Ready to Hang Stands?
5 Mistakes You DO NOT Want To Make.
If you are like most hunters across the country, you likely hunted some during the late season and even more likely noticed a few trails or bedding areas you thought would make a nice place to hang a stand. Before you could get back out to move or hang a new stand, life moved on and drug you with it. Winter turned into turkey season and before you knew it the dog days of summer arrived and made being in the woods less than enjoyable. Now opening day of bow season for some states is less than 60 days away and the deadline to get stands up and leave them along for a while is officially here.
Sound familiar? (it does to us too)
Here are 5 simple mistakes to avoid when you are hanging stands in the summer.
1. Ignore Safety
Tree Stand Safety has improved by giant leaps and bounds over the last 10 years (maybe even the last five). Hanging from a ladder or branch to get a stand buckle connected is just inexcusable and unnecessary today. A tree safety rope (like the one shown in the video) can easily be attached to a tree at the bottom and moved up the tree as you climb or hang sections of the ladder. Pair the tree safety rope with a safety harness designed for hanging stands and you have effectively ruled out the possibility of falling while you hang your set. Hunter Safety Systems introduced the Hanger Harness a couple of years ago and it has become a staple tool for many whitetail hunters across the country. A harness with pockets and hooks for all of your steps, straps and stand accessories that makes climbing and hanging stands much safer and infinitely easier.
According to the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation, 85% of all hunters who suffered injuries from a tree stand fall were not wearing a harness. A safety harness while hanging a stand, hunting from a stand or removing a stand is essential piece of equipment and should never be left at home. For more information on tree stand safety, visit treestandsafetyawareness.org.
One last thing to mention. For those of you who believe you are safe and unable to fall because you hunt from a climbing tree stand. . . think again. 25 percent of all falls were from a climbing style stand. Even though the stand itself can surround you and the idea of falling seems unlikely, straps and tubing breaks, bolts come unscrewed and arms can and do break.
Wear your harness, install a tree safety rope and STAY CONNECTED!
2. Hang em’ too high.
The obvious mistake some hunters make is to hang their stands too low. It may feel high when you are hanging it, but once you climb down and realize you can touch the platform from your tiptoes, it probably needs to be moved up. However, the youth of today’s hunting world (a product of the alleged “old and wise” of the hunting world) believe bigger, longer, faster and of course higher is always better. We are here to tell you, that’s just not the case.
It’s easy during the early season to hang a stand a little too high because the canopy of the trees and all the foliage may throw you off. It’s easy to think once the leaves drop you will be left hanging out in the open and easy pickings for a cruising buck to pick off. The problem we have seen on our own hunting leases, is that it is hard to decipher what limbs are coming from what trees. Here is what we mean. Once you are up past 25 feet in mature timber, the canopy is actually made up of the limbs and foliage from several trees. The problem doesn’t show up until the leaves start to fall and you see a limb from a different tree is blocking your lane. Now you have two choices, move your stand down or around the blocking limb or climb the other tree just to trim a lane. Either option requires a good deal of work, noise and stinky sweat.
The other problem with hanging much past 25 feet is that you have changed the angle of the shot dramatically. When a deer passes within bow range, your shot has become much steeper and your window of opportunity for a double lung shot has diminished. A good rule for most instances, is to buy a 30 foot safety rope and don’t out climb it.
3. Overtrim. (You can always trim more later, but you can’t put it back!)
One bad cut can ruin the tree you need to be in. Remember that. When we hang stands in July or August, we try our best to not trim much at all. As long as we can climb in safely and have a pretty good idea of what it will look like in the fall, we will save our trimming for then. Everyone likes to see deer, we get it. Seeing does and young bucks are what keeps us in the tree long enough to be there when a shooter wanders by. But, you have to be careful not to open up a window so large, that when you get to your tree in November you aren’t sitting out in the wide open. We have also been guilty of trimming limbs or branches that really didn’t have any effect on shooting lanes. How can this happen? Easy, you may have to trim a branch to climb up and once you get up you realize it was a great piece of cover. Before you do any significant trimming, take a step back or better yet, move to where you think deer may appear and take a wide angle look at your setup. What does it look like to you? What might it look like to a deer?
4. Hang it like it’s the final spot.
If you can keep this one in mind, it may help with the last two we have listed. The fact is that the sign and pattern you observe in July or even early autumn won’t be the pattern you see during most of the hunting season. The best you can really hope for is to get close to where you need to be, but understand that you are likely going to move that stand at least once. Everyone reading this has hung a stand they thought was in the perfect tree only to have deer move past you just out of range or remain hidden behind some other tree or thicket. Every hunting lease is different and this rule moves way up our list on a new lease. If you are hunting the same hunt lease every year, you should have a good idea where the movement occurs. Those of you hanging a stand for the first time on a lease? Not so much. Take a nice easy walk into the timber on an obvious trail. Pick a good safe tree that might not require much, if any trimming and hang a set there. Just plan on moving that set once or twice before you are in the exact ambush spot you need to be in.
5. Access may be King, but Egress needs love too!
Look at any aerial of your hunting lease or a new farm and your eye immediately jumps to where you might hang a stand. Your next thought is how can I get there when the wind is from the . . .? You start turning the map around in your hand and imagining different winds and the best way to access that area. All good thoughts and all very necessary to putting deer on the ground. What happens when that field fills up with deer though and they are now between you and your truck? Deer learn our behaviors and our patterns. You may sneak into the perfect spot, but once the deer pour in and you are left with no choice but to bump them out of the field as you leave, how long do you think they will tolerate that?
When you find that tree that is just begging to be hunted, work through how you will get out of that tree and back to your truck or lodge without spooking game. Maybe it’s something like an old creek bed that you can slide into behind your tree and take a long walk around avoiding the field altogether. Of course, sometimes you are left with no real alternative to spooking deer. When this seems to be the only choice you have, you can get creative. A coyote howl can clear a field in a hurry and since the deer hear it nightly, they aren’t likely to change their pattern. Deer are spooked far more by a person walking on the ground than they are farm machinery. If you have a buddy that can pull into a field and shine his/her headlights in your direction, this can clear things out while you make your escape.
The key to hanging a stand is too take in the whole picture. Try not to become too focused on one thing like height or cover and ignore something important like safety or egress. Remember, several things have to go right to harvest a deer, if just one thing isn’t quite right or out of place, it can derail your whole hunt.