Behind every good hunter are a few good stand sites. And, all great stand—or ground blind—setups have several things in common. A handful—and likely the most important—of those things are listed below.
1. Consistent Traffic
You’re right. It doesn’t take much deer hunting know-how to understand this one. But the secret isn’t in knowing a good stand location has deer activity. The secret is in finding that activity and understanding how to hunt it.
In the early season, focus on key food sources for your region. During the pre-rut, continue to focus on food, but hone in on buck travel routes. Take advantage of rub lines and scrapes. During the rut, focus on doe groups, pinch-points, travel corridors and other rut-centric locations. Once the late season arrives, shift efforts back to the food.
2. Wind Direction
You can’t control the wind. But you can control where you hang a stand. Put stands in locations where the wind will allow you to hunt. Don’t hang a stand for an East wind and expect to hunt it a lot. Hang stands where you need them, but be aware of the wind and only hunt them when it’s right.
3. Adequate Cover
All too often, I see photos of stands that stick out like sore thumbs. Ladder stands are the worst of these. It’s crucial to camouflage your stands. Deer are very aware of their environment. They’ll know something is up if they see a 20-foot metal ladder where it wasn’t the day before. Cut tree limbs (cedar branches and other coniferous trees work great) and intertwine them in and around the stand. It hides the stand and gives you cover while in it.
4. Entry Route
You must have a good entry route to the stand. If you don’t, all you’ll do is alert deer to your presence. Stay downwind of deer and steer clear of bedding areas. Take the route that will pressure deer the least, even if it means a two-mile hike. Something I like to do—but most times can’t—is plant a few rows of corn along my routes. This conceals you from prying eyes of deer.
5. Exit Route
This is just as important as a good entry route. You don’t want to push deer walking in. You don’t want to push deer walking out. Again, choose the route that will apply the least pressure. Remember, some stand locations don’t have good entry and exit locations. Take that into account when you hang stands.