Any hunter who has hunted Whitetail Deer from a treestand for any length of time has probably had at least one encounter where a buck or doe has wandered within shooting range only to sense that something was amiss and then stop and look directly up at them; thus leaving the hunter to wonder how he could have possibly been spotted! But, while the answer could lie in something as mysterious as a sixth sense, it more likely lies in the fact that deer have an extraordinarily sensitive sense of hearing and smell as well as the fact that they are far more adept at spotting movement than humans are because their lives literally depend on it. In addition, deer are also very familiar with their chosen habitat and thus, they are attune to even small changes in it. Therefore, when a hunter hangs a foreign object such as a tree stand or a ladder stand in a tree prior to hunting season, the deer do indeed take notice of it. Plus, a hunter walking into or out the woods from his stand each day will also announce his presence to the deer and enable them to pinpoint the position of his tree stand. Consequently, it is important for hunters to not only use an appropriate camouflage pattern when hunting deer from a treestand, it is also extremely important that they choose a tree with sufficient concealment or, that they add sufficient concealment to their stand in order to prevent detection.
In fact, even when hunting 20 to 30 feet above the ground, proper treestand concealment can drastically increase a hunter’s odds of success because, even though a hunter may be located well above a deer’s normal line of sight, deer have an uncanny knack for picking out dark objects and unnatural silhouettes in a tree. Thus, a hunter’s first line of defense should be to eliminate their outline by choosing a tree with sufficient concealment in the form limbs and leaves. Therefore, a tree that is located in a stand with other trees that are all closely spaced and which have dense foliage will work wonders to help break up your outline. However, choosing a tree with plenty of natural concealment may also limit your shooting lanes and thus, many hunters make the mistake of removing too much of the surrounding foliage in order to open up their shooting lanes. But, it is extremely important when doing so that you do not remove so many of the offending limbs that you expose your position to the deer.
However, regardless of how much concealment any given tree offers, it may or may not be the best choice due to its location in relation to trails, food sources, or the prevailing direction of the wind. Thus, if you are forced to hunt from a tree that provides little or no concealment, then it is imperative that you add either natural or artificial foliage to your tree stand in order to conceal your presence. However, you should also be aware that limbs cut from broadleaf trees will only last about a week before the leaves wither and turn brown and thus, such natural foliage must be replaced often. Therefore, a better option is to choose evergreen foliage since this type of foliage will often remain green for two to three weeks after it has been cut. In addition, some craft stores and home décor stores as well as some sporting goods stores sell artificial broadleaf foliage which is an even better choice than natural foliage because it will not wither and die. Or, if you cannot find artificial broadleaf foliage, then the limbs from an artificial Christmas tree will also work just fine. In addition, you can use such means as eyebolts, screw hooks, string, wire, or even zip ties to secure both natural and artificial foliage both to your tree stand and to the surrounding tree limbs in order to create a concealed position.
Yet another factor of tree stand concealment is to be aware of the foliage both in front of your tree stand and behind it. For instance, choosing a tree with other trees adjacent to it that has limbs that are positioned between your treestand and the ground helps to create layers of foliage between you and any approaching deer that help to conceal your presence from them. In addition, while many hunters like to position their tree stands 20 to 30 feet above the ground, doing so not only forces you to shoot at acute angles, it can sometimes skylight your outline and thus make you more visible to the deer rather than less. Therefore, it is not only is it wise to choose a tree with plenty of concealment, it is also important to not remove any more of the foliage from your chosen tree than absolutely necessary and to not remove too much intervening foliage between your treestand and the ground.
Plus, in addition to adding foliage to your stand and the tree limbs around your stand as well as choosing a tree that has intervening foliage between your stand and the ground, another trick to that works well is to hang a screen of camouflage cloth or 3D camouflage netting at waist level around your stand or, even to go so far as to use camouflage cloth or netting to create an enclosed blind around your tree stand. That way, you won’t have to worry about minimizing your movement when in your tree stand or being seen if you decide to stand up to take a shot.
Furthermore, another trick that some hunters use to help conceal their presence from approaching deer is to hang their tree stand or, position their ladder stand, on the opposite side of the tree from which they expect a deer to approach. That way, the trunk of the tree will serve to conceal a hunter’s presence. But, at the same time, it can also drastically limit the positions in which a hunter can take a shot and thus, this must be taken into consideration.
Last but not least, there is the issue of an appropriate camouflage pattern. For instance, you would not want to choose a broadleaf camouflage pattern when hunting in a stand of evergreens and, vice versa. However, camouflage patterns have become progressively more sophisticated over the years and thus, modern camouflage patterns such as Mossy Oak’s Break-Up Country and Treestand patterns are excellent choices. But, regardless of which camouflage pattern you choose, the most important factor is that you do wear camouflage since even a generic military camouflage pattern will do a far better job of breaking up your outline and concealing your presence than no camouflage clothing at all. In addition, it is also important that you not only camouflage your body, you also need to camouflage your hands and your face since human skin tends to reflect a lot of light and thus, a seemingly disembodied pair of hands and/or a human face peering through the foliage can be enough to spook a deer who does see you.
So, it is very important that you keep all of these factors in mind when hunting deer from a treestand because hunters have been using them for so long now that deer are now aware that danger not only comes at them from ground level, it also lurks in the trees above. Thus, the wise deer who survive multiple seasons have learned to look up when traveling from their bedding areas to their favored food sources and back again and thus, the most successful deer hunters are the ones that have learned to best conceal their presence from the deer even when hunting from a tree stand.
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