Skip to main content

A Deer Stand of Your Dreams

A Deer Stand of Your Dreams

I always enjoy scouting the day after the season ends. That’s when I can barge through areas I’d normally never even tiptoe around for fear of spooking a Booner. It’s during this time that I’ll discover trails and subtle terrain features that have gone overlooked. With luck, I’ll find a big shed or a rub line—or even bump a big-bodied deer or two. Then I’m left wondering if the area is best left as a sanctuary or if I should be hunting it. On one hand, sanctuary space can keep big bucks on your property, but it can also keep you from ever killing one. With careful planning and discipline—and if you start right now—you can have your sanctuary and hunt it, too. You just have to build a stand in the spot you’ve always dreamed of hunting. Here’s how.

Find the Spot

We all know the area I’m talking about. It’s the place you’ve always believed bucks go to hide, but for some inexplicable reason, you never hunt it. Deep down, it’s probably because you have more proven spots elsewhere that are much easier to access. Maybe it’s a 50-acre copse of hardwoods way across the creek where you can’t get a vehicle. Perhaps it’s a five-acre patch of cutover in the mountain saddle you avoid because there isn’t a decent tree to hang a stand.

What all dream stands have in common is that they are secluded, rarely hunted, and oozing in buck sign. Your task for now is to make such a place huntable come fall.

Begin by finding the thickest and most secluded area on the property that has buck sign all over it. Hopefully, it has a small meadow nearby. Once you find such a spot, hang a trail cam or two and mark it on your GPS. Study Google Earth to understand the bigger picture, then get boots on the ground to learn the general direction that bucks travel to, from, and through it. Next, determine the best route to and from your spot. Consider the wind and remember that the best route will seldom be the most direct. You’ll need to get some equipment to this spot during the spring, so you’ll have to create a trail by which you can access the stand with as little noise and disturbance as possible. It’s even better if you can access it by creek or boat.


Now, in the spring when the leaves are on the trees, forge a trail to the hidden stand location. Cut as sparingly as you can. Hopefully, you have a few trail cam photos showing deer movement, so consider this intel before selecting a tree—or a ground blind—for your stand. As a final touch, make a slight curve in the trail just before reaching your stand location so your approach to your stand will be masked.


hunter planting food plot

Now comes the toughest part: creating a food source deep in the woods. You have several options. First, you can build a food plot. The smaller the better, as you want to retain this area’s natural feeling of safety. If you can get a tractor back there, great, but an ATV with a small disk or a seed like Whitetail Institute’s No-Plow are even better. Just remember, you’ll need to lime, fertilize, and break the soil before planting. So now is the time to get to work clearing rocks, raking, and taking a soil sample.

Deep-woods bucks have survived all of their lives on natural food, so resist the urge to place a corn feeder near your stand of dreams, even where it’s legal. Feeders are loud, strange machines that mature bucks avoid if they haven’t already been conditioned to them. If it’s legal to bait in your area, consider using a Treehugger from Wildgame Innovations or a Moultrie Feed Station Pro. Fill it now and keep it active to get bucks used to it by fall.

The final option is to plant a chestnut tree or a few apple trees in a clearing near your new dream stand. There’s an obvious problem with this idea. Unless you can carry a near-mature tree in there, it will take a few years and major TLC to grow; plus, there is no guarantee it will produce. You can always use a combination—like planting fruit trees and baiting—to hedge your bet.

Stand Location

Do not hang your stand overlooking the food source itself. Place it on a nearby trail just inside the woods. Mature bucks don’t reach maturity by loitering in the open during daylight hours. But the food and cover will keep them around. Your stand location should allow you to kill bucks as they stage in cover close to the plot, but it’ll also allow you to see deer as they come into the food so you can gauge deer activity. Choose a hang-on style stand and hang it as high as possible to mitigate your scent. If you must cut a shooting lane, do so sparingly. The less you alter the natural growth, the better. And if you see another great trail, consider readying another stand location. This way you can simply hang a stand in a few minutes without making much noise if you must tweak your location during the season.


Finally, set a couple trail cams—preferably the cell-network type so you don’t have to check them and spread scent all the time—but do not hang them at ground level. Strap one to your treestand and angle it down. Bucks will be less likely to smell them, and you’ll be able to see whether you could have killed the buck from your stand location.

Once it’s completed, visit your stand of dreams as seldom as possible. When the season comes—and only when the wind is perfect—sit there a couple times in the morning and in the evening. If you see bucks accessing the plot from a different direction or if deer routinely wind you, move your stand location immediately. After a move or two, you’ll have it dialed-in, and if all goes well, you’ll have a dynamite new stand location that only you—and big bucks—will know about. That’s the deer stand of your dreams.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim on a whitetail that provides the best possible margin for error.

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

Smith & Wesson's Tony Miele and host Kevin Steele track an African lion across the Kalahari for the ultimate handgun showdown with the King of the Beasts.

Moon Phase Rut Tips

Moon Phase Rut Tips

John Dudley, technical writer and host of Nock On TV discusses why it's imporant to follow moon phases for the rut.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

These are our favorite new products of the year for the archery crowd.Best New Bowhunting Gear for 2020 Bowhunting

Best New Bowhunting Gear for 2020

Petersen's Hunting Editors - May 21, 2020

These are our favorite new products of the year for the archery crowd.

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians; learn more about this tick-transmitted problem.Ticks Making People Allergic to Meat News

Ticks Making People Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians; learn more about this...

Chances are good that you're not getting the best out of your trail cams.3 Ways You're Using Trail Cameras Wrong Optics

3 Ways You're Using Trail Cameras Wrong

Tony J. Peterson

Chances are good that you're not getting the best out of your trail cams.

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

Hunting spring gobblers can be challenging enough! Here's how to not beat yourself.3 Run & Gun Mistakes Every Turkey Hunter Makes Other Game

3 Run & Gun Mistakes Every Turkey Hunter Makes

Tony J. Peterson

Hunting spring gobblers can be challenging enough! Here's how to not beat yourself.

Remember, if you see an animal worthy of killing and pass, you may not see it again.Should You Pass up a Shot on the First Day of a Hunt? How-To

Should You Pass up a Shot on the First Day of a Hunt?

Craig Boddington

Remember, if you see an animal worthy of killing and pass, you may not see it again.

Is it ethical, and should you even try it?Should You Shoot Running Game? How-To

Should You Shoot Running Game?

Craig Boddington

Is it ethical, and should you even try it?

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now