Sponsored by: Robinson Outdoor Products
Since early man began hunting deer we’ve been trying to gain an advantage over their acute senses. Many hunters take to the trees each fall to elude the whitetail’s sense of smell and their suspicious eyes. Using a treestand certainly helps, but it isn’t the answer to everything. Man will never be able to beat the animal’s sense of survival, but there are a few tricks we can try to increase our odds.
Trick #1- Camouflage the treestand.
After that perfect treestand is hung, spice it up a bit. Try to find some brush or twigs to help conceal it. Grab old dead branches, cut small saplings, or even use trimmed material from a cleared shooting lane. Weave it in and out of the platform, and tie brush to the tree. Stick limbs and other natural camouflage in nearby branches. Anything that can be added to break up the hunters’ silhouette without interfering with a shot will be a bonus. The leaves on cut branches won’t stay green long, so it’s probably best to be a bit generous instead of conservative.
Trick #2- Keep it quiet.
They say the best lessons are born from mistakes and this is one of the best tricks I have! I slowly turned my head to see a slammer buck coming down the trail. While stealthily reaching for my bow, I heard a “SCRAPE” of the bark against my jacket! As the buck safely bound away, I kicked myself for not scraping the bark clean. Removing bark is always a great option when hunting is a shaggy tree, but it isn’t always quiet. Next time, bring a dark, long sleeve t-shirt to tie around the trunk, right above the seat. That way, any movement against the tree will be against the soft shirt, and not the rough, noisy bark. Be sure to generously spray the shirt with scent killer such as Ti4 Titanium. Also, wearing a quiet garment that won’t scrape against bark such as a Silent Shell Jacket could help tremendously.
Trick #3- Create a silhouette.
This is a trick that a buddy and I have agreed to try this fall. We are going to create plywood cutouts of a large human silhouette, with a head and shoulders, and paint them dark. We then screw the cutouts to the tree, above the stand. From our experience, when deer look up at hunters they are looking for a silhouette of something unnatural. If placed early enough, the “fake” human, wooden plywood silhouette should become accepted by the deer. Then, when hunting season rolls around, we’ll just go sit in the stand, in front of the plywood. We might be able to get away with a little bit of movement as well. It’s worth a shot!
Trick #4- Create range landmarks.
Well ahead of season, take out the trusty rangefinder and measure off several distances all around the treestand. With colored twist ties, flag tape, or something else visible, mark off 20, 30, and 40 yards. Use the same color tape for each distance. For instance, every orange tape means 20 yards. It’s always best to range the animal before shooting just to be sure, but in a “2-minute” drill situation, these premeasured distances will help. If the stand is freshly hung, be sure to range several trees before getting too settled in. I like to quiz myself, and confirm distances often just to keep them fresh in my mind.
Trick #5- Keep a mobile set.
Always be ready to hang and hunt. I like to keep a portable stand and climbing sticks in my trunk all season long. I never know when I’ll stumble on some fresh sign that needs to be hunted ASAP. If cost is an issue, use screw in steps and dust off that old stand hanging in the garage. Bring a folding camp saw to trim limbs and a rope to pull up gear. Be sure to not have any excuses when it comes to hunting fresh sign.
Solid Advice – How High to Hunt?
Many people think the higher the better when it comes to hunting out of a treestand. Although solid advice, it isn’t always the best. I prefer to hunt in trees where I will be surrounded by thick cover. I like teenage oaks, with limbs and leaves everywhere. Many of these young oaks have so many solid branches that they can be climbed without using a screw in step. Oaks are the last to lose their leaves and make a great home away from home for a fall hunter. Also keep in mind the higher we climb in a tree, the smaller our target area of vital organs becomes. Ground blinds and even pit blinds can become an option for a hunter committed to a certain spot that doesn’t have a cooperative tree to work with.
Stay scent free.
We’ve heard this advice a million times but it still rings true. We can all get better at our scent control regiment. Be sure to wash hunting clothing separate from your everyday clothes, and wash it in scent free detergent. Store it in scent free containers, and do not get dressed until arriving in the field. Take a scent free shower before hunting. Spray down everything, including equipment, with scent eliminating spray. Chew scent free gum liberally as well. Invest in high quality scent control clothing and care for it properly. Deer have concrete memories, and little patience for human interference. These scent control measures need to be taken any time we enter the field, from hanging a treestand, to checking a trail camera, to hunting. The deer do not know the purpose for our visits and don’t care. We sportsmen who live and hunt in the real world are dealing with animals that do not tolerate foreign odors well.
Too many hunters get hurt, paralyzed, and lose their lives each year due to treestand accidents. Be sure to purchase a high quality safety harness and use it properly. We all have loved ones at home depending on us to return home safe and alive. Don’t disappoint them by making a foolish choice.
This fall experiment with a treestand setup. Remember the basics of safety and scent control. To learn more about or purchase a Tree Spider safety harness, Ti4 Titanium spray, Silent Shell clothing, or any other ScentBlocker products, go to www.robinsonoutdoors.com. Shoot straight and have fun!