that deer have forgotten about or overlooking a pond during a rainstorm. A productive early season stand will have a food source that is active. Again, right stand, right time. I will have a couple of stands set up over food sources. Some can be hard to hunt more than a couple of times because deer will be out in the fields and I guarantee they will bust you leaving your stand or will run into your scent trail after you leave. I will hunt these setups a couple of times then move on when the crops are harvested. I have other plans for these stands later in the season and will pull them down. Now keep in mind, if you have crops in the field that mature at different times and they become an active food source, this stand now becomes more valuable and can be used longer and becomes a mid season stand too. But, more on this later….

MID SEASON
My mid season stands will also have active agriculture food sources nearby, but also take advantage of the local acorn crop. I live in SW Wisconsin and when the acorns fall, deer sightings in the crop fields drop dramatically. A lot of people call this the dreaded “October Lull”. The deer activity seems to drop off like they left the area. Trust me, they haven’t. The deer have simply adjusted to the changing food source. I will have a stand or two that will be located off the agriculture food source and by a stand of oaks. I look for an area with an old rub line. I also look for an area that the bucks will use as a staging area this time of year. If you can find a spot that has a scrapes in it year after year, this is better yet. I wait to hunt these stands until the bucks are becoming a bit more active. Most of the local bucks will visit this spot at one time or another when the rut is just warming up. Again, right stand right time. I again only hunt these stands a couple of times. Most stands are too hard to get in and out of without being busted. The last thing you want is to alert every buck in the neighborhood that he is being hunted.

Corn, bean and Buck forage oats makes this stand productive the entire season.

THE RUT

We have now transitioned from early season to the beginning of the rut. Now for everyone’s favorite, “rut” stands. It’s no secret; the bucks go where the does are. I locate my stands just like everybody else. I look for pinch points, ditch crossings-any spot that will funnel deer to me. I set up a couple of stands between bedding areas and in travel routes that contains a rub line. I have found that there is a small window of opportunity to “mini” pattern a buck before the rut fully kicks in. Bucks are now on their feet more and will start traveling from doe group to doe group, in essence taking inventory of all the local does. More than once I have watched a buck move through a travel corridor, out of bow range, realized that I needed to adjust my stand a bit, then arrowed him later that day or a day or two later. Again, right stand right time. Another type of rut stand is for hunting “cruiser” bucks. These are the bucks that you have never seen before, have no trail camera pictures of and didn’t even know existed. I set these stands strictly off the terrain features and past buck sightings. I prefer ridge tops over valleys. I find it easier to keep the wind in my favor. I hunt this setup later in the rut, after the peak breeding is over. I might not see as many deer, hunting from this type of stand, but the ones I do are usually older age class bucks. This is the only stand that I don’t worry about overhunting and may sit these spot several days in a row. Again, right stand right time.

ALL SEASON

This brings us to my personal favorite, all season stands. Remember the early to mid season stands that have food sources that last into the late season? You can catch bucks during the rut, cruising the edges farm fields looking for does that feed in these areas. Remember the early season stand overlooking a farm pond? If November is hot and dry, this stand site might prove a winner when a rutting buck comes in for a drink. What else does a stand need to be considered all season? Well, that answer is easy, all of the above. Food, water, travel routes and bedding areas in the right locations. The best all season stands will be next to a food source with water. It will be on a travel corridor between bedding areas and have access for you to get in and out without the deer knowing it. What makes this stand special? It’s the right stand that can be hunted ANY time the wind is right. Do all properties have such spots? No, unfortunately not. You can create them with a little work, but that is a discussion for a different day. Take a look at your current stands sites, see what category they fit into and see if you are hunting the right stand at the right time.