Minnesota deer hunters have had it pretty darn good for last 20 or more years but things have changed a bit. The fact is the numbers aren’t there like they have been in recent past, especially in the north woods where a tough winter and too many predators (in my opinion) have taken their toll.
It might be better farther south but even so; the heavy snow and too many predators (coyotes) have whittled down the once abundant herd. Even with that there are still enough whitetails to make sitting in a stand opening morning plenty exciting and well worth the time you spend taking in all Mother Nature has to offer.
It isn’t all about burning powder but having a chance to take a nice doe or a big buck doesn’t hurt. Getting set up in the right place and staying put can be a big key to putting venison in the freezer this fall but there is more to it. Limiting your movement and keeping absolutely quiet as well as keeping your scent in check is just as important. Masking scents and scent eliminators can help, as well as washing your clothes with a scent eliminator and airing them out for as long as you can before your hunt.
Getting set up in the right place will depend on what you have access to and the prevailing wind direction. One of my favorite spots has a couple of wooded ridges that intersect, bedding areas to the east, west, and south, as well as a spring at the base of one of the ridges that my stand overlooks and has produced some nice bucks over the years and I hate to give it up if the wind is wrong but I will if it isn’t right.
The moral of the story is to avoid setting up directly upwind of the area you expect to see deer. If you have an alternate site you’d probably be better off relocating (even if it’s not a primary spot) as long as you can keep your scent from spooking scent wary deer. If you don’t have an alternative location then you better be on top of your scent game or you’re going to get busted and you might not even know it. Just because you don’t see deer getting spooked doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Deer can move without you ever having a clue, even in close quarters.
Movement is a real killer, too, and you better be comfortable or you’ll be made and avoided for the rest of the season. Warm clothes and extra padding for your backside can help you sit as still as possible. If you have to move do it as slowly as you can, even if you’re just turning your head. It takes some determination and self-control but that’s part of the game.
The SpinShot ladder stand from River’s Edge can really help with reducing movement. It has a frame and camo skirt that shields the lower part of your body and a swiveling seat that lets you slowly and quietly adjust your position and field of view 360 degrees without getting up. See you in the woods.
Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.