Climb Your Way To Deer Hunting Success

by Phillip Gentry

Upstate Outdoors
October 23, 2019 - 8:01 am
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If you were to survey any given piece of hunting property, there are always areas that cry out to be hunted.  The majority of the times, these areas are soon saddled with a permanent hunting stand -be it a ladder stand, box stand or other permanent fixture. The hunter may even be successful in taking one or more deer from that stand during the following season or it may be one of those rare stands that produce deer every season, but the reason that site was chosen is most likely because it looked good to the hunter, not because it was conducive to the deer.

In fact, studies have shown that mature, trophy bucks learn to pattern hunters better than the hunter patterns the deer and part of patterning hunters is learning to avoid permanent deer stand sites. These studies show that the best chance to harvest a good deer is by being unpredictable and catching that buck on his feet in an area he never detected or suspected. One of the best way to be unpredictable, undetectable, and get the drop on a trophy buck is to hunt from a portable climbing stand.

Kyle Clark, the owner of Doc’s Deer Scents, has been hunting and patterning trophy deer in various parts of the country for most of his life. Clark says several factors combine to allow the hunter to get the drop on a good deer, stealth, concealment, and being in the right place at the right time are all factors, and using a portable, comfortable climbing deer stand is part of that strategy.

Clark said stealth and the element of surprise work hand-in-hand with using a climbing stand. Once he has identified an area a trophy buck is using, whether from field scouting or based on an image captured on a trail camera, he prefers to stay out of the area until it’s time to hunt.

If he’s hunting before the rut, his preference is to find a travel route between bedding and feeding areas. He’s not looking for a wide open area and hoping on a chance encounter with the buck. He wants to be concealed and have a smaller window for the buck to detect his presence. Setting up on a travel route close to the buck’s home area gives him that advantage. He will check the wind, then pick a tree off the beaten path but within range of the trail, and climb it.

During the rut, Clark said all bets are off as far as patterning daily movements. He describes it as a free for all when a buck’s home range expands from one square mile to ten square miles. Being mobile is the key and a climbing stand provides him with that mobility.

Hunting from a climbing stand is similar to living in an RV,” he said, “ if you decide you no longer like the neighborhood or things change, pack up and move.”

Later in the season, Clark focuses on food sources, but keeps other factors in mind. By this time of year, hunting pressure is taking its toll on mature bucks and they will retreat to tight areas. Most times that means hunting extremely thick areas in proximity to a food source.

“At the end of the season, deer are on high alert. You don’t want to be hanging out in the open on a tree, looking like an elephant on a toothpick,” said Clark. “Make sure there’s some reasonable cover in front of you and preferably some thick cover at your back to help conceal you.”

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM or online at 1063word.radio.com.

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