Proper Stand Approach

Proper Stand Approach

By: Heath Wood

Whenever my coworkers and I would gather around reminiscing about past hunting adventures, the oldest of our group would be lingering around in the background, listening to our stories. He was an older man who worked a few days a week, only to have something to do. Yet, he was full of knowledge on football, baseball, and my favorite, deer hunting. After hearing our stories of past hunts, he would always chime in to give his opinion and tell us how people hunted in his earlier years. After the gentleman took me to his house one day to show off his trophy wall, I decided I should probably pay attention to his strategies, judging from the quality of deer displayed on his walls.

Out of ten plus years working with this gentleman before he sadly passed away, one of the best pieces of deer hunting advice that he shared was how he approached his stands in the mornings and left them when the hunt was over. It was unique in the way that he was sitting in his stand, ready to go, two hours before first light. His dedication and attention to detail paid off for him by harvesting multiple mature bucks in his lifetime.

Proper Stand Approach

One of the biggest mistakes made by hunters is pressuring deer away from their area hunting. When trying to harvest a mature buck, whether with a bow or rifle, the more painstaking effort one puts out, the more likely they will succeed. Three things can cause pressure. The deer see, smell, or hear something they do not like, alarming them enough to spook out away from the hunter. The older gentlemen that I had the privilege to work with spoke of stand approach often. He explained that he would sneak his way into his treestand two to three hours before daylight so that he didn’t push away any deer. He still had time for the woods to calm back down before legal shooting light when he performed this maneuver.

Approaching Your Stand

Approaching the stand correctly is vital to keep mature bucks in the area where you are hunting. Having an entrance and exit route that is the shortest distance isn’t always the most important. Instead, one must approach the stand with the wind direction in the face to prevent human scent from drifting into the area where deer will be approaching when hunting. Other factors for the proper entrance route are walking on a quieter surface, such as a road, creek bed, or bare dirt. The more the hunter can walk without being heard, the less likely deer will be alarmed, causing them to flee the area. When walking to my stand in the morning, I allow myself time to get there quietly. One factor in helping to go to the stand is knowing where to travel in the dark. I do not want to make unnecessary steps or noise because I don’t know exactly where I am going. I use the Muddy Outdoors Remote Beacon Illuminator to steer me in the right direction to prevent getting off course. The Remote Beacon Illuminator is a multidirectional green LED light that attaches to the treestand. With the aid of a compact remote, the hunter can signal a flashing light from up to three hundred yards to help locate their stand early in the morning.

Proper Stand Approach

In the ideal condition, I prefer my stand approach to come in on the backside. I try not to cross or walk in the areas where deer will be approaching my stand area when I am hunting. I attempt to keep the wind in my face and stay hidden from any deer in the area. Using the terrain and structure such as trees or brush helps to keep the hunter concealed and from being silhouetted by deer in the distance.

Planning Leads to Success

Planning out an entrance and exit route must start when hanging stands before the season. After scouting has been done and a stand sight has been selected, think about how you will enter and exit before hanging the stand.

A month before my home state of Missouri’s opening day of last year’s firearms season, I hung a Muddy Odyssey XTL ladder stand near the edge of a narrow pinch point that separated two large stands of timber.  I found a grown-up fence row that led within a few feet of the tree where my stand was hung to make the set better. When the opening morning of the Missouri firearms began, I eased my way down the fence row to stay hidden and climbed into my stand approximately an hour before the first shooting light. When the light started to build across the open field, I caught a glimpse of a nice ten-pointer who was cruising across the open area in search of a hot doe. After a quick minute of watching the buck through my scope, I was able to squeeze the trigger and make a successful shot at a mere fifty yards. Within the first few minutes of legal hunting light, I had a mature southern Missouri whitetail buck on the ground.

Just as my late veteran co-worker had always told me, this was accomplished by easing to my stand quietly an hour before hunting.

