Let's say that on opening morning of deer season, you were magically picked up and were told you were going to be deer hunting in a place you'd never been to before and it wasn't in your home State. And what's more, you could only pick one place to hunt deer. Oh yeah, and if you didn't kill a deer that day, you had to walk back home! How's that for pressure from a theoretical situation! Where would you start? Here's my favorite 1o best treestand locations and I'd pick one of them if this happened to me.
By the way, my picks for the best treestand locations are in order of my favorite places to hunt because my chance for success will go up greatly if I find them. Sadly, these don't occur in every place that I hunt, but I will go out of my way to find them if they do!
Treestand Location #1. Beaver Dams. Yeah, you read right! Beaver Dams are some of the best deer funnels you can find. But not any old Beaver Dams will work. The ones I have the best bet with are the ones that are on deep creeks with few places for Deer to cross. It also helps if there is a reason Deer want to cross the creek, like going from a bedding area to a feeding area.
I truly believe Deer hate crossing Beaver Dams, but it's either that or get wet. While Deer are excellent swimmers and their hollow hair will keep them warm even when wet, they still will avoid swimming if given the chance. So if you know of a creek with Beaver Dams spaced a ways apart, scout them good and look for Deer crossing!
Treestand Location #2. Saddles in long ridges. When I'm hunting in Mountainous areas like the Ozarks or Quachita's, I look for long ridge lines with a saddle in them. Unfortunately in these two mountain ranges, when you find a saddle, it generally has a freakin' road in it! But there are a few...if you look hard enough.
The saddle doesn't have to be very deep either. There's one place in Northern Arkansas that the elevation change in the ridge is only about 10 feet. But that slight saddle is enough to funnel those Rock Pile deer through it year after year!(at least every year I've hunted there, I can't speak for the years I'm not there...:D)
The best way to find them is by using a topo map and following the ridge lines and taking note of elevation changes. You can also use Google and use the Satellite photo's to find saddles, but the smaller ones are harder to see if the photo's were taking in Spring and Summer.
Treestand location #3. Fence crossings. If you hunt in an area with a lot of fences, then you should be looking for places where Deer cross them. One of my best stand locations is a fence crossing where an old tree fell across the fence and broke it. The landowners on either side have no cows in these pastures so neither are worried about getting the fence fixed. If you want to know the truth, I think both are waiting on the other to fix it. That's okay by me, as my Titan Ladder Stand is 30 yards away and this crossing has supplied me with Deer sightings every year!
If you're not lucky enough to have a tree fall where you want it, there are ways of making a better fence crossing. What I've done in the past is cut brush and put at every crossing where I didn't want the deer to cross. I then found a place for a stand and took some para cord and tied it to the top strand of wire and then to the bottom strand. I then pull the two as tight as I can forming a v at the top wire and an inverted 'V' at the bottom, giving the Deer more than enough room to jump over or crawl under the fence. Obviously this works with a barbed wire fence, a web wire fence is totally different, you may only be able to pull the top down.
Whatever you do, make sure you ask the landowner before doing any of these modifications!
Treestand location #4. Finger ridges. Take your hand and lay it flat on a table or other flat surface in front of you. Now spread your fingers wide and pretend these are finger ridges coming off of a main ridge. The hub, the center of the back of your hand, is where you'll want to scout for a treestand location. This is where most of the Deer will pass through in mountainous areas. Sometimes it may only be 2 or 3 fingers coming together at the Hub, sometimes it's more. If the "Hub" is also a nice Oak flat full of acorns, then you might just be sitting on a honey hole! These are definitely places you want to check out and put a treestand if the sign indicates Deer activity!
Treestand location #5. Strips of brush or trees extending out into fields. These can be Golden! Normally, if you have trees or a line of brush extending out into a farm field, it's because there is a draw there. It could also be because the ground there always stays wet. Whatever the reason, if you can find a place like this, look it over real well! Chances are Deer are using it to enter and exit the field. Bucks will especially like these areas during the Rut.
My favorite place to put a treestand in a situation like this is normally right at the 'base' of the draw or brush where it begins at the field edge. If the wind allows me, this setup will catch any Buck that is scent checking the field or waiting for Does returning from the field and using this strip as a travel path.
Treestand location #6. Treelines. Speaking of treelines, if you can find one connecting two sections of woods or other Deer habitat, you've probably found you a Deer super highway! My buddy lives in the same house he grew up in. About 200 yards across the pasture behind his house is a treeline about 75 yards wide that runs for about 1/4 mile. It connects a huge area of woods on the South side with broken woods and grown up fields on the North side. There are cow pastures on either side of this treeline and the cows do a good job of keeping the grass down.
