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Days in the Deer Stand: Quality vs. Quantity

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Is More Always Merrier?

Which side of the fence do you sit on? (Brad Herndon photo)

To many, the old sayings “bigger is better” and “more is merrier” don’t always hold water. In most ordinary walks of life, sure, they probably do. But there’s nothing ordinary about deer hunting. It’s a dynamic creature of a lifestyle that demands the utmost planning and strategy. So for today’s thought — the pros and cons of the number of days in the treestand vs. the quality of those very same sits.

When it comes to deer hunting, there are two types of people in the world. First, you have what I refer to as the particularized hunter. He (or she) is a very up-tight individual. They tend to plan everything out at least a week beforehand. Definitely Type A individuals. They strategize down to the very degree of angle of which their $576 8-pound climber should be positioned. This hunter might even religiously brush his or her teeth with baking soda. And they may or may not puff a cloud of wind checker every 30.7 seconds during the hunt.

The other type is a little more frivolous in their ways. I call them the debonair deer hunter. This hunter is more worried about fitting a bag of Fritos into his or her fanny pack than a grunt tube. They typically don’t check the weather or wind. And when they do, it’s usually because they're more worried about smelling the big dairy farm across the road, rather than spooking deer. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not raking this cat through the mud. They’re very serious about their deer hunting. But it’s just not as much about the detail to them. It's solely about the experience. And that’s okay. We all have our own ways.

Quality

As you might guess, the particularized hunters are the "quality" guy. They’d much rather wait for the right conditions and hunt two days than to hunt every day for a week straight during poor conditions.

Those who feel this way tend to believe you risk pressuring deer when hunting on days that aren’t ideal. They also believe the hunt is a waste of time because chances of seeing deer in daylight are too low and the risks of unnecessarily pressuring deer are too high. The risk vs. reward just isn’t there for them and they’d rather wait until the right time, leaving the deer unpressured and wary-free until that time comes.

Quantity

On the flip side, and unsurprisingly, the debonair hunter doesn’t agree with the particularized hunter. My experience hunting with them (and my own hunting decisions) leads me to believe they often feel the more times you sit in the treestand the better the odds. If you can sit that oak stand long dubbed as “The Killing Tree” for a week straight, odds of killing just absolutely skyrocket.

Hunters who find themselves setting at this end of the table certainly believe that the best way to improve your odds is to spend more time afield. After all, it increases the likelihood of crossing paths with a big buck, right?

And Then There’s the Other Guy

As you might have concluded, my descriptions of these two types of hunters above were somewhat exaggerated. But the essence of the story still holds true. (And we writers have to have a little fun every now and then with our wordcraft, eh?)

That said, I’ve thought long and hard on this topic. And I’ve often struggled as to which side of this fence I find myself on. I definitely understand the restraint needed to hunt high-odds days. You don’t want to alert a deer to your presence before you even have a real shot at killing it. Adding unnecessary pressure is certainly a mistake we should all strive to avoid.

On the other hand, I also understand some of which the quantity crew argues. Logistically speaking, more days in the field should lead to higher odds of crossing paths with a whitetail. It makes sense.

But it’s not that simple . . . Nothing about deer hunting is black and white. And no two situations are ever the same. That’s why you must discard the two words “never” and “always” from your deer hunting vocabulary. Why you ask? It’s simple, really. Like you and I, every deer has its own personality. And that’s why I’m “the other guy,” or a combination of the first two.

As for me, I do try to hunt — especially my best spots — sparingly. Adding unnecessary pressure can be disastrous and there’s no since in pressuring a particular spot if the odds of killing from that stand location are minimal right then. That said, there’s nothing stopping you from hunting another location that holds more promise and offers better opportunities under the circumstances at that time.

Even so, as I think back to many of the bucks — and does for that matter — that I’ve killed throughout the years, it comes as somewhat of a revelation realizing that many of those bucks were a product of the quantity theory. As some of my biggest bucks were killed only because I was willing to sit the same stand for several (three to seven) days in a row. The kicker — some of them were even killed on less-than-ideal days when those with great conditions yielded few results. It’s very true that these encounters and examples could be the exception and not the rule. However, the data can’t be ignored. And it says sitting in the same stand location (especially during the rut) for several consecutive days can pay off in inches — lots of inches.

All in all, I find myself in both corners. I believe hunting smarter is better than hunting harder. But there’s something to be said for hunting hard, too. As previously mentioned, read each individual situation you find yourself in as an independent one and make decisions accordingly. No two bucks are alike in the way they act and behave. We have to remember that when we hunt them.

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