Find food, place stand

Food sources are generally thought to be the best indicator for stand placement. Try to locate the stand off the side of a trail leading to the food and don’t place the stand in the middle of the action.

Before bucks take a serious interest in does for breeding purposes, food sources are one of, if not the most important factor, in deciding where to place your deer stand. Even when the rut comes in, does will still primarily focus on food while bucks shift their focus to the females.

Hunters need to know what food sources are available to deer on the property you’re hunting and when they are most appealing to deer. This should be a top priority when pre-season scouting.

Learning to identify these food sources and locate them on your hunting ground is the advice from veteran deer hunter Lee Bright of Leflore County.

“The focus is always on how many acorns we’ll have during the season,” Bright said. “If the numbers are high, deer don’t have to travel far to get their bellies full. If they don’t travel much, it’s hard to get close to one, especially with a stick and string.

“If the numbers are low, then it’s a matter of identifying alternate food sources. Most of the hunters I know also keep an eye out for persimmon, muscadine, and any kind of wild fruit or berry.”

Other dependable food sources for deer fall under the category of soft mast. Soft mast consists of fruits and berries and is an often-overlooked food source during the early season. Muscadine vines, persimmon trees and black berry plants are all on my early season scouting list. Deer love persimmons when they’re sweet so hunters must wait until they ripen, which typically coincides with the first frost.

Browse plants are a difficult food source to detect when scouting unless there is a patch of plants such as honeysuckle, kudzu, or wild grasses. Deer tend to eat leaves and grasses while walking, hence the name browse. Another big attractor in this category are planted food plots. Food plots are valuable to both the deer and the hunter.

When selecting a stand site for a particular food source keep in mind that the best locations are not right in the food source but one that allows you a good view of both the food source and well back down major trails leading into the food source. Funnel area or pinches are narrow corridors that provide cover for deer to move from one spot to another and will almost always get the nod over crossing an open area.

“My ideal stand covers me from all sides and lets me sit off to the side and watch a trail leading to and from a good feeding area,” Bright said. “I’ve never been a fan of being right in the middle of things. That will get you noticed by the deer in a hurry.”

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Phillip Gentry is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer who says that if it swims, walks, hops, flies or crawls he’s usually not too far behind.