Stand or Sneak?
to a mile in the woods, usually in the thick stuff. Most evenings they commuted to the field. I suspect they stayed in or near the field through the night, because the deer I’d see in the mornings were usually headed back into the woods.
Once I’d learned the general pattern, I kind of played with it, setting my stand in different places and hunting at various times.
I saw plenty of deer, and what impressed me most was that they were less creatures of habit than creatures of tendency. They tended to and from the field, but that’s about all I could predict about them. The deer didn’t always use the same trails, for example, and they traveled at different times. Sometimes they were in groups, and sometimes they’d be solo. They also moved at different speeds, poking along one day and rushing as if late for a meeting another day.
I saw the most deer from stands anywhere from 100 yards to a quarter-mile from the field. When I set up right at the field edge, the deer seemed to arrive too late or too early, and they seemed really “edgy.”
Another drawback to field-edge stands is that I was too close to where they were when I was leaving or arriving. Deer aren’t dopes. From the field, they can hear a hunter climbing into a nearby stand or climbing down from it. They might not know it’s a hunter they’re hearing, but being naturally cautious, they might avoid areas that generate unusual noises.
Even when I set up away from the field, I made a point of approaching my stand from the field side in the late afternoon for an evening hunt and from the woods side for a morning hunt; I left the stand heading the opposite directions. That way I was always approaching or leaving from where I figured the deer weren’t.
They often “made” me anyway. That’s the only way to explain why I generally saw more whitetails when I put the stand in a new place but fewer the more days I hunted from it. The deer either whiffed my “perfume,” or spotted me moving my head or hands.
Something About Sneaking
It’s hard to spend long hours in even the most comfortable stand. When I’ve got a whole day to hunt, I usually plan to sit early and late and sneak in between. In fact, it’s while sneaking that I