Deer season is almost upon us and if you are a deer hunter then you hopefully have already picked a place to hunt that will hold a decent deer population. I used to do almost all my deer hunting on my uncle's farm near Windsor, NY but since he sold the farm several years ago I now have to hunt on public lands. Thankfully NYS has a good amount of public hunting land, and also has Cooperative Areas that are privately owned but which have been opened to the public, by nice land owners, for hunting. This year as in the past several years I will be hunting on public land owned by the state. Brendan will be hunting with me. Will we be going to a State Forest, specifically a Multiple Use Area.
As a matter of fact I have been up there a few times now to scout out the area for deer sign. Yesterday I made what was probably my final scouting trip to the area. On the first trip, back at the very beginning of September (the Labor Day Weekend) I picked out what I thought would be a good spot to set up a stand. I marked off the stand, and a trail leading to it from the highway with reflective thumb tacks. That way, when walking to the stand at oh-dark-thirty (probably around 0430AM) we will be able to see the trail easily with our Mini Mag Lights illuminating those tacks, which are made specifically for that purpose. The spot I picked is not one that looks all that much like a text book example of a good location for a deer stand. Why not? Well, I suppose because it is not right on the edge of a clearing, and because there are a lot of saplings and bushes to make getting a clear shot not all that easy, and because it simply does not look like the best of spots. The thing is though it is a good spot for deer albeit one that will make a shot difficult because of the undergrowth.
Why is it a good spot. Well it is adjacent to a small field that deer frequent coming and going on their way in and out of the forest. That field is full of deer sign, the best being a well used deer trail that leads right into the area of our stand. I don't think that the deer stop in that clearing to eat what they can find. There was a lot of deer droppings as evidence of that. They also probably go through this way to the farm field a bit further down the hill and across the highway. I have seen them there, saw one there on my first scouting trip. Another reason that it is a good spot is because it is a transition point between the field and the heavier forest above where the deer bed down, and where they also can find an abundance of things to eat like acorns. Furthermore it is a good spot because it acts as sort of a funnel for the deer as it is a relatively easy place for them to make that transition from the lowland to the higher elevated forest. Yes there are a lot of saplings, but almost no brambles that are all around the rest of that small clearing I mentioned. That is important, deer and other animals usually like to take paths of least resistance. This area has had a lot of deer traffic, there were a lot of dropping around to make that evident. There is one other reason I thought this a good area. There was a nice sized couple of scrapes, one under a Hemlock or other evergreen tree, and one a bit further down the deer trail. They are both active scrapes; and I can only hope a bow hunter does not take the deer that made them before I get a shot at it in the regular season. Now I suppose I am setting myself up for that chance by writing this blog, but there is always a chance someone will see my stand and make use of it before the regular deer season (firearms season). I set up our stand about 25 yards from that spot. Since the area is shotgun or pistol only, that is a good distance considering the undergrowth.
Below, I have embedded a video (part one of two) of the stand I set up for our hunt. We will be hunting from the ground either sitting against trees or standing (or maybe sitting in a nice portable chair since this is not all that far from the road and a chair would be easy to bring in). The main point of the video is not so much to show why I think the area is a good one in which to set up a stand, but rather to show the precautions I have taken to assure we have a safe hunt. Safety is paramount when hunting, and I want to make darned sure that when on public property, the other hunters in the area will realize we are there. Of course we will wear hunting clothing with lots of blaze orange (yes deer are color blind), but I have also placed a lot of blaze orange tape on trees around the stand. Those markers are all temporary mind you, and before we leave for the season I will take all of them down. I placed them in a perimeter around the stand so that other hunters will have lots of warning that we are nearby. It is not like it is private property so I suppose that someone could just show up there and plop himself or herself right down where we intend to hunt but I am hopeful that other hunters who may scout or hunt the area are respectful of all the effort I went through to set up that area for use by Brendan and I.
As you watched the video, I guess it was pretty apparent that you could see the marker tape from a distance, and that it showed up very well against the background. Anyone who hunts deer or other wild big-game animals with firearms from a stand who does not mark the stand area like this is, in my opinion, being quite foolish. There are only a few exceptions where I would not mark and area in a similar fashion, and one would be predator hunting where camouflage is key to a successful hunt. Turkey hunting also requires the hunter to be camouflaged, but I have seen many successful turkey hunters who use this tape around their stand for safety. As far as deer hunting goes, I think you are being less than a safe and responsible hunter if you fail to use a lot of blaze orange. It does not guarantee there will not be a hunting accident, but it sure increases the odds toward having a safe hunt.
All the best,