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Preseason Readiness - Deer Season is fast approaching

Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:01:03 EDT


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By Tom Lounsbury

I just purchased a two-person tri-pod stand for local deer hunting. It required two healthy young men to lift it, still boxed up, into my pickup bed. There is little doubt that some help will be needed just to get it unloaded, much less getting it to the selected spot, still in the box. Because of the location in heavy cover, it will have to be assembled on site and have a crew on hand to set it up properly. Fortunately it will be on my property and I wonít have to move it in the near future.
This all points out to the fact that preseason readiness often requires a little extra hand and teamwork, not only for convenience, but safety as well. Personally, Iím not into free-hanging tree-stands and I much prefer ladder-stands because they are still connected to the ground which is also supporting most of the weight. Originally I used one-person ladder-stands for my sons and I, but with grandchildren (and other kids) coming into the picture who must (and should) be accompanied by an adult, Iím going to the two-person variety whenever possible. If hunting alone, I certainly donít mind the extra space at all.
Putting up a one-person ladder-stand in my opinion requires at least two people, and I prefer three for additional safety (Iím sure there are some muscular and independent types who feel they can do matters singlehanded, but Iíve had enough thrills already in my life challenging gravity, and I donít bounce too well anymore either). Three people should be on hand for setting up the two-person ladder-stands as well, and Iím guessing three might not be enough for that new two-person tri-pod (I havenít dealt with putting one up before, but I believe it will work great in this particular spot that is too brushy for effective visibility from a ground blind, and lacks a tree that is large enough for a ladder-stand).
Where allowed on private property, I often leave my ladder-stands in place all year if they are in a good hunting site (especially near dependable travel corridors and notable pinch-points), as it saves having to deal with matters, and Iíve found quality metal stands tend to be quite weather durable. However due to annual tree growth (and weather/storms), I check them well before opening day to see if they need resetting and new nylon ratchet straps (I buy plenty of ratchet straps and have them on hand for this purpose). Besides annual tree growth, there is also dry rot caused by continual exposure to weather and the sunís rays that affects the integrity of tough nylon.
When it comes to chains which are more weather durable than nylon, Iíve seen annual tree growth actually weaken and even separate heavy duty steel links. I also have a wooden platform I lag-bolted between cottonwood trees near my pond, and it was quite sturdy. I had high hopes of even completing it into a tree-house/blind but that all got dashed this summer. Cottonwoods being cottonwoods and with all the rain this summer, they did some growing, and while the lag-bolts held firm, the (treated lumber) boards they were holding didnít, causing the boards to start splitting. So it is probably a real good idea to double check any ďpermanentĒ wooden hunting stands bolted or nailed into trees, no matter how well built.
Hunting blinds I do put up and take down each year are my portable and dependable Lucky Ground Blinds (made here in the Thumb near Ubly), and I like to do this in certain spots well ahead of time to let deer (and wild turkeys) readily adjust to them. Then there is my wooden deer ďshackĒ blind that I just discovered raccoons have been using as a playroom all summer after breaking in through a window, and the roof certainly needs some repairs too (I meant to take care of that last year). Yes, my hands are full right now, but it is all a part of the picture and the anticipation of the hunting shared with family and friends is what makes it all very worthwhile, and admittedly, I really do enjoy this preseason stuff.
This also includes scouting to understand what deer are hanging around in my hunting area, and Iíve been doing this whenever possible all summer. Bucks are usually in bachelor groups throughout the summer and well into September (sometimes there is a solitary buck out there, and these do perk up my attention because they usually have been around awhile and are a bit more moody and less social than the rest).
The scouting process gives me an idea of where the deer overall are feeding regularly, and this is important to when I (try to) pattern certain bucks (and why blinds/stands are located where they are). For me at least, the buck-patterning process (per food sources and bedding areas) can work during the early archery season right up until the peak of the rut starts easing in, then matters can turn topsy-turvy when bucks go on the move and some even seek different pastures in their pursuit of does. This is when knowing doe-patterns really helps, because where there are does, bucks arenít far away.
Iíve actually taken some nice bucks during the peak rut that I was never aware were around before, and Iím sure some were possibly transients from a ways away. Here in the Thumb, the annual fall harvest of farm crops can cause a quick change in deer patterns as well.
Trail-cameras certainly aid in the scouting process and I fully appreciate what they can do and have plenty of friends who use them. However, Iím none too high-tech with some matters and I have yet to give trail-cameras a personal whirl. I still rely on the old school tactics of ďreading deer signĒ (tracks, droppings, well-worn trails, scrapes and rubs) and glassing from afar with binoculars. So far, it has always worked plenty fine for me.
With summer winding down, deer season isnít that far away and I plan on being fully prepared before it gets here, and I do love it so.



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