Hiding effectively in a treestand takes a lot more than just great cover. In fact, the more you focus on the amount of cover surrounding you, the less likely your are to keep from spooking deer while you hunt. Stand placement, using multiple tree stands, staying off food plots and hunting moving deer are your best bets for remaining completely hidden. Spooking deer from your treestands rarely equals an actual lack of cover in the trees you choose to hunt in. Since the late 80s the number of bucks I have shot from skinny, poorly formed trees that lack a great deal of cover has been in the dozens. You should never sacrifice a great location just because it doesn't have a perfect tree in it!
It doesn't matter if you are hunting in high pressure states, low pressure states or on public or private lands; if deer are consistently picking you off while you are hunting in your treestands, you have much deeper problems. Consistent treestand spook-offs are a reflection of poor locations and poor hunting practices, that no amount of cover can actually fix.
HOW TO HIDE IN A TREESTAND
If you feel that you need to add more cover to your treestand to conceal you and to keep from spooking deer, it is likely that there are several other stand location concerns that need to be addressed first. Here are 3 basic stand location concealment strategies that you should be practicing first, before ever needing to adding any form of cover in your tree:
1. Multiple Treestand Options
Using multiple treestands clustered in similar locations, not only gives you the option of creating morning or evening specific stand locations and stand locations for most wind combinations, but it also makes sure that you do not overhunt your stand locations. I rarely if ever spook a deer from a stand location, and that is largely due to the fact that out of 21 stand locations and 4 blinds on three 40 acre parcels, each location is hunted an average of 0-4 times, over the course of a 15 week season.
2. Hunting Moving Deer
Deer that often stop, stand and stare, will eventually pick you out no matter how much cover you use. By focusing on travel corridors between food and bedding, or between bedding and bedding, makes sure that deer are just cruising by on the way to a nearby habitat hotspot. Moving deer are very easy to draw on, stop and take a shot even with archery equipment. Best of all though, if deer are moving and have a distant habitat hotspot on their mind, they rarely stop to look up in any trees.
3. Rarely Hunting Food Sources
Most likely the # 1 reason that hunters spook deer, is because they insist on hunting major food sources. Staying off of food sources the majority of your sits and backing up at least 50 yard or more, creates a huge advantage for you to not only be able to sit in your stand without spooking deer, but to climb in or out without being detected.
Can't find the perfect treestand tree in the perfect location? Who cares! The great thing about practicing the tree stand strategies of staying off food sources, hunting traveling deer and maintaining multiple tree stands in one location, is that you will find that you rarely actually need to worry about the amount of cover in the trees that you sit in. More cover will never solve the deeper issues of spooking deer from your treestand, and the overall drastic effect that it can have on your entire parcel. Instead by practicing the 3 proven strategies of staying hidden in your treestand can not only keep your from spooking fewer deer overall, but they also have the ability to help you attain your herd and hunting management goals.