Top 3 Stand Locations to Focus Your Early Season Hunting
Bow hunters are beginning to get restless now. August has filled their memory cards and dreams of velvet bucks growing even more anticipation. Bows are tuned, broadheads screwed on, and bow hunting gear is organized. September and October are here, the season is upon them, and for many there is just one or two pieces of preparation left on the to-do list. Final hanging of stands is one of them, and the most important by far. The question is…where will you sit on opening day? If you don’t have an answer, it’s not too late. Here are three of the best stand locations for early season bow hunting!
Before stand locations are discussed it’s important to go over all the considerations a bow hunter needs to take into account. This includes scent, wind, stand entrance and exit, and the biggest of all, hunting pressure.
The key to remember is do not over pressure deer and do not let yourself become over-pressured. This can be brought on by the upcoming rut, in which you feel you might lose your buck to seasonal movements or in the worst case scenario your neighbors bow! It might also be brought on by Facebook! Yes, Facebook posts of friend or TV show hosts slamming big whitetails just days or even hours into their season! Try to stay focused, do not panic. There might be a feeling or need to get more aggressive, trying risky tactics, or getting in to close to bedding areas or feeding areas. It’s vital to not rush this, take it slow, letting yourself become over-pressured will cause you to over-pressure your deer and that will create a very real need to panic.
The early season tests the abilities of bow hunters. The early season humidity and thermals work in favor of a deer nose, your worst enemy. Your scent control techniques, attention to wind and thermals are critical to bagging a buck with a bow. With all this taken into account you can begin to decide where to hang stands, and the routes you will take into and out of the stand. You also need to consider abandoning morning hunts completely. Keeping the pressure off deer in the morning will already add to the more likely successful scenario of an afternoon hunt. Consider this and keep it in mind when considering these three stand locations.
#1-Summer Forage Stand
Some states have season openers early enough to still catch bucks in the summer patterns, the “bed-food-bed” cycle. Bachelor groups are still together and on the verge of splitting up. Scouting bean fields or other summer forages during August can clue you in on a buck’s core area. Placing a stand on a funnel into or on the edge of a summer food source around this core area will be your first real chance at filling your tag. These are the situations where bow hunters score a big buck on the days or even hours after the opener.
So why is this type of stand so effective?
If you scout right, and with minimal pressure, the bucks you’re chasing have been unpressured for several months. This allows them to be available for harvest during the daylight hours. Again if you watch your scent and wind, entrance and exit then you are left with a very real chance to be tagged out the first week of the season.
#2-Staging Area/ Small Food Plot
Beans and other summer forage crops may appear to be a big part of a deer’s diet, but the majority of a deer’s diet is what you’re not seeing them eat. Natural forage in the form of forbs and woody browse species are extremely nutritious during the summer. This is why the number 2 stand location is small openings of “natural food plots” and small food plots. These small plots filled with natural species or planted with clovers or fall food plot mixes make for perfect staging areas to catch a buck during daylight hours.
As the first week or two of the early season passes, bucks begin to fell more pressured, cutting their daylight activity short. Instead of appearing in a large food plot an hour before dark, they will not work their way out until well after dark. A smaller food plot or natural opening will act as a staging area in which bucks will be more apt to show up before they make their way into the larger food plot.
#3-Hard and Soft Mast Stand
When the bachelor groups split up, leaves begin to turn, and acorns fall…your bow hunting can become extremely difficult or particularly successful. It all depends on your situation. White oaks and red oaks both drop mast in highly variable locations across the hardwoods. Persimmons and other soft mast are also dropping around this time, turning the once patterned buck into a seemingly nocturnal ghost. All true unless you use them to your advantage.
By unrolling a map and identifying terrain features, matched with bedding areas, funnels, and areas you know with a lot of oaks or persimmons you can find out where you might be able to catch a buck cruising the timber in the daylight hours. Putting a lot of hours in the stand on a white oak flat or field edge with numerous fruit bearing persimmons can’t put a buck in range. Hunting acorns and other mast during this time period is your last real chance of catching a buck before the rut.
There is no doubt about it, the early season is tough on bow hunters. The summer long anticipation is met with unsatisfying evening hunts and it’s a slow time to be in the stand. During this time it’s important to keep your head and not make mistakes. More importantly choose the best stand location for your situation. Choosing one of these three early season bow hunting stands will.