here’s a spot in one of the areas I hunt where four well-trafficked deer trails come together to cross a small creek. The spot looks like the best location on the farm, but looks can be deceiving. I should know. I was the first sucker to get tricked by this “hot spot.” Two years later, my friend Jim gave it a try. I tried to warn him, but the sign was too much for him to resist. He hunted there only one time. The next year Dan took his turn, and just this past spring I was scouting through the area and was amused to find yet another stand hanging within 30 yards of my original tree. Jack will find out quickly enough that some spots simply shouldn’t be hunted.
The area is basically a large, bowl-shaped ravine. It looks ideal, but the wind swirls in there like milk in a blender. I didn’t stop hunting the stand because there were no deer; I gave up because it was impossible to hunt the stand without being scented.
**1. The Baited Trap **
Let’s say you’ve got a 250-acre farm to hunt. There are several bedding ridges, a few fields and a nice creek bottom. The creek bottom is going to have the most sign, and, as a result, that’s going to be the place you want to start. So in you go on the first day of vacation and sit in a stand right over a heavy crossing or a big scrape. You see lots of deer but don’t get a shot. You can’t wait to get back because you have finally found the spot. The next day there are far fewer deer using the ravine and again you draw a blank. Figuring it was a fluke, you try one more day and you see few if any deer. Guess what? At the very start of your vacation, you’ve just let nearly every deer in your hunting area know it’s being hunted.
When bowhunting success comes down to keeping deer from knowing they’re being hunted, spending lots of time in ravines is the worst possible strategy. They are the best-looking, worst stands you will ever find. Wind flows predictably over high ground and level stretches but swirls in areas that are protected from the direct flow. As wind blows over a ridge or past its end and enters a ravine or large depression, it swirls like water being poured into a bowl. The farther into the ravine the wind goes, the more enhanced the swirling becomes. At the very bottom (center) the wind will be going in every direction seemingly at once.
As a general rule, high winds swirl more than light winds, just as a fast current in a stream will eddy more turbulently than a slow current will.
**2. The Real Hot Spot **
I had a stand once that was located in a creek crossing at the bottom of a ravine. Even though I got lucky and shot a nice buck the first time I hunted from it, the next season the stand’s true nature was revealed. I got busted by every deer I saw-and from every direction. I moved my stand to a nearby ridgetop on a whim, even though there was little sign to inspire me.
The wind was steady and predictable and so was the action. Five years later that stand is still one of my favorites. The moral of the story: As tempting as it is to hunt ravines, you are almost always better off trying to tag the same deer on the high ground nearby. Deer use the high ground for bedding and bucks travel through these places nonstop during the rut. Find a location that permits you to get in and out undetected and you have the makings of a great stand.