Bow Hunting Climbing Tree Stands
How High?The higher you go, the easier it is to keep your scent above the heads of downwind deer, but the more difficult the shot becomes — especially when the animal is close.
I have a friend who believes, through personal testing, you have to be at least 30 feet up to keep your scent off the ground for a long enough distance that deer passing within range on your downwind side won’t be able to smell you. I would agree, not because I hunt that high, but because I know my normal height of 20-22 feet is not high enough.
Being afraid of heights, I don’t like 30-foot stands in the first place, but I keep my stands lower for another reason. The shooting angle to a deer’s vital area is much better from a lower height. Our goal as bowhunters is a double-lung hit. There are exceptions, but we should set up to achieve that. The higher you go, the harder this becomes, especially on deer within 10 yards of your stand — possibly even 15 yards if you go high enough.
Twenty to 22 feet is a very good compromise. That is about as high as you can go and still have a good angle for a double-lung hit on deer that are 10 yards away, possibly a bit less. And this height still keeps you above the normal peripheral vision of deer within 20 yards.The higher you go, the easier it is to keep your scent above the heads of downwind deer, but the more difficult the shot becomes — especially when the animal is close.
How Often?Each stand is different. Some you can hunt often with no worry of burning them out, while others you have to hunt sparingly. I don’t even like hunting the latter group at all, but in situations where stand options are limited you have to put them in the rotation. So, with that in mind, let’s take quick look at stand frequency.
I have stands I can hunt almost every day of the season as long as the wind is right. I have also hunted a few stands (and still do sometimes) where it is tough to get away clean at dark. These stands tend to burn out quickly. I avoid them when I can, and hunt them only a few times all season. You probably have stands like that too. It comes down to whether the deer know you are there or have been there. If not, you can hunt the stand often. If some of them figure it out, then you need to rest the stand a long time between hunts.
When deer sense human intrusion, they become more cautious in that area. If you reinforce the threat by going back too soon, they will stop moving naturally and become much harder to kill. Unless the stand sets up nearly perfect for undetected hunting, rest it at least a week between hunts.