Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Approach is Key to Stand Hunting Success
By Bob Humphrey
We were lucky. There was just enough wind to cover the sound of our approach as my son, Ben, and I neared our ladder stand. Each time the air stilled we stopped; and each time it stirred we eased forward. Ben ascended first, lowered a rope and hauled up his empty rifle. Then I carefully inched up the ladder as he loaded.
It was 45 minutes later when we heard a stirring in the tall grass below us. A buck, which was bedded less than 100 yards away suddenly rose up, stretched and headed our way. There was no need to rush, and Ben waited until the buck had closed to within 60 yards and turned broadside before taking the shot.
It was a very short afternoon hunt. Scouting, patience and diligence played a part. But the singe most important factor to our success was approach. Surprisingly, it’s something often overlooked.
All experienced hunters know the importance of wind direction when deciding where to set a stand. But many of those same hunters fail to consider it when it comes to how they approach that stand. Wind direction is just important, if not more so when going to (and from) your stand. Even if you must travel some distance, you want to alert as few animals as possible to your presence. If possible, travel with the wind in your face, If you can’t, try to at least avoid getting upwind of bedding or feeding areas that may hold deer as you approach.
The second mistake hunters often make is approaching their stand carelessly. We all do it. You’re in a hurry. It’s early and the deer aren’t moving, or you just aren’t thinking, so you rush to reach your stand. And on the way, you bump a deer. Maybe you don’t even realize it.
Think about it. You put that stand there for a reason: it’s an area used frequently by deer. Why then are you surprised when you jump deer on your way in? Next time, stalk your stand. Approach as if you expect to find a deer when you get there. Even if you don’t, you’ll alarm far fewer deer, especially those nearby.
Another common mistake is always taking the same route to and from your stand. As alluded to above, you should consider the wind and vary your approach as required. But you should try to vary it even with the same wind. No matter how conscientious and quiet you are, you still make noise and leave scent. And deer quickly learn to pattern you. Break up your routine and it just might give you an edge.
If you want to be successful, you’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile, both figuratively and literally. Approach your stand slowly and cautiously. Always consider the wind, and try to vary your route. When the wind is wrong or the cover too thick, you may have to travel well out of your way to reach your intended destination. If the area has trails, consider riding around the perimeter on your ATV and approaching from the back. Put in the extra effort and you’ll soon find it’s worthwhile.