Tips for How to Enter and Exit Deer Stands

If you don’t have a solid game plan on how to enter and exit deer stands, then whitetails will see or smell you — or both — killing your chance of success.

Tips for How to Enter and Exit Deer Stands

Regardless of whether you pursue whitetails on public or private land, it’s critical to know how to enter and exit deer stands without alerting whitetails. Most hunters carefully consider prevailing winds when they place deer stands, but they cheat when walking to and from these locations. By not thinking this through, hunters kill their chance of success right out of the gate. 

I don’t care how hot the buck sign is in a certain location — if you can’t get into the spot and then exit without bumping deer, then you need to leave it alone.

When I’m faced with a tricky access scenario due to terrain, bedding areas, game trails, food sources, etc., I work backward from the hotspot to my truck. If I can’t get to and from Hotspot A without alerting whitetails, can I get to and from Lukewarm Spot B that isn’t too far from Spot A? If so, then I set up there. If Spot B still won’t work, then how about Spot C? 

You’re better off hunting the outskirts of a prime spot without alerting deer rather than jumping into a honey-hole and harming it for future sits. Sure, you might shoot a mature buck on your first sit, and if you have enough of these hotspots to burn throughout the deer season, then have at it. But if you deer hunt on limited acreage, say an 80, 160, 240, etc., then it pays to be smart by limiting your own disturbance of an area.

To test whether a route to and from of a deer stand is acceptable, slowly walk it during late winter or early spring before the forest floor turns green. It should look like October or November. Instead of watching ahead on the access trail, scan from side to side. How thick is the cover? How far could a deer see you: 50 yards, 100 yards? Consider the best wind for this particular treestand or ground blind; what happens to your human odor as you walk to the stand?

One of the best ways to get in and out “clean” is by using water and ditches to your advantage. For example, if a large pond or lake is on your property, then deer will travel around it rather than swim across it. If you walk around a lake to get to your stand, then you’ll be walking on deer trails. Not good. Instead, use a canoe to cross a lake, or chest waders to cross a shallow pond, and slip into your treestand without disturbing nearby whitetails.

If you watch hunting shows on YouTube, then you’ve likely heard about The Hunting Public. In the author’s opinion, these guys do an excellent job of using water to successfully reach their treestands without disturbing whitetails. (Photo from The Hunting Public Facebook.)
If you watch hunting shows on YouTube, then you’ve likely heard about The Hunting Public. In the author’s opinion, these guys do an excellent job of using water to successfully reach their treestands without disturbing whitetails. (Photo from The Hunting Public Facebook.)

The best routes to a deer stand should have you saying, “The deer don’t have a clue I’m in here.” And when you’re back at the truck: “They didn’t have a clue I was in there.”

In general, careful consideration of access routes to treestands and ground blinds will mean you must hunt the outskirts of a property instead of its interior. And that’s okay. Be patient and avoid spooking deer. Because whitetails don’t feel your pressure, they’re more likely to be on their feet during legal hunting hours. They’ll wander; let them come to you.

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