Both treestand placement and properly trimmed shooting lanes are an important part of a well-planned whitetail strategy. Consider how you’d feel if someone came into your home and turned over the couch, tipped over the chair and left the door standing wide open—you wouldn’t appreciate it. So it is for the whitetail that’s had a bowhunter come in and mess up his living room by over trimming. That buck’s going to know something isn’t right and may have second thoughts on getting too close to that area again.
In an honest attempt to be ethical and insure shooting lanes are unobstructed, bowhunters often lessen their chances of harvest by over trimming shooting lanes, removing excessive undergrowth and not carefully considering the disorder they leave behind for the deer that live there. When considering stand placement and trimming shooting lanes, there are some simple but important aspects to consider before excessively removing foliage.
Treestand Placement Tips
The acute instincts of a whitetail make it an admirable animal to pursue. The challenge of harvesting such an allusive creature drives us to spend countless hours scouting for prime locations in which to hang a stand. The discerning bowhunter knows proper treestand placement is an important key to a successful archery season.
While scouting, we’ve all found what looked to be the very living room of a true trophy—the ideal place for treestand placement. The area may have had well-used game trails, a significant number of rubs and maybe a scrape or two. By using trail cameras, we nailed down the location of the bucks bedroom, kitchen or favorite place for a dating rendezvous. These factors helped to determine our choice of treestand placement and we hung a stand in hopes we would intercept the buck traveling from one location to another.
The items we often forget to consider in our scouting for the perfect place to hang a treestand are: 1. Natural screening, 2. Thermal covering and 3. Canopy covering. These three elements make up the overall natural cover provided to deer by the natural foliage in a particular area. This cover also creates a safe surrounding and depending on the region, a cool or warm environment for the deer to bed, feed or travel in.
As the bowhunter considers proper stand placement, remember to take into consideration how the removal of undergrowth, limbs and trees will affect the natural screening, thermal and canopy coverings. These seemingly small details can have a great impact on future harvest success.
Trim Shooting Lanes With Caution
Trimming shooting lanes during the early summer will give you an edge in the upcoming archery season. Not only will the summer months eliminate any remaining scent in a particular area, but you’ll have several months for deer to adjust to the slightest change in their natural surroundings.
When trimming shooting lanes post-season, remember that less is better. The more you alter the natural landscape overall, the more you’re sure to tip off a wary buck that something is awry. When trimming shooting lanes, the ultimate goal is to leave the area as natural looking as possible.
When choosing a particular tree for stand placement, consider one that has a large trunk, several limbs growing out from the trunk or various smaller trees surrounding it. This will serve to your advantage and provide ample cover later in the season. The additional limbs and foliage will also offer a natural canopy and help break up your silhouette.
After setting up your stand location, carefully consider how the limbs you trim will change the natural canopy. You’d be better served in some cases to drag an obstruction into a game trail and make a new alternate trail with a better line-of-sight than to remove a tree that offers significant shade or has become a landmark within the whitetail’s domain.
In a recent discussion with a noted whitetail expert, the subjects of stand height, shooting lanes and natural canopy were being discussed. This professional suggested when choosing the ideal treestand height, to first consider the height of the foliage canopy in the particular area you’re hunting. Even if the canopy was seemingly low, he chose not to hang a stand above the canopy. This way the canopy offered natural concealment and would not leave him silhouetted in the skyline. A very interesting tip to consider when determining stand placement.
Trim Smaller Shooting Lanes But More Of Them
Many bowhunters fail to consider how much cover will be removed when attempting to trim a horizontal-style shooting lane. Instead, think vertical and trim multiple shooting lanes in a vertical fashion.
This style of trimming will provide more than ample shooting positions, furnish extra screening cover between you and the deer, and will leave enough canopy so your trimming will not be overly obtrusive in a buck’s home area.
It’s also good policy to use the buddy system when trimming shooting lanes. With the shooter in the treestand, direct the trimmer on the ground to the particular limbs or undergrowth that must be removed. Taking the time to gain a perspective from your treestand will provide a vantage point the trimmer will not have and insure you are not over trimming.
Every hunting area is different and you’ll have to judge your trimming accordingly. Always make safety a priority when trimming shooting lanes and never think in any situation that you can afford to go without a safety harness while in the process of stand placement.
Remember to trim conservatively and take time to consider that you’re messing around in someone else’s house.