Choosing a stand location can be a near impossible decision — especially if you don’t have a clear-cut primary option. In a time such as this, you’re almost left with an impossible decision on where to sit for the hunt.
Don’t let it get to that point.
Data is your friend when it comes to choosing a stand location. Prepare. Look at it. Analyze it. Make it your friend. If you decide to get nerdy with it, you’ll start having more success. And you’ll start killing more deer.
Here are certain types of data to keep an eye on.
The Weather and Wind Directions
Weather is important. Weather dictates what deer do, and they’ll choose bedding locations based on whether it’s hot, cold or in-between. For example, deer seek out either open or thermal bedding cover based on temperature.
Wind is also a factor — even more so than weather. Most of the time, bucks will bed down with the wind at their back. They’ll choose beds that allow them to watch downwind with their eyes and their rear with their nose. Knowing this helps choose a stand location.
Historical Weather and Wind Directions
Don’t just look at current wind and weather. Look at the historical data, too. Observing, matching it up to past sightings, trail camera images and filled tags can help you know when and where to hunt certain stand locations.
I really like to study trail camera photos from past seasons. Doing this will show you what parts of properties are best and when they are so. It also shows you when specific bucks tend to show up during the season. You can use this information to potentially predict what a deer will do this season before it does it.
Current Trail Camera Intel
This one is obvious. But studying current trail camera images should be on everyone’s to-do list. It can shed light on where a buck’s home range and core area are located. It also shows daylight activity, too — which is what makes a buck killable. You can also learn a lot about a buck’s personality — especially with video. The more you know about its personality, the more clues you have on how to put it in the back of the truck.
Journal Entries and Observations
For those of you who write down accounts of your hunts — use that. Going back and looking at journal entries can help you learn a property, when the rut occurs in your area, and much more. It might even shed a few clues from past encounters of a buck you’re chasing this season. Take advantage of the work you already put into your hunting notes.
Your Past Kill Dates
Looking at past kill dates can oftentimes be random, useless information. But not always. The kill itself isn’t important. Instead, it’s everything that happened during that hunt that is important. Remember the phase of the rut, whitetail behavior, bedding locations, feeding patterns and much more. Translate that into what it might mean for your hunts this year.
Charting It All on Maps
If you’re chasing a specific deer, take everything we’ve mentioned above that pertains to that buck and chart it all on an aerial map. Use one map for every year of history you have of it. Plot data points of daylight encounters and trail camera photos with dates, times, wind directions, weather, direction of travel and anything else you have. Study all of the data once it’s drawn out before you and you’ll quickly see how the deer is using the property if you didn’t know already.
All of these things are useful when choosing where you should post up. Use all of that to determine when, where, why and how you should make your stand. Make it happen. Deer season is waiting.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.