For most midwestern deer hunters, those magical days of late October and early November mean the mature bucks will be on their feet. The days leading up to the peak rut offer the best chance of the season at a nearly nocturnal buck. And when it comes to these monarchs, a lot of the time, it happens the middle of the day.
Dedicated hunters take advantage of this extra movement by staying in the stand all day during the rut. But staying put all day takes some planning. These tips will help you stay comfortable and alert so that you are ready when that big buck comes cruising by.
1. Stand Placement
When hanging your stands for an all-day hunt, take a bit of extra time to make sure everything is level and solid. Avoid any knots or forward-angled tree trunks or branches that might cause your stand to sit in an uncomfortable position. What might just be a minor annoyance on a three-hour hunt can become downright painful after 10 or 12 hours. A level platform increases your accuracy when bowhunting and allows you to maintain proper form when bending or twisting to make the shot, too.
If the seat on your stand is uncomfortable, look for an aftermarket replacement seat or pad that you can add. A hard or pinching seat will cause you to fidget and move more often, increasing your risk of spooking nearby deer. The Millennium Cold Weather Seat in Realtree Xtra adds both insulation and cushion to make your all-day sit easier and more comfortable.
3. Add Storage
If you are going to sit in a stand all day, you are going to need a few things. Keep your gear handy and at arm’s reach by adding bags to the rails of your stand. Many treestand manufacturers produce bags specifically to fit the seat frame or shooting rails of their stands. If you can’t find one, just rig up a large daypack to hang from your stand within easy reach. The less you have to move to grab needed gear, the lower the chance of getting busted by a mature buck.
I don’t know about you, but I get hungry, and thirsty, when I hunt all day. Pack along a few snacks to keep you full and alert all day. Find a quiet spot to test the wrapper of your choice before your hunt. If the wrapper sounds loud when you open it in a quiet room, it is going to sound thunderous in the woods. If your preferred snack is too loud, open it at the house and stick it inside a zip style plastic bag before you leave. Same with water bottles. Thin plastic crackling in the woods isn’t a natural sound. Use a heavy plastic water bottle with a screw-on lid to hold your beverage of choice.
5. Dress for Colder Weather than the Forecast
All it takes is a brief shower and a slight breeze to cause a chill when you are perched high on the side of a tree. Dress in an extra layer. You can always take it off if you get warm in the midday sun. If you have a long hike to your stand, keep your extra clothes in your pack until you get there. Working up a sweat will chill you as fast as a rain shower, and cause additional odor to boot. When the weather is particularly cold, keep a few disposable instant heat packs with your gear to warm up cold fingers or to place inside your hat to warm your head.
Screw in a couple of EZ Hangers when you get positioned. That way your bow and binoculars will be near your hands when you need them. Just like with the storage bag on your stand, the less movement, the better.
7. Get Down
Just because you plan on hunting all day doesn’t mean you have to sit in the same spot. If you have been in your stand all morning, don’t be afraid to get down and do a bit of scouting or still hunting midday. A short walk will get your blood flowing, loosen stiff joints, alleviate boredom, and leave you refreshed and alert for the afternoon sit. And you just might luck up on a monster out cruising for does that you never would have seen from your stand.
If the weather is particularly bad, or if there just isn’t a suitable tree where you want to hunt, then set up a ground blind. Blinds keep you out of the elements, allow you to move around more freely without being seen, and let you do things like eating without getting busted by the buck that picked that moment to cruise by.