Placing a deer stand with precision that borders on perfection is critical when a mature buck is the goal.
At Hadley Creek Outfitters, they employ a unique tree stand system for whitetail hunting that has been learned and improved on for more than 18 years. “With a full time crew that professionally places these stands in each location, we’ve learned a great deal along the way,” said Hadley Creek’s Jared Heller. This tree stand system can be broken down into five rules for success. It can help any deer hunter, in any part of the country, in any hunting situation.
1. Begin with Quality
The type of stands we use varies greatly. We use hang-on stands, ladder stands, ground blinds and tower enclosures. But no matter what type of stand it is, it all starts with good equipment. When you start with a quality stand, you’ve already eliminated a huge potential source of frustration.
2. Do Your Homework
When we purchase or lease a new piece of property, the first thing we do is methodically lay out the whole area. We walk it, we map it and we get to know it. Wherever you hunt, your tree stand strategy can’t begin until you know the land extremely well.
Once we have the land laid out, we typically average a stand for every 10 acres. Of course we never use all of those stands concurrently. In fact, we usually average one hunter for every 50 stands. But setting all those stand locations in advance allows us to use each property very effectively.
When we place stands, we have one goal in mind: if a big buck walks through that property- whether he takes a ridge or a creek bottom or whatever-he’ll have to go by at least one of those stands. That’s why we set them up the way that we do.
3. Limit Your Intrusion
From there, it’s up to our guides to figure out which stands are seeing the most activity and adjust hunters accordingly. Pre-hanging a stand for every ten acres allows us to have a much lower intrusion level in each area. If you have to wade into an area mid-season to move a stand or make adjustments, your level of intrusion goes up dramatically. By having stands set in all those locations before the season starts, our intrusion level is much lower.
This system is certainly more expensive. It’s a big investment to set a stand for every ten acres of land. However, we’ve found it to be extremely effective for hunting big whitetail bucks. Depending on what the hunter sees, we can usually make the necessary adjustments without moving a stand.We also document all stand sites with GPS and aerial photos. We carefully mark stand locations on aerial photos. Our guides can then use this information to strategically place hunters depending on deer activity, wind, and other factors.
One more reason we set so many stands is to give us multiple options based on wind conditions. If the winds are not ideal for a particular location, we have other options to move hunters to be effective without having to intrude into that farm and move the stand.
4. Post-Season Analysis and Adjustments
While we are able to avoid too many moves during the season, we do shift stand locations as necessary. We certainly don’t set stands on a property one time and leave them as-is. Some stands keep their location year after year if they prove to be extremely effective. Otherwise, at the end of each season we carefully analyze locations and plan for the next season.
Our guides listen to the hunters and what they’ve seen. At the end of the season, our guides know which locations worked and which didn’t. They may also learn that the wind was right for some but wrong for others. The following year, we will then be able to make those adjustments.
5. Make Safety Your Top Priority
Finally, safety must always be the top priority when placing any stand. Putting yourself at risk of injury can ruin a hunt, a season, or even worse. We have a team of full time staff that hangs our stands. Having our stands hung professionally is something that we are extremely proud of. Besides being in good locations, our stands are hung with an incredible level of attention to detail. Safety, comfort, visibility and shooting lanes are all carefully managed with each location.
For more information on Illinois whitetail hunts with Hadley Creek Outfitters, please visit their website visit at www.hadleycreek.com or call 217.335.3804.
Image courtesy Hadley Creek Outfitters