The time for caution has come to an end. Deer season is now measured in hours instead of weeks. If you want to fill a tag, it’s time to get aggressive. Here are three stand setups to do just that.
1. The Morning Bedside
If you follow commonly accepted knowledge, late-season hunts should take place in the afternoon near a primary food source. That’s all well and good, but you’re running out of time and need to make something happen. You do that by taking advantage of every minute of legal hunting time—and mornings fit that description.
Position your stand in the heart of a primary bedding area. I’m talking about that thick, nasty cover that holds the bulk of the deer. It’s the place you would never go most of the year because the risks outweigh the rewards.
But with time about to expire, you have nothing to lose. This is a great time for a hang-and-hunt using a lightweight hang-on stand. Climbers can work great as well if the bedding area you intend to hunt has suitable trees.
An early arrival is a must. You have to beat the deer to bed — and you must avoid spooking them out of the food source on your way in.
2. The Midday Escape Funnel
Again, we want to take advantage of every minute of available hunting time, which means not wasting the midday hours. One option is to grab a buddy and work a wind-bump of prime bedding cover. Take a climber to a funnel on the downwind side of a bedding area. Once you’re in position, your buddy begins a “coordinated bump” toward your position. This isn’t an all-out push, mind you. The idea is for the walker to keep to the upwind side of the bedding cover, allowing his scent to penetrate the cover. This should get deer up on their feet and slipping out the back-door funnel…right to where you’re set up.
3. The Decoy Dupe
Hunting ag fields is a great tactic when the weather turns cold. Standing crops are best, of course, but those will be few and far between now. Harvested fields will still draw plenty of deer, but picking out the animals’ exact point of entry can be tough. However, have you ever noticed how deer seem to all congregate in the same area of a field? And that the gathering place seems to be established by the first deer to enter the field?
Start by hanging a stand (or using a climber) on the edge of a food source that gives you maximum shooting options and a favorable wind. Next, employ a couple of decoys. Doe decoys are a safer bet than bucks, but I’ve used a pair of does and a smaller buck with success as well. The goal is to create the illusion that deer have already entered the field and are feeding in an area — just make sure to set the decoys up within easy shooting range. —Tony Hansen
About the Author: Tony Hansen manages for and hunts mature whitetails in his home state of Michigan, where sweating the details is the only way to succeed. When not hunting his own properties, he can be found pursuing deer on public land throughout the whitetail’s range. Tony’s writings have appeared in Outdoor Life, Traditional Bowhunter, North American Whitetail, and Bowhunter.