I’ve never seen any statistics to support it, but I’d guess that less than one bowhunter in 20 hunts for whitetails on the ground. The vast majority feel best equipped to match wits with deer from an elevated tree stand.
It’s hard to argue against the virtues of hunting from treestands. Treestands work to position the hunter above an animal’s normal line-of-sight and can be one of the best tools for helping to control human scent.
Despite the fact that treestands can and often do tilt the odds of success towards the hunter, there are also times when hunting on the ground is a better option. The key to hunting whitetails successfully is being flexible enough to make changes in hunting tactics as dictated by the terrain, weather, or hunting conditions.
When To Hunt From a Tree
When you take a stand in a specific tree, you’ve confined yourself to a hunting zone approximately 20-30 yards in diameter. With these limitations in mind, stand hunting requires a lot of confidence that the animal you’re hunting will approach to within bow range.
The most logical times to hunt from a tree are while watching primary feeding areas or the trails leading to and from feeding sites. These feeding zones could be agricultural crops or natural mast such as apples or acorns. Deer are active only a small part of each day. During these activity periods they spend the majority of their time in these areas or traveling to them.
Hunting food sources is most effective early in the hunting season and again after the rut. During the rut itself bucks are less interested in food and concentrate more on keeping tabs of fertile does or rival males.
Many hunters also spend a fair amount of time stand hunting over scrapes or rub lines. Buck signs such as these represent a home range or travel areas an animal or animals frequent. The problem with hunting scrapes is you never know when an animal may check them. A lot of scrape activity takes place after dark, especially in areas that support moderate to heavy hunting pressure. Hunters who target scrapes need an abundance of patience and time to dedicate to their selected stand site. Not many hunters enjoy this luxury.