What is the value of your morning, mid-day and evening buck hunting sits? While using one stand to hunt from all day is a trendy strategy, most of the time you are severely limiting your buck harvest potential. Instead, a great strategy is to learn to maximize each portion of the day to help you find consistent success.
Rarely does a single treestand hold the same level of value, for an entire day. A great morning bedding area stand that is a solid "10" for the first few hours of the day, often turns into a value of 1 or 2, the last few hours of the day. Why? Because the closer to sunset the clock turns, the more that whitetails begin to leave their bedding areas to head straight towards food. The same can be said for a great evening treestand that relates to a nearby food source. An evening food source stand can be incredible the last hour of dark, but a very poor choice for all but the first 1/2 hour of light - and that's if deer weren't spooked off of the food source when attempting to enter the stand in the first place.
If you are like me, your goal is to take advantage of high value buck hunting opportunities, each and every time that you head to a treestand. To make sure that you are getting the most out of your morning, mid-day and evening sits, all in the same day, here is a strategy that you can apply to the entire deer hunting season!
THE FOUNDATION OF MORNING TO EVENING BUCK HUNTING TACTICS
Every strategy begins with an overall goal or aim to achieve success, and an all-day buck hunting strategy is no exception. The key to applying a highly effective buck hunting strategy is the basis of a whitetail's daily movement to their afternoon food source. Once a firm foundation of daily feeding and bedding is established, you can then take advantage of each phase of the day, at a very high level of precision.
The afternoon food source provides several ingredients that are critical to your success. Whether you are hunting on private or public land, the ingredients are the same, including: Destination food source, then adjacent doe bedding, then buck bedding opportunity and finally, safe and secure travel between all bedding and feeding opportunities. Once the line-up of food, doe bedding and buck bedding has been created or scouted and discovered, it's time to sit in high value treestand setups!
HIGH VALUE MORNING BUCK HUNTING
While hunting morning setups during any phase of the rut can yield incredible values, don't be suprised if you can find success by sneaking into your favorite morning stand on the backside of a bedding area, during the early season. My favorite rut-stand strategy is to slip well around the food to doe bedding to buck bedding line of daily deer movement, and to enter a stand on the downwind, and backside of a mature bucks bedding area. Whether the stand is directly over a mature buck's bedding area isn't as critical as you may think! I have experienced that a mature buck is likely to move within several acres of his remote, daytime hidey-hole, even if the season is still young. If you are truly on the backside of the movement, it is rare that you will spook a buck in his bedding area when entering your stand well before daylight. I personally like to take advantage of a morning buck hunting at least twice within a particular movement before the beginning of a pre-rut, and then a few times within a handful of morning stands, when the rut begins. By hunting the backside of a buck bedding area, during cold weather conditions, on the opposite side of his favorite food source and often 300-400 yards into the cover, you can easily experience a 10 out of 10!
MID-DAY BUCK HUNTING STRATEGIES
Mid-day buck hunting endeavors can yield very poor results if you are too close to food, and too close to a bedding area. The true test of an "all day" stand, is if you can experience great mid-day buck hunting opportunities. Why? Because a middle-of-the-deer movement stand location, is often close enough to both food and bedding to experience a great balance of value, for morning and evening hunting opportunities.
Mid-day stand locations are some of my favorites, because some of the better ones can provide above average values all day long. For that reason, mid-day stand locations often attract the majority of my waterhole and mock scrape setups. Also, some of my best mid-day setups include multiple stand locations that allow me to slant more towards morning or evening hours, while still hunting the same movement that is supported by both water and mock scrapes. If you can imagine a mature buck cruising thru a funnel between bedding and feeding during the mid-day hours, combined with daytime use of mock scrapes and maybe even a waterhole, you may have found a "10 out of 10", that can be hunted from daybreak until early afternoon, or lunchtime thru dark.
HIGH VALUE EVENING BUCK HUNTING
Nothing says "high value evening opportunity", like 2-3 deer trails forming into one on the upwind side of a treestand, heading towards a great afternoon food source! While the perfect evening stand is rarely the perfect morning stand, a portion of the time they can be great mid-day cruising stands for bucks searching doe bedding areas adjacent to food sources.
My favorite evening stand locations are often 80-100 yards away from an evening food source, and allow me to get in and out of the stand location without spooking deer on the food source. Waterholes and mock scrapes can be the perfect ingredients to form a combination of trails that turn into one super-highway! When blue skies and below average temps take over the afternoon hours, choosing an appropriate stand location for the evening hours can create a solid "10", nearly every time.
Like you, I enjoy sitting for mature bucks all day long. However, rarely do I sit in the same stand for the entire day. Learning to maximize the value of each portion of the day, has been one of my most important tactics to create precision success each Fall! I encourage you to score each and every sit. Are you hitting close to a 10 for each portion of the day? If not, think about the entire foundation of daily buck movement -food to doe bedding to buck bedding- and which portion of the day each of your treestands align with.