By Nathan Unger
Each summer, as hunters, we’re often faced with the conundrum of where to place our deer stands for the coming deer season. Deer stand locations are important because it could be the difference between harvesting that big whitetail you’ve been dreaming about all summer long.
Hunters have to ask themselves a few questions before they set up stands:
Should I place a stand where I’m seeing summer bachelor group bucks?
Male whitetail home ranges can vary drastically once their velvet comes off and their testosterone level increases. Bucks will move from food-to-bedding patterns in the summer to looking for and chasing does in the fall.
These deer stand locations will account for some of these changes in home ranges, and will ultimately lead to success will a little bit of buck luck.
Find the food
The first location that will be good for the entire season is on the edge of a food source that is downwind of a bedding area where it funnels into that food source. This could include a food plot or a crop field.
If your state has an early bow season this could still be highly successful under the correct weather and pressure conditions in the early season as bucks are still easily patterned. Likewise, if the bedding area is a doe bedroom those bucks will be cruising all around during the rut and into December and January.
This is probably my favorite set-up because it’s good all year long.
The key? Early season scouting before dark or with trail cameras to see where the deer are entering the food sources to help narrow down which tree to precisely put a stand in.
While some of this terminology may be more familiar in the western states they can still be applied in south where I do most of my hunting.
There have been several times that I have bumped deer because I thought there was no way they would be located on a certain hillside or in a certain ravine, but over the years it seems as if they prefer certain terrain to better smell approaching predators.
Funnels are a specific point where several paths intersect that deer prefer to travel because of terrain features or obstacles.
The key? Make sure your stand is on the downwind side of these funnels and that you’ve done your research on where that buck is traveling from.
A lot of times that mature buck will make a ‘J-hook’ to sniff out the area before entering a certain location. Oftentimes this is specific to bedding, however deer don’t always follow the rules.
These can be successful during the rut primarily as bucks are chasing does and can be careless from time to time especially if the wind is in your favor.
These unique, topographical ledges are exactly what they sound like. Imagine a hillside being the backboard of a bench and the seat being an off-shoot of that hill. These off-shoots are some of mature bucks favorite bedding areas because they can see anything coming from below them and smell anything coming from above them.
Numerous times have I gotten too close to these areas and bumped deer because they caught my scent. Setting up a stand on the downwind side of the entrance to these benches will be great sites to place a stand.
The diagram above highlights food sources, “F”, bedding areas are marked with a purple circle,”X” marks stand locations and the purple lines are streams running through the property. The three X’s that are immediately adjacent to the red borders are the funnels specific to this property where the terrain or stream forces deer into this specific location.
The X’s that are not located on a food sources or immediately next to the red border are benches where the deer will sometimes bed or travel in between food sources or bedding areas.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. By no means is this a one-size-fits-all formula, but for the majority it will lead to hunting success this season.