Manage Your Scent

After a stand approach has been planned, stands are in place, and it is time to hunt. There is one last measure to take to ensure a smooth entrance. That step is to remain as scent-free as possible. As mentioned earlier, the approach must always be with the wind in the face when walking. However, as a bit of insurance, it is necessary to use scent elimination products as well. I wear carbon-based clothing that absorbs and prevents odors in conjunction with Scent A Way Laundry Detergent. After dressing in the field, I spray down my complete body, feet, and hunting gear with Scent A Way odorless spray. By spraying down last, I am confident I will not leave any odors along the path to my stand that could spook deer.

By paying attention to details such as where to hang stands, wind direction, subtleness, and scent control, you will have assembled the perfect combination to a practical stand approach. When all these factors are considered, deer feel less pressure, keeping them on their natural travel routes, making them easier to pattern when hunting.

 

Holiday Gift Guide for Deer Hunters

The Deer Hunting Holiday Gift Guide You Need

Each holiday season, people spend an awful lot of time pondering what to get for family members and friends. While it’s good to be thoughtful about gift ideas, the process will be a lot easier when shopping for deer hunters if you use this holiday gift guide. And if you’re a hunter, feel free to nonchalantly leave this Christmas list somewhere your loved ones will notice it. Whether you’re looking for some new items for deer camp or simply want to add some new hunting gear to your collection, there are some great ideas in this hunting gift guide.

1. Pole Saw

For those with land to manage and tree stands to move around, having the right tools makes a big difference. Whether you have a limb blocking a shot from your tree stand or you just need to clean up some trees while doing timber stand improvement projects, the Muddy pole saw is the perfect companion. Its dual-purpose design allows you to use the serrated blade for larger branches and the pruners to cut smaller ones.

2. Trail Camera

Is there such a thing as too many trail cameras? We don’t think so, which is why it deserves a spot on this holiday gift guide. The Pro-Cam 16 Bundle provides everything you need to quickly put it out yet this winter or save it for next spring. Either way, the 16 MP camera takes great pictures or videos and the invisible flash doesn’t spook deer. This is a great hunting gift idea.

3. Shooting Bench

Having a sturdy and well-made shooting bench is important for sighting new rifles in or just plinking practice. The Extreme Shooting Bench has a steel benchtop and comfortable, padded seat, and the seat and top can swivel independently or in tandem. The rubber molded gun rest will keep your firearm sturdy and keep you on point. The bench is equipped with some interchangeable accessories, such as a gear hook, gear basket, and cup holder.

4. Safety Harness

If you’re willing to consider items on a holiday gift guide, there’s a reasonable chance you love the person you’re shopping for. What better way to show that than get a new safety harness for them? The Ambush Safety Harness is weighted for 300 pounds and should be used every time a hunter leaves the ground. As you do your holiday shopping, keep their well-being in mind.

5. Camera Accessories

If the person you’re shopping for wants to start filming their hunts, consider getting them a critical self-filming accessory: a camera arm. The Basic Camera Arm is a great introductory option for people to start filming their hunts. It is fully adjustable and has a quick-release mount to make things easier in the tree stand. A camera arm is a great gift idea for hunters.

6. Shooting Rail

When you have to shoot a rifle from a tree stand, it helps to have a shooting rail to keep you steady and improve your accuracy. The Muddy Universal Shooting Rail attaches to any tree stand setup and adds a layer of stability to help in that critical moment. This makes it the perfect tree stand accessory.

7. Seat

If you prefer to hunt from blinds (whether on the ground or in a tower stand), it can keep you more comfortable in different weather conditions. But to stay comfortable all day, you need a good seat. The Swivel Ground Seat is reasonably packable at only 15 pounds, and swivels 360 degrees so you can make the shot when needed. Since most hunters tend to opt for a 5 gallon bucket, this is a sure hit on this holiday gift guide.

