Hopefully, you utilized a good portion of the springtime to do your scouting and to pinpoint the best places to take deer on your property. But don’t prop up your feet and wait until hunting season or cooler weather just yet; your homework isn’t over. If you want an even better opportunity to take that monster buck, get out now and hang your rut stands early. It will be a benefit to both you and to the deer because the animals will be less pressured, and they’ll have plenty of time to get used to whatever equipment is there, if they even notice it at all. And the hunter – YOU – will have that added element of surprise, plus the convenience of already being set up and ready to go.
For the greatest success, Andy Morgan, host of “The Hit List,” suggests that hunters strategically hang rut stands where they will pinch down deer movement.
“Most of the time, when hanging rut stands, I’m familiar with the property beforehand,” he said. “I’ve done my scouting, and, based on the structure and the lay of the land, I know where I want my stands. I’ll look for spots like fence lines, open gates, ridge tops, back edges of a pond, or anything that funnels deer movement, especially for the rut. Those will be your high-percentage areas.”
You can determine your property’s prime locations by using aerial maps and topo maps and by doing some pre-season scouting, even during the previous winter. Morgan mentions that some of the best times to scout are when there’s a little snow on the ground or when it’s wet and muddy.
“The deer sign really jumps out at you,” he said. “We’ll go back in these areas during July and August and hang stands. It’s helpful to get that checked off the list. Of course, you may have to get back in there and clear some shooting lanes, but I’ll do that before the season begins.”
Aside from being advantageous for hunters, hanging stands in the late summer and early fall allows deer to become accustomed to and comfortable with using the areas surrounding the stands.
“You get in there early enough, and there’s less intrusion to screw up the deer movement,” Morgan said. “It’s all about surprise. And with those perfectly placed stands, you can just walk in quietly, undetected, and unseen, and get in your stand because it’s already set up for you.”
Of course, not all great rut stands have easy access. Some are located in funnels on the interior of your property.
“You shouldn’t access these hard-to-get-to stands too often, maybe once or twice in the season,” Morgan said. “The deer catch on, and you’ll only get a couple of hunts out of it because they’ll start to dodge that area.”
But if hung early, these stands may provide the best chance for a big buck.
“By being prepared and hanging rut stands early in areas that have limited access, you could shoot a giant buck,” Morgan said. “With a little luck and some good weather conditions, that early rut stand could produce the best hunt of the year!”