My Mid-Summer Thoughts
You’ve done your homework all summer with unlimited hours of scouting and running multiple trail cameras. You have several nice bucks hanging in and around your property and you know that you have the perfect stand location for an early season evening encounter. You get the perfect wind, so you head to the woods plenty early and get situated in your stand. When that magic hour comes, you can’t believe it, but your due diligence paid off and one of your target bucks is coming in just like you had hoped. All is working perfectly as you come to full draw, two more steps and he’s in the shooting lane. Just one more step and you’re looking at a grip and grin photo session with a taxidermy bill to follow. The time is now and… Your stand creaks ever so slightly and the hunt is over. You get the white flag bounding over the hill and you feel sick to your stomach. Off-season stand maintenance was overlooked, but this scenario could have played out in several different ways as well. I’ll mention a few things that sometimes get overlooked and can make or break a hunt.
It takes minimal time to do this but it’s very important. Go through all of your bolts to make sure they’re tight. If you have nylon washers, replace them if necessary. Check over the platform cables and be sure your straps are in good shape.
In 2019, this should be an absolute must in your set up. A safety harness and a lifeline will truly save your life. There are plenty of videos online that will help familiarize you with the proper technique on how to safely use this equipment. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how good of shape you’re in, accidents happen and hunting without this equipment is too big of a risk.
This is completely up to each individual but there’s a couple of things to consider. Hanging a stand too low without good canopy cover to hide behind will get you busted pretty easy. Not only are you closer to the ground but any movement made by you can get you picked off by deer in the distance as well. Hang a stand too high and you may be shooting at too extreme of angles depending on the distance between you and your quarry. Again, this is up to the user, but a good height range is 16’ – 22’.
When to Hang
The best time to hang a stand has many different deciding factors. Here in Nebraska with a September 1st opener for archery season on deer, I’ve always strived to have stands hung by mid-July or early August at the latest. Depending on whether you’re hunting a new property, or you’ve been hunting the same property for years, this changes. Private or public land changes this as well. The old adage of “The first sit is the best sit” holds true, so with that being said, a lot of guys are changing to a hang and hunt method. They like being mobile with a stand always on their back so that they can move to any location they feel fits as the season progresses. Some guys are starting to hunt out of a saddle as well. This makes you extremely mobile without the weight of a stand. I’ve never hunted this way so I can’t share much on it, but I’m intrigued.
How many times have you been in a hurry to get stands hung because it’s hot out and you just want to get it done. You get your stand hung and you quickly trim a few openings for shooting lanes and call it good. The AC in the truck feels awesome and you feel satisfied on the drive home. Until the scenario in the opening happens and the only shot you have, you can’t take because a 1” branch is covering the deer’s vitals. Take extra time while you’re there to be sure everything is done right the first time.
Hunting out of a blind seems to be catching on more and more, especially with the number of different box blinds available today. While hunting deer out of a tree stand affords you a great view, there are many benefits from hunting out of a blind. I’ll start with kids. It’s been written many times but it’s true. When you start introducing kids to the outdoors and taking them with you on hunts, a blind offers the luxury of not getting busted by movement. Blinds allow a kid to move around and that stems off boredom if you’re not seeing much for game. This goes for introducing beginners to hunting as well. They haven’t learned the importance of staying still yet, plus it’s easier to get them set up instead of introducing a tree stand 20’ off the ground right away. A blind also offers warmth in the late season by implementing a heater or just being able to get out of the wind. Again, different scenarios will decide your set up when it comes to hunting out of a blind. If you’re on public ground, a box blind is not an option and depending on your state regulations, you may not be able to leave a ground blind on the property. In that case, you’re probably either carrying a pop-up blind in with you on each hunt or you could build a natural blind out of downed timber. Either case, properly brushing your blind in is important. You don’t have the luxury of leaving a blind in place and letting the deer get accustomed to it, so you need to take a little time and do a good job of brushing it in to blend with the surroundings. On a natural blind, build it well enough to conceal you while leaving areas open to shoot from.
On the private ground, the best part is being able to leave the blind in place for extended periods of time. Whether using a pop-up blind or an elevated box blind, if you set them out early enough, the deer get used to them being there. It’s up to you to place them where you have great entry and exit routes so that you can enter and exit undetected. The deer may be accustomed to the blinds, but it only takes one time of getting busted entering your set up, and deer may steer clear for the rest of the season.
Broadheads can become a hot topic in a hurry.
You may as well bring up politics, as you’ll get the same kind of heated conversations. But that can make for some good hunt camp debates as well. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to change your setup, it’s easy to go down several rabbit holes and put way too much time into deciding what to shoot for broadheads. Items to consider are FOC (front of center weight), head weight, mechanical, fixed, design, sharpness, reliability and so forth. There is a ton of info out there on all of these variables, but I would suggest that if you don’t have a good grasp on how all of this information comes together and works, it may be best to go to your local pro shop. Start by telling them what kind of weight you’re looking for in an arrow and speed you’d like to achieve. They will be able to steer you in the right direction from there. I have started taking some speed out the equation and opting for a solid heavier arrow. In my opinion, this will make for a quieter bow which will also give me a pass-through shot more times than not.
Also, if my shot isn’t perfect, the heavier arrow gives me a better chance of good penetration. While I’m shooting a mechanical head, some animals may require a fixed head. For the sake of deer hunting, a quality mechanical head will work great but so will a fixed head. This is truly a decision only you can make. Knowledge comes from shooting your equipment. Just as shooting your bow every day allows you to fine-tune it and become very proficient, shooting your broadheads routinely does the same thing. Shoot multiple heads out of your setup and you’ll be able to make some educated decisions. I’ve chased this rabbit down several holes this year trying to decide what head I was going to shoot. In the end, I chose a different mechanical at a heavier weight. I spent way too much time coming to this decision though, so again, starting at your local pro shop and talking through your setup and your desires can save you some heartache and get you dialed in on a quality setup quicker.