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Willing to Move when Bowhunting
When deer tags are being filled, little thought or effort is given to improving an existing setup or expanding your knowledge of the surrounding areas. It is much easier to stay put and suck every ounce of success out of your spot while you can. We’ve all done it many times before. However, sooner or later the proverbial well is going to run dry. If you wait until that time comes before contemplating a move, you may find that your uncertainty about where to go, and where the deer have gone, will actually cause you to think you’re better off just staying where you are. It is an inconspicuous trap. But one that is definitely real.
Therefore, when it comes to treestand sites that consistently produce, try to keep a “never satisfied” attitude. By constantly looking ahead and staying on top of what is going on outside your deer hunting area, you can make the changeover to different treestand sites without losing precious deer hunting time or spooking game out of promising areas with “in-season” scouting.
Making Good Better
There are two situations tailor-made for moving your treestand to a new area. The first one is when you simply need to “fine-tune” what you already have. Such was the case surrounding the location briefly mentioned earlier. That deer hunter always had deer around him while hunting there. The only problem was the treestand fell short when it came to actually helping him fill his tag; a fact that didn’t deter him however, from hunting it over and over again.
So, why did he stay? It was pretty simple actually. You see, this particular treestand dangled just enough hope in front of him that it made him think moving would be a mistake.; sort of how a dirt farmer dangles a carrot in front of a mule. At any rate, he feared that moving would take him out of the game altogether. So, he elected to stay in his safe, familiar treestand. Eventually though, he came to recognize the “almost” theme surrounding the site and realized a change was long overdue.
One morning, while sitting in the treestand mulling over his options, he started to retrace all of the various routes that were being used by deer as they traveled through the area. He discovered that while a good number of routes came very close to his treestand (giving him hope), there was one location in particular that attracted a higher percentage of those routes. What set this location apart from all of the others was that no matter what course the deer were on initially, nearly all of them eventually ended up passing through this one area; located just uphill from the deer hunter’s original treestand site. This fact was evident in the deeply carved trail he found the very first time he moved in for a closer look.
Suddenly, the light bulb hovering over his head lit up. It all made perfect sense. The bench-flat, which bordered a known bedding area, provided the easiest means of travel through the otherwise steep landscape. It also held several live oaks that were dropping acorns like rain. In addition, it sat directly beneath a ridge-top saddle. Add it all up, and it was obvious why so many deer ultimately made their way through this area; regardless of which direction they came from or which direction they were going.
By moving a mere 75 yards, he turned what was once a promising treestand that never quite lived up to the hype, into one that consistently provides shooting opportunities. There is no doubt it is now a “killing stand”. If only he had made the decision to relocate sooner, who knows what might have happened with regard to the bucks mentioned earlier. After all, both made their way through this unassuming funnel prior to my move.
Playing Catch Up
The second situation conducive to changing locations, occurs when you miss your setup altogether. In other words, your chosen treestand site is a complete disappointment, nothing is going as planned, and you either move or wait around for a miracle to happen. Hopefully, you will choose the former over the ladder. But where do you relocate to? Well, that all depends on which phase of the season you are and how much post-season scouting you did.
For example, if it’s early season, then you may want to concentrate your efforts on food sources and the methods used for hunting them. Likewise, don’t neglect those less-than-glamorous watering holes, especially if the temperature is unseasonably warm. Fast forward to the rut and you should try to make your move based on what the bucks are doing. “Chase-phase” treestands located between bedding and feeding areas are always productive. As well as stands hung in thick, heavy cover during the actual “breeding phase”; a time when bucks are holed-up with receptive does and would like to avoid competing bucks. Lastly, if the deer rut happens to be coming to a close, revert back to hunting food sources as bucks will be attempting to regain much needed body fat that was lost over a long, tough breeding period.
Now, while those may sound like easy treestand alternatives on paper, you may discover that actually locating them once the season has started to be difficult and will strongly influence the chances that you will be playing catch up throughout much of the season. This is typically the case if you’ve neglected to conduct a significant amount of post-season scouting in order to pin-point such areas. That is why, even though you may finish the season hunting from a great treestand, you continue to look for a better one during the off-season.
Out On a Limb
Sometimes, relocating “on the fly” to an out-of-the-way spot is just the move you need to turn an otherwise fruitless season around. This happened to a deer hunter a few seasons back when he had acquired permission to hunt some new land and was having difficulty finding any action. After several unsuccessful hunts in typical whitetail stomping grounds, he decided to move to an area of the property that no one bothered to notice because it was the least likely place to hold deer. Quickly scouting the location, he found a potential tree and attached his treestand. Unable to hunt immediately, he vacated the area; eager to return the next morning.
At first light, a group of does slipped quietly through the timber, munching on the abundant acorns that littered the forest floor around the deer hunter. A few hours later, he watched as the morning sun glistened off the rack of an unsuspecting big-timber buck making his way through the ridge-top funnel. When he paused at 10 paces, the hunter made him pay for choosing such an obvious pinch point for his daily travels.
Without a doubt, the number one reason for his success that early November morning was not being afraid to move to a new area that he knew nothing about. Beyond that, locating pinch points within that area, and then hunting it as quickly as possible, both played a pivotal role as well. Often times, you have to evaluate what is happening in the present in order to find success in the future.
Whitetail bucks don’t always follow the script, no matter how badly we want them to. Likewise, regardless of what you’ve read in hunting magazines, or how many times a certain tactic has worked for you or someone else in the past, the methods we employ can certainly become stagnant from time to time. That is why it is important to occasionally combine off-beat tactics with your desire to move. There’s no question, the combination can be deadly.
Let it be known, it often takes a conscious effort on your part not to get too comfortable with any treestand site. It’s only human nature, or the nature of a bowhunter, to get attached to certain things. However, this sport tends to reward those who are willing to adapt to conditions that change from year to year, month to month, day to day, and hour to hour. If you’re going to adhere to that notion, then you simply can’t allow yourself to become satisfied with anything. In this case, the very tree your treestand hangs in.
Take into account the information covered here and then make your move accordingly. With any luck, you can skip the chapters of your season that contain heartache and go straight to the happy ending. You know the part where you reach down and grasp those antlers for yourself….instead of just seeing them every time you ponder what might have been.