Patience While Stand Hunting

Only 30 minutes of patience was required to take this buck.

Patience is good while stand hunting…up to a point. Patience can also make you waste time at unproductive stand sites, eliminating chances to take deer (mature bucks) elsewhere. Nothing, not even patience, improves stand hunting success more than taking quick and quiet advantage of fresh deer signs…up to a point. Yes, this sounds like gobbledigook, but let me explain.

Back in the old days using one stand site per hunting season often worked, but not today unless you are willing to settle for an inexperienced fawn or yearling. Today, sitting at one stand site throughout a hunting season can soon become a dreadful waste of time. Whether using an elevated stand or a ground level stand site, within the first hour to three continuous half-days of hunting, today’s mature stand smart whitetails will almost always discover and identify you, more especially while you are approaching your stand. After that they avoid you. In my deer camp, our buck hunting rule is this: if you stand hunt within easy shooting distance of very fresh tracks and or droppings made by an unalarmed mature buck for a half-day but don’t see that buck, unless it was windy, stormy or unseasonably warm, that buck likely discovered you with or without your knowledge and it is already avoiding you. Unless we have a very good reason for thinking otherwise, we therefore change stand sites every half-day.

Where do we stand hunt next? Depending on wind direction (we always approach stand sites from downwind or crosswind and never cross feeding areas), during the first two days of a hunting season we hunt each half-day at different stand sites selected near where lots of fresh tracks and droppings made by mature bucks were found while scouting 2–3 weeks earlier. After that, we stand hunt wherever we discover new very fresh tracks, droppings and/or other signs made by unalarmed (not trotting or bounding) mature bucks — found while hiking non-stop (non-stop doesn’t frighten unseen nearby deer) between 11 AM and noon along deer trails previously selected for rapid mid-hunt scouting or while hiking non-stop to and from stand sites. A new discovery of very fresh signs made by an unalarmed buck often induces us to change our minds about where to hunt next. We call quickly deciding where to hunt next based on very fresh deer signs, “opportunistic stand hunting.” We never stand hunt where there are no very fresh tracks and/or droppings made by an unalarmed mature buck within easy shooting range upwind or crosswind. While stand hunting in this manner (five hours of planned patience per half-day of hunting generally adequate) — made effective by using a silently backpacked stools and ground level cover that hides our silhouettes and motions — no buck can endlessly avoid us unless it abandons its range or becomes nocturnal which doesn’t often happen where all hunters are stand hunters (like where we hunt).

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