Featured Photo: Nick Trehearne 

This is not a story about public land or how to ask permission to hunt private land. It’s a story for those new hunters who have identified the property they’ll hunt, but literally have no idea where find wild game or where to set-up a hunting blind or treestand.

Here’s a conversation I’ve actually had:

New hunter: “Nah, nah, I mean, there’s actually some public land near my house. I don’t even see that many people out there on it.”

where to set-up a hunting blind or treestand

Photo: Rustico

Me: “Well that’s awesome. That’s the hard part for most of us. I can help you get your hunting license and we can go shoot at the range, get your gun dialed in. You’ll be all set by opening day.”

New hunter: “Yeh but, dude. I mean, I have no idea where the hell I’m supposed to go once I park my truck and walk into the woods. I’m sorry, but that’s where we’re at.”

Nope, no need to be sorry bro. That’s on me. And that’s on you seasoned hunters out there too. Cause it’s actually a solid question. Too often, we hunters start at “Step C” when our buddy, the new hunter, can’t find a bit of information that addresses “Step A” and “Step B.” When you do something often and know it well, sometimes the basics are lost in the nuances of being an “expert.”

So here are 9 steps to help new hunters decide where to set up ground blinds or hang a treestand. If you think you’re too advanced for this beginner stuff, we have some resources for you too. Under each basic step, there are links to additional tips and how-tos that appeal to all skill levels.

Note: These steps are provided courtesy of Explore Bowhunting, but many of the tips apply to all types of hunting. Public-land hunters are advised to check local hunting regulations for what’s allowed or not allowed on public lands in your state. 

1. Look for animal signs.

These signs include tracks, scat, food, scrapes, bedding sites, game trails, buck rubs or turkey dust beds. The fresher the animal sign is, the better. For example, a deer trail with fresh tracks or scat and rubs leading to or from a bedding area can be a great spot for hunting. Learn more about deciphering animal tracks and sign at Bowhunting360.com.

More tips and information:

Learn how to track wildlife successfully by identifying scat (poop)

2. Scope out good habitat.

Place your blind or treestand near sources of food, water and shelter that are important for your target animals.

More tips and information:

What do deer eat?
How one hunter locates and creates bedding areas for deer
How to find the right pronghorn water source

3. Consider the best timing.

Try to determine if an animal uses an area more in the morning, evening or midday. This will help you decide when to hunt or if you should find another location.

4. Be safe and site specific.

When choosing a tree for your stand, the tree must be alive, healthy, sturdy and large enough to support the weight of a stand and the hunter using it.

More tips and information:

Choosing the right tree for your hunt
No treestand? Hunt from the ground instead!
Top 10 treestand safety tips

5. Create a shooting lane.

Once your treestand or blind is in place, make sure you have open shooting lanes by removing any branches that might interfere with your shots.

More tips and information:

Trim better shooting lanes
6 tips for hunting in a ground blind (including one about shooting lanes)

6. Check wind direction.

Always consider the area’s predominant wind direction when placing your treestand or blind. You can have the perfect setup, but if the wind blows your scent toward approaching animals before they’re within range, they will smell you and leave the area.

More tips and information:

Can deer move in high winds?
Wind, the worst four-letter word in coyote hunting

7. Plan ahead.

Whenever possible, place your tree stand or ground blind long before you begin hunting to ensure animals have time to adjust to it. Set up your site at least two weeks in advance. The more time animals have to adjust, the better.

More tips and information:

Video: How to set up and hide your hunting blind

8. Room for equipment and shooting.

There must be ample space for your equipment. For bowhunters, you’ll likely want to ensure you can shoot your bow while standing, sitting or kneeling, whether in a treestand or ground blind.

9. Comfort

Hunting, especially bowhunting, requires lots of waiting. Make sure you can stand, sit or kneel comfortably for long periods of time.

Related: 10 ways to NOT fill your deer tag

If you’re new to hunting and looking for more information on how to get started, check out Grand View’s beginner content. If you’re looking to get into bowhunting, you might also visit bowhunting360.com, a site funded by the Archery Trade Association.