Deer Hunting Basics
may find deer scat, which looks a lot like chocolate-covered raisins, rubs and scrapes (see sidebar on page 23), signs of browsing and cozy places in the leaves or grass where deer have lain.
For hunting, position yourself downwind of a well-used deer trail or, better yet, an intersection of busy deer trails. In the fall, winds often blow from somewhere between north and west on cool days and between south and west on warm days. Taking your stand somewhat east of the trail, then, would keep your scent from deer most of the time. However, there will be exceptions. Scent also has a tendency to move up a slope in the morning and down a slope in the evening.
The distance you set up from the trail will depend on your weaponry. Bow hunters should try to remain within 20 yards of a trail. Muzzleloader and shotgun slug hunters can move out to 50 yards or so and a rifle hunter can move back even farther. Every stand position involves a compromise between how much you'd like to remain hidden from the deer and how well you can see the trail and have a clear shooting opportunity.
Taking a stand for some simply means sitting or leaning against a tree and waiting. Many hunters bring cushions, stools or chairs into the woods to make sitting more comfortable. Hunting on the ground is easy and secure. Look for a place where natural elements, such as brush, tree trunks or branches, break up your silhouette. Also make sure you clear leaves from the immediate area so you don't crinkle them at an inopportune moment.
Although they are more difficult to put up and relocate, tree stands improve a hunter's ability to see deer and shoot deer. You can choose from climbing stands, ladder stands or stands that use cables or chains to hold them to the tree. Permanent stands attached to trees with nails or screws are not allowed on public property. It's still important to conceal your silhouette when hunting from a tree stand.
The Art of Waiting
Being able to sit still for a long time must be learned. You'll find your ability to remain on stand increasing through the hunting season.
Some hunters pass the time observing nature. Others read a book or magazine. A few fall into a state resembling sleep, underscoring for all of us the need for a safety belt when hunting