Hunting From A Stand

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There is little question that, if asked, I would have to admit that my favourite way to hunt is from a stand. There is just something about the whole process that appeals to me, right from the selection of a site to the hours wiled away on a stand where you are totally at one with Mother Nature.

It may also have something to do with the fact that I have taken some of my best game from a stand, or simply that the hours spent watching wild critters come and go are hours added to one’s life, not subtracted. It’s the best show on Earth that money can’t buy.

If that is not enough to spark your interest, game, when it appears, is often very relaxed and at ease, giving you plenty of time to size up your quarry and make your shot.

But how does one turn a stand into success? Here are some fundamentals.


Site selection

You have all heard the realtor’s mantra, “Location, location, location.” Well, the same can be said for a stand site. Any success you may have, no matter the species, boils down to site selection. And for me, that begins with pre-season scouting.

If you are really committed, scouting can begin as early as spring by hunting sheds and then in late summer or early fall by glassing likely looking areas, which then must be followed up on by hiking the most likely looking areas, seeking out game trails, scrapes, feeding and bedding areas and so on. This is where a trail cam can be of assistance, although, I must admit, I have not used one.

Look for pinch zones or corridors between feeding areas. Let’s face it, game will use every bit of cover that they have at their disposal to move from one area to another and if it just happens to be a narrow zone between a couple of fields or where a natural obstruction will force them into such a corridor, you have immediately put yourself into the driver’s seat.

I also pay attention to the prevailing winds and factor in just how they might play out in my choice of a site. In other words, I want to ensure that I select a site where the prevailing wind will more frequently than not move my scent away from any hunt zone.

Any site I select should have as close to a 360-degree shooting lane as possible. If I have to clear some brush to enhance this view, I do so, as nothing can be more frustrating than having a big buck or bull in view but because of some brush you hadn’t cleared earlier, you can’t make the shot. It has happened to me and the memory still remains as “the one” (if it were only one) that got away.

I then prioritize a list of three or four sites that take into account all of the factors mentioned. Then, if perchance I arrive at my number one site and the wind happens to be wrong on that particular day, I already have a number of alternate choices in the bank for a quick change. It is surprising how often my second or third choice has come through in just such a situation.


Set up

Here is where you have a number of important options to consider. I like to keep it as simple as possible. I often use whatever natural cover there is in the area, to improve a stand site. I have found that if I ensure that I’m not silhouetted and have a sufficient back drop to break my outline, more often than not, this is all that is required, particularly if I have paid attention to the wind. Some camo netting can be very useful here.

Despite my desire to keep it simple, I have also very effectively used everything from permanently built tree stands, elevated stands to ground blinds.

Elevated and/or tree stands certainly offer the additional advantage of getting the hunter up off the ground. While this enhances the hunter’s viewing area, they both require additional effort in either construction or in getting it to a site and/or up into a tree. These factors, however, can limit the potential option of a quick move, unless you already have a number of other elevated or tree stands in play. And, while on the subject, I can’t overemphasize the requirement of a safety harness when in a tree stand and ensure that you climb in and out of it safely, and that applies to moving your firearm in and out of it as well.

Ground blinds can also fall into two categories: those of a permanent or semi-permanent nature and portable units. While most blinds, like tree stands, are not easily moved on a moment’s notice, they do offer the additional advantages of concealment and comfort by getting you out of the elements, especially when the weather gets nasty. This, unquestionably, can become an advantage by keeping you out there longer.

There is any number of quality elevated stands, tree stands or blind options on the market these days, however, prior to any purchase, do some research to ensure that you are getting exactly what you need for you and your hunt situation. I always look to ease of use, portability, safety, quality of construction and comfort as five of my requisite features.


Making it happen

Now that we have our sites selected, how do we bring it altogether?

I am going to start with comfort. If you are not comfortable during the long hours required to be successful, you are either going to be fidgety or you will leave early. Both are no-nos. You need to keep your movements to a minimum and when you do need to move, do so slowly, and you must hang in there for as long as possible. In other words, I would suggest that you hang in there until late morning and until it is so dark in the evening that you need a headlamp to walk out.

In order to achieve both, I always use a very comfortable chair or ground cushion with a back support and dress appropriately for the weather. Here, camo and scent-free clothing can offer you some concealment and scent control advantages. I have also, on occasion, used scents around my stand to offset my potential odour when the wind was unpredictable. And never use the area around your stand as a bathroom. If you do, you might as well just pick up your gear and head to another stand.

While on the subject of scent control and wind, if the wind happens to change to a point where it becomes a factor, change to one of your other site selections. If you don’t move, the odds have just changed and not in your favour.

I also like to get to my stand well before first light or well before twilight in the afternoon. As soon as I get settled, I begin to glass every inch of my area and do so every few minutes. It is uncanny how a buck or a bull will suddenly show up when, just minutes before, the landscape was void of a living creature.

Use a rangefinder and identify the distances to a whole series of identifiable locations, so that if an animal shows up in proximity to one of these locations, I don’t even need to range it in order to know the distance to my target.

Be sure you don’t leave home without your calls, or calling devices such as rattle antlers or a moose scapula, as I have used all on a stand quite successfully, for everything from deer to moose.

I also like to carry a backpack with binoculars, rangefinder, extra clothes such as rain gear, calls, energy bars, water, GPS, extra ammo, headlamp, camera, compact first aid kit, flagging tape and all the gear necessary to both field dress your game and haul it out to a pick up spot.

Last, when hunting from a ground stand, I always include a set of shooting sticks.

If you have never tried hunting from a stand, give it a go, as it is sure to put more meat in your freezer and mounts on your wall.

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