TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST MORNING IN THE DEER STAND
By Bill Miller
Are you having a hard time sleeping yet? When you sleep, are your dreams about the first opening day of deer season you’ll be in the stand? It’s almost here!
Hopefully you have family members or friends who are helping you prepare for the hunt, but even if you do, they might forget to tell you a thing or two. Or you might encounter something no one anticipated on opening day! Who knows? The unknown is part of what makes hunting so exciting.
To further fuel your dreams and to help you overcome any unforeseen challenges, here are a few tips that every deer hunting rookie (and many veterans) should try to remember for that first morning in the stand.
DON’T GET HAPPY FEET
Your best odds for seeing deer and getting a shot are from a well-placed hunting stand. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a treestand, shooting tower, ground blind, or just an upside down bucket backed up against a big old oak or cedar. You or your hunting mentor(s) chose this spot for a reason—maybe trail camera photos of a big buck! There will likely be long stretches during which you’re not seeing deer, but that’s normal. Keep your confidence. Don’t wander away. If you do, it’s almost certain that big buck will show up when you’re gone.
Keep the ear buds out and the electronics turned off. Deer are wary animals—they must be to survive in the wild. They use all their senses to detect danger, so you must use all your senses to spot a deer as it ghosts through the woods. If you’re engrossed in texting your friends or playing games, a big buck might walk right by and you’d never see him!How bad would that be? There are a couple of exceptions to the “no electronics” advice: 1) Set up “check-in” times when you’ll text your hunting companions to let them know you’re safe. 2) If you want to have an e-reader with some good books in it, that’s a great way to keep you in the stand during the slow times, but always read a page then scan the woods; read a page then scan the woods.
STAY WARM, BUT NOT TOO WARM
Chances are you already know exactly what you’re going to wear for your first opening morning. It’s smart to plan ahead and prepare to stay warm when you’re in the stand. Getting cold is the Number One reason any hunter leaves the stand too soon. However, you shouldn’t put all your hunting clothes on at camp or even for the ride or hike to your stand. There are two reasons: 1) Any time your clothes are out and exposed the air, they are collecting odors that could alarm deer. 2) If you ride in a warm vehicle or exert yourself getting into the stand you can work up a sweat. Once you’re sweaty, nothing can prevent you from being cold until all that moisture is gone. By dressing in only the bare minimum of clothes you need and keeping your descented outer clothes in an air tight container, then putting them on at or in the stand you’ll stay scent-free and warmer—both good things! Be sure to layer your clothing carefully so you can put on more when you need to stay warm and take some off when you need to cool down or exert yourself. Under Armour has clothing systems that do it all! They are built for layering and control scent through high-tech fabrics.
WEAR YOUR SAFETY HARNESS
This is the most important rule of all! It’s the one that will make it possible for you to hunt again whether you’re successful on opening day or not! If you’re hunting from an elevated stand of any kind, you need to wear an approved safety harness. There are far more and more serious injuries caused by hunters falling from treestands than there ever were from firearms accidents. Before you climb into an elevated stand, be sure you have a safety harness and know how to use it. A rope tied around you and the tree is not good enough. If you are climbing anything but a solid set of stair steps to get into your stand, you should use a climbing safety system, too.