Stand Preparation And Lane Location
Once you’ve scouted a piece of property and picked your stand location, your next step is to ensure you have the proper shooting lanes. You can have the best stand location in the world but if you don’t have clear lanes to shoot, all your hard work will be lost when a deer finally comes walking through and there is too much brush for a clean shot.
I like to set my stands in the spring, and this is the time I also cut my shooting lanes. At each stand location I like to have a minimum of three shooting lanes. I pick the main trail and make a lane to my exact location where I plan on shooting. I also cut a lane on each side of this to see deer coming through before they get to the main location. This can also give you a backup quartering away shot in case you were not ready when the enter through a main shooting lane. Most of my whitetail hunting is done in Illinois where I hunt with slugs, but even then I don’t like to have much brush in the way. As far as the slugs go, I like using 12-gauge Winchester Rack Master rifled slugs. With 1 1/8oz shot traveling at a velocity of 1700 fps they have a ton of knockdown power and can probably get through most situations but I still like to have as clear or shot as possible.
One thing to remember when cutting a lane is to actually stand up in a stand and make sure lanes are cut appropriately. It really helps to have two people to get this done as effectively as possible. I have one person sit on stand and the other person walk the deer trail. That way you can see exactly what would be in the way or where the best location is for your shooting lanes.
If you happen to be bow hunting, you want to ensure your arrow will not hit any branches should you stand. Too, remember that your arrow will have an arc in it that you need to account for. When you’re gun hunting, make sure there are no branches that will hit your barrel when sitting or standing, and also allow ample room for movement both left and right. I also try to cut really wide lanes in the spring. These lanes will grow some by the time fall arrives, but getting things cut early makes your job much easier and quicker in the fall plus there will be less disturbance as it gets closer to hunting season. Once I have cut all my lanes, I like to take the brush that has been cut and pile it up on the outskirts of any deer trail to help funnel them even closer to my stand. You have to find somewhere to put the extra brush so you might as well use it to your advantage.
Another aspect that is just as important as cutting your lanes is ensuring you have a clear path in and out of your stand location. First, when it comes to choosing the path to your stand, try to avoid crossing deer trails if possible. Second, make it an easy path to get in and out. Most of the time you’re walking to and from your stand location in the dark, so moving logs and cutting branches to ensure you have a clear path will make your travel easier and quieter. For this, I like to keep a set of small hand pruners in my bag and simply snip any branches or thorn bushes that are in the way.
Lastly, don’t forget to mark your stand so you can easily find it both in the dark or during the daylight. The last step I do on all stand locations is place glow tacks and flagging tape on trees so you can get in and out of your stand during the daylight or in the dark. I like to put glow tacks on both sides of the tree about shoulder high so my flashlight easily lights up the tacks. Another easy thing that can be done is to place a reflective stick at the entrance of your trail.
Melissa Bachman is an incredibly hardcore and intense hunter – perhaps one of the more passionate hunters you will ever meet.