Preparing Your First Stand Hunt

Preparing Your First Stand Hunt

Jul 7th 2023

Treestands get you off the ground so that you have a much better view of what's around you. Additionally, stand hunting provides shortened shooting distances and excellent concealment while hunting. Getting up to 16 feet above a deer is a distinct advantage many hunters enjoy, but what if you're new to stand hunting?

Feeling nervous and possibly overwhelmed is expected when you get your first treestand or start researching it. Don't worry, that's natural, and we're here to give you some expert tips to make you feel more at home when preparing for a stand hunt.

Practice and Safety First

It's well worth it to set up your stand, put on all the gear you'll be taking, and practice setting up your stand and getting into and out of it.
Start with your stand only a few feet off the ground. Use all of your safety equipment, even two feet from the ground. Being intimately familiar with your safety gear is crucial as it can save your life. You can also quickly find out how loud or quiet you are going to be while getting in and out of your stand. Try and identify any sound your gear will make and learn which part of your practice, climb, or equipment will need work or special attention.

Additionally, it is essential for safety checks and ensuring you can set up your tree stand safely, as well as learning how to ensure each safety strap is appropriately affixed. Speaking of safety, always wear a harness. There is no reason you should compromise your safety or health.
Reducing noise while climbing into your stand and getting comfortable is essential. Take the time to understand the small details, such as the need for a hook for a bow if you're archery hunting and a hook for your backpack of gear—otherwise, you may be forced to hang either on a climbing stick. Hanging your gear or weapon where you must strain to reach it can make it difficult and noisy when the moment arrives.

Speaking of practice, ensure water is another vital part of your gear. There's nothing worse than setting your stand up, checking straps, climbing up as quietly as possible, setting up, and realizing you've nothing to drink or will now have to climb back down to grab your forgotten water bottle.

Proper Stand Site

Once you're confident about your noise level and setup, choosing a proper stand site is an invaluable skill to learn. An appropriate site of stand begins with structure and understanding your game. For example, as with most animals, whitetails travel from place to place using cover and terrain to their advantage. Recognizing these transition areas, access points, and travel corridors in your game travel is essential to help you choose the perfect spot.

One of the first things you can do to find the ideal spot is obtain aerial photos, satellite images, or a topographical map of the area you're thinking of hunting in. One of the second crucial skills you'll need to learn is recognizing funnels on a map.

A funnel (sometimes called a "pitch point"—though they aren't quite the same) is where animals congregate to move from point A to point B. A funnel can be anything from a large area at the bottom of a hill with drainage where animals visit from all directions to a small covered rise near a feeding ground. A pitch point is more or less the end of that funnel, a more precise location where most of the animals travel once they've entered a funnel.

How can you identify these on a map? You're looking for the 'path of least resistance.' Like us, when we walk in the woods, animals will also try and find paths that circumvent rough terrain, allowing them to preserve precious energy. Animals will always take the easier route if possible.
Setting up your stand in a funnel or a pinch point can be nearly invaluable to your hunt.

Wait For The Right Conditions

Many of us only get so many days to hunt each season between work, home, and other responsibilities, so getting lost in the eagerness to head out after the job can be easy. Don't let yourself get lost in the excitement. There are several things you need to consider before gearing up and going out:

  • What's the wind direction?
  • Is the thermal in your favor?
  • What's the barometric pressure?
  • What's the weather? Deer may not have smartphones to track it, but they can sense it, and their sensory organs are far sharper than ours. Feeding during that calm is a priority for all wildlife if a low-pressure system is fast approaching. For example, the final two hours leading up to rainfall and immediately after can showcase tremendous deer movement. But hunting in the rain has drawbacks to comfort and the risk of blood trails washing away.

The Right Tree and Height

Take advantage of any cover a tree might provide you to break up your silhouette. While you should place your tree stand as high as possible without limiting your shooting opportunities to see the deer better than the deer can see you, you have less camo if the tree is bald. Pick a tree with:

  • Course, gnarly bark for ease of climbing
  • Thick and sturdy from the trunk to about 20-25 feet in the air.
  • A tree that has grown relatively straight.
  • Many hunters prefer white and red oaks or pine trees for their straightness and cover. But remember that pine trees have soft bark that tends to peel away during climbing.

Don't forget your creature comforts if possible. If the weather's cold, wear more layers than you need. If the weather's hot, ensure you have plenty of water and are wearing breathable, moisture-wicking clothing—and bring snacks and entertainment. Avoid crinkly and loud wrappers for your snacks because if you think it sounds loud in your home, it will be even more audible in the woods.

Never, ever skip maintaining your tree stand. A rusted, worn-out joint or a pivot point that binds can create unwanted noise. Stands left unattended can be nibbled at by squirrels or stolen by thieves, and the weather can wear it out so much that it becomes a safety hazard.
Lastly, don't rush. Like all hunting, setting up for your first sit is a process and rarely goes smoothly without the proper prep. It is always better to be overprepared than under.

Items Selected