Where do you think a Deer that wants to go from the South woods to the North section will travel? That's right, the treeline! It's also a good place to intercept a Buck that is traveling through the Countryside looking for a hot Doe. It's not unusual to look out his back window in the early mornings or late afternoons and see Deer walking along the treeline.
Treestand location #7. Edges of grown over clear cuts where they meet hardwoods. Another of my favorite spots to intercept Bucks are at the edges of a clear cut that has been cut over several years back and allowed to grow up. Usually years 2 through 5 after a place has been cut, there will be some nasty briars, bushes and crap a sane Man would never want to go into. I usually don't either! Most times I can find a spot along the edge and set up a treestand there. I particularly like to find trails leading in and out of these clear cuts. When the pressure gets hot and heavy, the Bucks know that these are safe places.
If you have permission and you're willing to do some work, then you can make you a Deer magnet anytime you find a grown up clear cut. What I've done in the past is crawl, yes I mean CRAWL into these jungles for about 50 yards and then started cutting a straight path through this mess. The path is about as wide as I can extend both arms. Why do I crawl into these areas? Because if you start at the edge, someone may find it and you're secret hunting spot will be done for!
I make these paths about 100 yards long if I can. Once I've got one straight, I go back to the halfway point and start cutting another bisecting the first. So when I'm done, I have what would look like a "Plus Sign" if viewed from the air. At each end of the 'plus sign' I look for trees to put up a stand. I also try to have a tree near the intersection of each lane of the 'plus sign'. Deer will use these lanes you cut like you wouldn't believe!
The downside is that it can be hard to get into these place undetected, so you'll have to leave early and take it slow.
Another feature that I added to several was to rake away the leaves and crap once I had the lanes cut and then threw down some quick growing Winter seed like wheat and rye. Imagine having such a secret spot that no one else knew about in a heavily hunted area.
Treestand location #8. Habitat changes. Technically, Location #7 above could be considered a habitat change. As could places where the Woods meet Fields. These are generally all good areas to look for Deer sign. Deer are edge lovers! A few places of habitat change that I've successfully hunted over the years include places where wetlands met hardwood forest, Pine plantings met hardwoods and obviously where crop fields met any kind of brush, whether it was a swamp or forest. The nastier the better!
There's a WMA about 2 hours away from me where I hunt a few times each year. It's hilly, some would say slightly mountainous. But there are several places where the ridges come down and meet bottom land. The White Oak and Black Jacks of the hillside meet the Red Oaks and Ash trees of the bottom. Along this edge I've had numerous treestands over the years and nearly always see Deer there. If used this pattern at other places I hunt and can nearly always find deer. Keep this in mind when you're out there scouting this year!
Treestand location #9. Remote fruit trees. I'll have to admit that I'm not real big on seeking out the best Persimmon trees or hoping to find an old homestead with an ancient Apple tree that draw deer from miles around. When I was younger, I did take some Apple trees that I grew from seeds and plant them on our property. I think they lasted maybe a week before something ate them! That was pretty much my attempt at trying to make my own Deer attracting Apple orchard!
But I know others who routinely kill nice Deer at these locations. If you know of some type of fruit tree such as Apple or Pear, it may pay off for you to check them each year for fruit. Persimmons are popular in our hunting area, but I can't say I've ever killed a Buck from one. I've taken a few Does over the years because they'll visit them during the daylight. In normal years, the Persimmons are gone by Gun season so they only provide fruit for a few weeks. They start ripening and falling shortly after the first good frost.
Treestand location #10. Standing corn. This is my last pick simply because Corn is not a crop that is grown that much in our area. The few chances that I have had to hunt it, I found it very exciting. Standing corn is Deer cover and food all wrapped up in one. There's no need for Deer to ever leave the cover of a standing Corn field, but obvioiusly some do just for the heck of it.
I like to bowhunt standing Corn fields by still hunting across the rows. I generally do this on Windy days so that the noise of the Corn stalks cover any noise I make. It's not uncommon to catch the Deer beded down between the rows. Just remember to start downwind.
I've also put up a ground blind about 30 yards inside the standing Corn and watched the edge. This is especially good if the edge of the Corn is a long ways away from Woods. Deer expect trouble from the woods, but for some reason the don't expect it from inside the Corn itself. I will usually cut the stalks in one row so I have a clean shot from my blind out to the edge. Use the cut stalks to brush in your blind and have fun!
So there you have it, my 10 best treestand locations. Hopefully you'll keep these in mind as you're out and about scouting this year. If you find one of these locations, look it over real good for Deer sign. You might just have stumbled upon a honey hole that produces year after year!