When you think about it; the old business adage “location, location, location,” also applies to deer hunting. Without question, where and how you hang your treestands can make or break your next hunt. The sweet taste of success often comes down to a matter of inches, feet and yards, especially when you’re hitting the woods with bow in hand. Fortunately, there are some things you can do with your setups that will ultimately help stack the cards in your favor. Here are some hard-hitting treestand setup strategies and tactics for hunting funnels that are designed to keep you inside and in range of an antler-rich environment this November.
Exploit Big Buck Funnels
Consequently, funnels are one of the few things in the deer woods that are consistent and reliable. Overall whitetail behavior, daily patterns, and routines are constantly evolving throughout each transitional period of the season. Hunting pressure, alternating food sources, weather conditions, and the current phase of the rut all have the potential to completely disrupt and change big buck tendencies and patterns. Most of these factors are out of our control, which makes it tough and extremely challenging for hunters to choose the right setup and treestand location.
However, deer have to move in order to reach feeding areas, watering holes and secured bedding locations and to escape hunting pressure. Dominant bucks also have to travel to find, chase and breed estrous does. Deer on the move are somewhat more vulnerable, if you know how to exploit the right spots. Red-hot funnels include wooded bottle-necks, cliff-lines, gaps, saddles, shallow-water creek and river crossings. You also shouldn’t overlook pinch-points, fence lines, or narrow strips of timber and brush-choked ditches that connect open fields or agricultural plots to woodlots and thick cover.
Make The Right Choice
Funnels are usually not too difficult to locate, but hunting the right one at the right time can be a little more challenging. The trick is to match funnels with current deer behavior and patterns. For the most part, finding funnels that are positioned between a preferred food source and adequate bedding cover is your safest bet throughout most parts of the season. Whitetails have to eat and bed on a daily basis and mature bucks are no exception to the rule. Once again, the key will be to pinpoint the primary food source during the time that you’re hunting. It’s important to note that these feeding areas will change as the season progresses, which means you have to be able to quickly adapt.
In order to choose the most productive funnels, it’s important to extensively monitor all current food sources. Find out which feeding areas big bucks are routinely using and then locate nearby funnels that connect to possible bedding areas. Game-cameras that are equipped with a hybrid daylight time-lapse and nighttime trigger detection mode are perfect for scouting large open food sources like agricultural fields and food plots. After zeroing in on the preferred food source, strategically position additional units over any and all funnels in the area that lead to possible bedding locations. This is the fastest and easiest way to choose the most productive ambush points.
Consequently, these same methods will also work throughout each transitional phase of the rut. The only modifications you need to make are to shift your focus toward primary doe feeding areas and funnels that lead to doe bedding areas. When dominant bucks are cruising, chasing or breeding, you have to concentrate and key-in on the ladies and where they hang-out. Once again, monitoring these primetime sites with multiple game-cameras will show you exactly when, where and how to hunt a particular funnel.
Have Multiple Options
After you’ve chosen the best funnels to hunt, it’s not a bad idea to setup multiple treestands in each area to account for varying wind directions. A Hang-On Stand placed in accordance with the dominant wind direction is a good starting point, especially if you also have a good climbing stand to accompany it. A lightweight climber that’s easy to transport and ultra-quiet when climbing is a must have, because it enables you to be mobile and provides multiple options to account for any and all wind directions.
Thoroughly scouting these funnels and pinpointing suitable trees to attach your climbing treestand to will help keep you in the action regardless of what Mother Nature throws at you. Next, be sure to mark these trees with light reflecting tacks or tape to make them easier to find before daylight. Pre-cut all shooting lanes and thoroughly clear out entry and exit trails to these trees well before the hunt. Following these steps will allow you to quietly access and effectively hunt each funnel ambush point without any problems. Good Luck & Good Hunting!