8. Hunting Blind

If a swivel seat will impress, imagine their surprise if you got a new hunting blind for them. The VS360 blind sets up quickly and can fit a couple people comfortably. It has large windows with shoot through mesh and includes brush strips so you can quickly brush it in and disappear. Including hunting blinds on your holiday gift guide will quickly make you #1 on their list.

9. Game Cart

Depending on where you hunt and how close you can approach your hunting location, having a good way to get the deer out of the woods is an important consideration. The Mule Game Cart allows you to haul a 300 pound deer easily and the rubber coated handles make it more comfortable and ergonomic.

10. Lift System

Once you get a deer, it’s nice to have an easy way to lift it up to allow for easier skinning and butchering. The Magnum Lift System has a weight reduction pulley system to lift up to 500 pounds easily and by yourself. It has an automatic self-locking system to stop once you get to the height you need the deer.

bow hunting deer hunting plot | Muddy Outdoors

How to Plant a Hunting Plot for Bow Hunting Deer

Bow Hunting Deer Made Simpler with the Right Food Plots

Do you know the absolute best way to guarantee you’ll see deer from your bow hunting tree stands this fall? Alright, we don’t either. If someone knew that, they sure aren’t sharing it with anyone. But there is one method you can rely upon to increase the attraction of your hunting area, particularly as it applies to bow hunting deer. The simple trick is to set your deer stands in strategic places near hunting food plots, or plant these hunting plots near a great tree stand.

How To Plant Fall Food Plots | Steps To Create A Hunting Plot
Fall is on its way, now is the time to follow these steps on how to plant fall food plots and hunting plots.

 

That sounds simple enough. So where do most hunters go wrong? There are usually two culprits for this problem. One, the food plots or corn/bean fields are usually too big or too exposed to really hunt effectively without spooking game animals (especially whitetails) from them routinely. The second issue is that tree stands are often hung in places that might offer great shots, but they can’t be accessed without alerting deer to your entry and exits. This is pretty much a no-win scenario for eager bow hunters. Let’s look at the right way to use food plots for bow hunting deer below.

What is a Hunting Plot?

bow hunting deer hunting plot | Muddy OutdoorsA hunting food plot is different than a large agricultural food plot in a few ways. Hunting plots are small in size (i.e., less than ½ acre) to make sure you can kill a deer from anywhere within them. Your deer hunting stand locations should be in strategic places that work well for ambushing animals. And they should usually be planted in highly attractive food plot species, such as brassicas, peas, annual clovers, or cereal grains. This combination makes them perfect for bow hunting deer.

Size is important for these plots, as anything over ½ acre really limits your ability to shoot across them with a bow, unless your food plot is a narrow and winding lane. Their small size also means that you should be able to sneak into and out of your tree stands for bow hunting, since the chance of running into a deer is slim in a smaller area. One way to further sweeten a plot is to add a mineral site nearby. They should be tucked into tight cover to allow you to stealthily approach and stay concealed while in your hunting tree stands. Last, the species you plant are important. For hunting plots, you want your plot to be the most palatable and attractive food option in the neighborhood when archery season opens. That means quick-growing (usually annuals), highly digestible, protein- and carbohydrate-packed species like those listed above.

How to Plant a Food Plot for Bow Hunting Deer 

Now that we’ve defined what it is you should aim for, let’s talk about how to make a food plot. First, you’ll need to find a spot like we described above. It could be a small woodland opening, an old trail, or a brushy corner of a larger agricultural field. Whatever works for your plan of attack. Then you’ll need to clear the existing vegetation using chainsaws, brush saws, mowers, weed-whippers, and/or herbicide. Make sure to leave a fringe of cover around the edges, if possible, and definitely don’t remove potential trees for bow hunting deer out of!

After you clear the area, you have a few options. Depending on how much soil is exposed, you could simply rake the area clean of leaves and debris, burn the residue off, or simply disc everything under (a garden rototiller works fine for such small plots). Once the soil is exposed, you could test it using a soil testing kit from the store to be most accurate. Or for these small plots, you could just wing it. It will almost certainly need some lime or calcium spray to raise the pH of the soil, and you should also scatter a couple 50 pound bags of general 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 fertilizer to raise the nutrient level. Then the really fun part begins.

