By Cole Daniels
What is the perfect time to hang deer stands? Well, that is a tough question with many varying opinions. I usually hang them in mid-summer. By mid-summer foliage is at it’s peak. Deer trails are pretty easy to find and you’ll see where cover is most abundant.
It’s a good idea to rough in access trails in the spring. This is a good time to break out the chain saw if you need it. Deer will have plenty of time to recover from the intrusion. However, don’t do your trimming. Vines and small branches will often grow back by the time summer and fall arrive. In July & early August I’ll enter the woods with my stands, pole saw, hand saw, and pruning shears.
Pruning shears are usually relegated to work around the house but they are incredibly effective for cutting in shooting lanes and creating mock deer trails. I can clear paths with a set of pruning shears much faster than I can with a hand saw. The hand saw is only used for cutting trees too big for the shears.
Start from the tree you’re going to hang the stand in and work away from it. If an entrance trail is needed, think about the best way to your stand based on prevailing winds. Try to base your shooting lanes on where you expect deer to pass by your stand.
After everything is roughed in from the ground level, set the stand and climb into it. If there are any branches that need to be removed to ensure a safe, quiet climb up to the stand, now is the time. Once you’re in the stand cut off anything that will impede your shooting. But try to leave some cover behind you to break up your silhouette. However, where we think deer will come from isn’t always where they appear. I’ll cut a few small shooting holes in behind me just in case I get snuck up on. I had a very nice buck come in behind me last fall and had to watch him walk away from inside 20 yards because I didn’t have a lane behind me.
So when is the perfect time to set stands? It’s hard to say. I put most of mine in from mid-July to mid-August. Some people leave their stands in the tree all year long. I don’t recommend that for a few reasons. Most importantly, limiting the amount of exposure to weather your stand receives will extend it‘s life and keep you safer. Secondly, trees expand and contract throughout the year due to changes in humidity. If your straps are secured tightly, they could injure or even kill the tree when it experiences it’s natural expansion during summer months. I have several stands hung in areas where there are only a few trees big enough to support a hunter in a stand. I can’t afford to kill one. If I’ve hung a stand in mid-July, I just pull the straps tight when I climb in for the first time in the fall.