Do You Use Any of These Gun Hunting Stand Locations?
While most readers probably enjoy spending time in the tree stand with a bow in hand, there’s also something special about gun season. Many of us probably started hunting with a rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloader, and taking part of an annual deer camp tradition was one of the highlights of the year. But there are some important differences between the early bow season and typical firearm season. Make sure you’re ready this season by considering some good gun hunting stand locations.
Gun Season Differences
The firearm portion of deer hunting season tends to be later in the season than when most people bow hunt, so you need to consider a few of the points below.
- Many Midwest gun seasons are designed/scheduled to overlap the peak whitetail rut phase of a given state’s deer herd. Theoretically, that is when the most does are being bred and bucks are on the move, and that usually translates into a better harvest opportunity for the gun hunter. Getting into the right gun hunting stand locations will help you with that.
- Because the season usually happens later in the season, the weather is important to pay attention to – especially in the Midwest or Northeast where winter conditions are on their way by that time. Unlike the early season when you could perch in a tree with light clothing, firearm season usually requires some significantly warmer gear. And in most cases, you will need to ditch your usual camo patterns and switch to wearing blaze orange clothing during this season. Guns can shoot a lot further than a bow, so it’s the law to keep everyone safe as possible.
- Most states have a dedicated fan base and tradition of firearm hunting, and most hunters are probably part of a long lineage of hunters who did the same thing. But the “orange army” has its effects on the deer herd. There is significantly more pressure during this season than most of the bow season, and in many cases, the deer respond by seeming to go underground. It can be tough to hunt later in the gun season just because the deer are on high alert and daytime activity can drop off.
- During most gun seasons, you can probably say goodbye to all the leafy cover that was hiding your outline during the early bow season. As a result, sitting in the same tree stand might mean you stick out like a sore thumb against the bare trunk. Pick a tree that has a lot of branches to hide your silhouette. Good trees might include pines or spruces with lots of green cover to tuck into or gnarly oak trees with a good branch structure. If you can’t find much for cover, try covering your stand with camo burlap or netting to hide your movement.
- The last key difference is that you can have tree stands located much further away from where you expect deer movement than you can during bow season. Having a deer within bow range means you need to be up close to the activity. But with a shotgun and certainly a rifle, you can afford to tuck your tree stand further back into cover because you can shoot much further distances.
Other Considerations for Gun Hunting Stand Locations
Picking a tree stand location is a really fun part of deer hunting, because it requires some scouting and forethought of where you will find the most hunting action. Because of the differences listed above, you may need to tweak a few of your favorite tree stand locations a bit when gun season rolls around.
- Because of the increased pressure during gun season, you need to make sure that you don’t burn out your gun hunting stand locations too quickly. If possible, set up multiple stand locations so you can rotate throughout the season and not educate the deer to what you’re doing. Each one should be best suited for a different wind direction so you have some choices no matter what the weather conditions.
- You also need to make sure you have a solid entry/exit trail so you can sneak in and out quietly. This will help keep you off their radar when the shooting starts and they get spooky. Try clearing the brush out of your trail and pushing leaf litter to the side before hunting season starts.
- If you’re hunting public land, use the hunting pressure to your advantage by going where other hunters don’t (or won’t). That might mean walking further off the nearest trail and pushing back further into more hidden areas. Or it could mean venturing through a swamp that others avoid to get to where the bucks will hide out come opening day.
Where to Hang a Stand During Gun Season
With all that said, here are some of the most productive gun hunting stand locations that you should include in your list this season.
- Funnel Locations – hunting funnels and pinch points is a great tactic for bow or gun seasons alike. Whether it’s the habitat/vegetation differences (narrow finger of shrubs or hardwoods) or topographic changes (ridge saddle), constricting deer movement into a smaller area is a recipe for success. But with a gun, your stand doesn’t necessarily need to be right in the heart of that bottleneck, as long as you can see it within shooting range. Because of the timing overlapping with the peak rut, one of the best spots during gun season is a classic rut funnel [INSERT RUT FUNNEL LINK], located between doe bedding areas. Bucks should be cruising between them and you could be there to intercept them.
- Thick Cover – when the pressure is on from other hunters around you, mature bucks know they can usually find safety in the thick cover. That might include a regenerating young forest, dense plum thicket, alder swamp, or tall briar patch. Because most hunters aren’t likely to venture into these areas, they can be a good spot to hunt during gun season. Finding a good tree to oversee these areas can be tough and shot opportunities may be limited, but you should be able to see a lot of deer.
- Remote Areas – as we mentioned earlier, the more distance you can put between other hunters and your gun hunting stand locations, the better off you should be. If you’re willing and able, push yourself further off the beaten path this year. Whether you have to walk through a swamp, paddle across a stream, or hike up a steep ridge, find a way to separate yourself from the orange army.
Gun season has its own special appeal and can be a great time to harvest a mature buck. We hope you can use these gun hunting stand locations to your advantage this season.