Whether you plant the species we mentioned above or do your own homemade food plot mix, it’s important to consider when to plant food plots. If the archery season opens in late September, but you don’t plan to be bow hunting deer until mid-October, time your planting to be at peak attraction when you’ll physically be out in the woods. How? Look at the days to peak maturity on the seed you’re planting, and count back from the day you’ll start hunting. That will give you the earliest time you should plant your hunting plot. You can plant them a little later than this date too, as young plants are very attractive, but the plots may be over-browsed quickly due to their size. Using this strategy, you can really produce some quick and easy food plots for hunting.

Where to Hang Your Best Bow Hunting Stands? 

bow hunting deer hunting plot | Muddy OutdoorsNow the third piece of the hunting plot puzzle; where should you set up your bow hunting deer stands? If you planned the shape right, there should be a suitable tree standing in heavy cover within 10 yards of the edge of the plot. You don’t want it right on the edge so that it completely sticks out, and that’s also where the heavy cover comes into play for camouflage purposes. You’ll want to be able to sneak into the plot quietly using a cleared access trail, and then silently climb into your stand to hunt mornings and evenings.

The Muddy Outdoors Sportsman lock on stand is perfect for this setup. Then in the early afternoon hours of your first hunt, you can hang the Sportsman tree stand and get comfortable. The seat flips back so you have full use of the platform to have a steady bow stance.

Conclusion

While there’s no way to absolutely guarantee you’ll get a Pope and Young buck while bow hunting deer in these plots, using this method will substantially raise your hunting effectiveness. And that’s at least something to celebrate.

Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds Preparing for Next Season | Muddy Outdoors

Tree Stands and Ground Blinds | Essential Preparation for Next Season

Spring Maintenance for Deer Tree Stands and Portable Ground Blinds

Hunting stand and blind maintenance is an afterthought for most hunters after the completion of a long deer season. Hunters are often preparing for spring gobbler or dusting off their trout rods for opening day in anticipation of warming spring weather. Spring, however, is an ideal time of year for revisiting your hunting spot and either removing or inspecting your tree stands. Take this break between outdoor activities to return to your tree stand locations, pull and/or inspect stands or prepare your pop-up ground blinds for turkey season or storage until next deer season.

Pulling Portable Tree Stands

The first thought before engaging in any activity involving hunting stands should be safety. Always approach climbing into your stand the same way, whether for a day long hunt or spring removal, safety first using proper safety belts and harnesses and general awareness on what you are about to do. Don’t take anything for granted, even ladder tree stands have risks associated with climbing and removal.

Portable stands, like hang-on tree stands and ladder tree stands, are best maintained by removing them after each hunting season. Not only does pulling your tree stands reduce weathering effects from temperature and precipitation but in some states it is illegal to keep your hunting stands on public grounds after each season. Having the stand on the ground gives you the opportunity to completely evaluate and repair all aspects of your stand and tree stand accessories such as climbing sticks or shooting rails.

Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds Preparing for Next Season | Muddy Outdoors

Maintenance Activities

  • Visually inspect your tree stands for signs of metal fatigue like stress cracks, especially in older stands.
  • Check each nut and bolt, tighten (or replace if necessary) any that may have loosen from use.
  • Proactively fight rust by priming and repainting areas showing signs of rust or parts that have been nicked or scratched from use to prevent further damage.
  • Examine cables, straps and pins for wear. Replace stand straps as needed or based on manufacturer recommendations, which is typically every two years.
  • Care for seats by checking for rips or tears. Cushioned seats are notorious for animal damage and wear faster than unpadded nylon seats.
  • Clean dirt and debris from climbing sticks, shooting rails or other accessories before storing.
  • Check safety systems for wear. Most harnesses have a lifespan of 5 years and should be replaced if older or if showing signs of wear that may impact performance.

