Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Change Your Bow Hunting Locations More Often

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Ever wonder why your ground blind or tree stand doesn’t pay off like the other guy’s stand does? The answer may be more simple that many hunters realize.

It’s human nature. Many hunters fall in love with their opening-day ground blind or tree stand because they’ve thought about it for months on end.

One of the simplest things to do is to have more than one stand location. Take a page from the pros, and change your hunting location. Learn to play the wind, and try not to hunt the same spot two days in a row.

Some sportsmen get lazy and fail to erect more than one tree stand or to have more than one ground blind. Keep returning to those same locations, day after day, and the deer will pattern you rather than you doing it to them.

Every stand, especially in thick cover, should have at least two, and having three entrance and exit trails, is best. Why, you ask? The answer should be obvious. A hunter can walk in to the stand one way, and leave my a different trail. Each time you hunt that particular area, vary your routine.

I personally dislike sitting in the same stand two or three nights in a row. It has paid off for me several times when I’ve used the utmost skill to get in and out without spooking the deer. It once paid off with a big 8-pointer, but use extreme caution under such conditions. Spook a deer one time, and chances are great that the buck will not return that way again this year.

Does a suspected hotspot get hot on opening day? Perhaps it will and maybe it won’t. Much depends on wind and weather conditions, and sadly many people don’t play the wind properly. They also make the mistake of going there too often while conducting their preseason scouting. Visit any stand too often before the season opener, and it’s possible to blow that stand before you hunt it for the first time.

The major problem hunters face is setting all of their stands for the prevailing wind direction. During Michigan’s bow and firearm deer seasons, the prevailing direction is south and southwest in October, west to northwest in November and northwest and north in December. Om recent years the October winds have been from the south or south east in many parts of the state.

So here is this hotspot stand and it’s all set up for opening day. It has the stand downwind for a south or southwest breeze. Good thinking! Come Oct. 1, Joe Hunter has been thinking about it for weeks and plans to sit in the stand and shoot that deer he has patterned. He quickly gets busted by a deer that is paying more attention to the wind that the hunter is.

It’s easy to advocate having stands in key hunting locations for an east wind, but it’s sometimes quite difficult to find good spots where it will work.

Most bow hunters, like me, prefer hunting out of a tree. One way to get around this problem is to hunt from an elevated coop. Keep the windows closed until it’s time to take a shot. It’s certainly not like being out in the breeze, and feeling the wind on your nose or cheek, but it allows a hunter to effectively hunt when bad winds blow.

A choice can be made. Hunt from an enclosed coop or don’t hunt. To hunt out in the open when the wind is wrong simply courts trouble. It often spooks deer from the area.

The best way is to look at how deer travel, especially on an east wind, and locate that one key spot where whitetails filter through. Try to be downwind of the whitetail traffic, and don’t move.

Fishermen have long known that angling success often takes a nose dive on an east wind, and deer hunters - especially bow hunters - know the same often holds true for them under similar conditions.

I’ve long known that an open tree stand may cause your scent to drift to the deer when the wind huffs from the east. An enclosed and elevated wooden blind with shooting windows can save the day.

One thing is certain. The hunter who deliberately puts himself upwind of deer on an east wind will probably ruin that hunting spot for the rest of the season unless he can prevent deer from smelling him. A simple V-shaped wooden structure, and forced down between two limbs with just enough room to shoot, gives the hunter something to stand on. It can work if a box-type blind is not available.

Just try to stay downwind or at least crosswind whenever possible. Hunting on an east requires some checking around, some good luck, and the ability to pick the ideal tree. It’s not easy, but good thinking and proper placement, can make the hunt work.

If an east wind blows on the opener, and your stand is not placed properly for that wind, it’s better to sit out the day than to risk spooking all the deer from that location. Once deer are spooked from your hotspot stand, the odds are that they either won’t roam past that site or will approach it with a great deal of caution.

So try to be a savvy hunter. Play the wind like a fine violin, stay away from the stand during the off-season, have at least two stand locations and never discount the ability of a whitetail deer to pick up your scent.

Posted by Dave Richey on 07/15 at 03:20 PM
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