Although safety is the most important reason for checking your hunting tree stands, maintaining stands also helps to improve your hunting experience. Rusty platforms and ladders along with loose bolts create noise that could be the difference between a successful hunt and one that sees your trophy running the other way as you move for a shot. Squeaks and other noises can be detected in stand and noted or attach your stand a few feet up in a tree at home. Move around your platform, lift the seat up and down and use the shooting rail to identify areas of noise and treat with a lubricant where applicable.

Parts that need replaced should be done with replacement parts from the manufacturer to preserve operating capability. Certain parts have specific specifications for their use and are designed for safety, using other parts may reduce safety or stand performance. Even the best hunting tree stands have a life span. Repairs can only go so far, know when a stand has exceeded its life, retire it and purchase a new one.

Neglecting Permanent Hunting Tree Stands

We all have it, our favorite deer hunting tree stand in that perfect location that you hunt year after year. Or perhaps it is a tried and true permanent stand along a field edge. Unlike portable tree stands, these stands stay out year round and often get overlooked when it comes to maintenance yet they still require upkeep to ensure safe hunts. Visually inspect for sturdiness on ladders or steps, rust on metal platforms, missing or loose bolts at connection points or worn strap on trees. Store any seats to prevent weathering or animal damage and loosen straps to allow for tree growth over the course of the growing season. Note any maintenance issues, acquire replacement parts and repair as needed so each stand is prepared for the start of next season. It is also a good idea to re-check permanent hunting stands prior to hunting the fall season to tighten straps and confirm the stand is safe and ready for your next hunt.

Ground Blind Preparation

Blinds like The Redemption Ground Blind by Muddy Outdoors are becoming more and more popular each season with hunters. Although constructed of durable, long lasting fabric these modern hunting implements still require care after each season and are often overlooked. Check tie down ropes as well as the shell itself for any signs of wear. Deer only blinds should be cleaned with a damp rag to remove dirt and grim from outdoor exposure and stored in the carry bag until next season. Prepare those that will be used in spring turkey by wiping down and checking that internal frames are fully functional.

Muddy Outdoors | Redemption Ground Blind Hub Style Set Up
(Video)- The Redemption Ground Blind by Muddy Outdoors is constructed with durable, long lasting fabric, and has extremely easy set up for reliable and portable use.

Secondary Benefits to Stand Maintenance

Unless you will be pulling your stand and opting for a new setup in the coming season, spring can be an opportunity to enhance your hunting location. The lack of vegetation gives you the same prospective you will see hunting in the fall. Take advantage and trim existing shooting lanes or create new ones by removing branches or small trees that may impeed future shots. If a portable hunting blind is more to your liking, make sure setup locations are free of debris and clear shots are available from all shooting windows. Be sure to preserve a balance between shooting lanes and concealment. Completing these activities in the spring also eliminates additional work, scent and disturbance in the critical weeks leading up to deer season. All that is left is a few snips on any new growth when you return to hang your stand or place your blind.

Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds Preparing for Next Season | Muddy OutdoorsShooting lanes are important but don’t forget about entry and exit points to your hunting spot. While pulling you stand or checking your set location, trim your trails. Clear fallen branches from winter and widen trails to avoid scent and noise that may spook game as you enter and exit during hunting season.

Reflect on the past season and determine if that tree or blind location is the best spot for success. Perhaps there is a better tree or setup based on your hunting experiences last season. Spring gives you the flexibility to analyze slowly and make decisions without the added pressure of deer season approaching and the stress of late summer heat and creepy crawlers.

Tree stands and hunting blinds are a tool and like any tool they require maintenance to perform as designed. Post season, spring-time is a great opportunity to get into the woods again. Revisit you hunting stand locations to remove and maintain your portable stands, check your permanent stands, care for blinds and spruce up your hunting locations, all in preparation for future successful and safe hunts.