The best time to hang tree stands is generally thought to be late spring or early summer.
Hanging a tree stand during the spring growing season can ensure that the new young foliage growth does not compromise proposed shooting lanes. Additionally, walking into the woods to set your stands in late spring or early summer can provide an opportunity to review and finalize your access routes to and from the stand.
If you have had a favorite tree in the past, checking its sturdiness during these months is vital. As time passes, the tree can be compromised by natural events, woodland creatures, or expected growth, so seeing how your tree has fared during the off-season is essential for your safety.
Using late spring and early summer as the period to set your stands also provides an ideal amount of time to scout your preferred location for deer movements and habits.
But it’s not as simple as that. The reality is plenty of folks operate a “run & gun” setup which sees them hanging a tree stand on the same day as the hunt. So although there are advantages to prepping and planning, the truth is there’s no simple best time to hang tree stands.
Benefits of Hanging Tree Stands Early
Preparing for hunting season is a year-round endeavor for many hunters, so ensuring that all equipment is prepared and ready to be placed in the woods is an enjoyable task.
A key benefit of setting a hanging tree stand early in the year is that the deer will be accustomed to the stands. Diminished fear will lead to less spooking and potentially a better shot.
Additionally, when a stand is placed early enough, your scent – the scent of humans – dissipates, and it becomes easy to blend in with the natural smells of the forest. The human scent stays on the ground, trees, and the stand for about three days. If it rains immediately after you set your stand, your scent on the tree and the surrounding area washes away more quickly.
Finally, if you know where you have placed a hanging stand, you can be sure to keep clear shooting lanes to enhance the efficacy of your hunt. Hanging your stand in early summer will allow you to initially clear any springtime growth from your shooting lands. By checking on your stand in the fall before hunting season, you may make any necessary shooting lane adjustments before the season begins.
Possible Problems With Hanging Tree Stands Too Early
Unfortunately, the deer might change their movement patterns before hunting season if you hang tree stands too early. Visit the proposed location of your tree stand multiple times for a few weeks before deciding to affix the stand to a tree.
Another potential problem is theft of equipment if you hunt on public lands or private lands if multiple hunters have permission to hunt the property. If you leave equipment for months leading up to hunting season, other hunters or property owners might think that the stand is from an older season or no longer in use and remove it. Adding specific tags to your stand to mark it as yours helps prevent vandalism or theft.
Can You Hang Tree Stands Too Late?
While the late spring to early summer period is an advantageous time to hang a stand in a tree, your timeline is determined by your process and which strategies you choose to implement in selecting a prime location for hunting.
Many find that using day-of climbing stands reduces planning anxiety and provides an equally enjoyable hunt. However, there might be some benefits that you are missing from not establishing a hunting location earlier in the year. Specifically, setting up a stand can be disruptive, so there is a built-in waiting period after you arrive where the woods will need to calm again.
Further, bringing a stand with you into the woods increases the weight and the amount of gear to haul on foot to a prime hunting location. What’s more, hunters can choose to be flexible with how they prefer to hunt from day to day or season by season, so exploring which type of setup and stand is best for you is entirely reasonable.
Select the Best Location
Scouting an area to view and understand deer movement patterns is essential to know which location to place your hanging tree stand. The deer’s most expected and recognizable movement is the deer’s path between the daytime bedding area and an evening food source.
Additionally, hunters should choose a location based on other factors that contribute to deer movement. First, deer move following the sun rising and setting and travel in their area, most often at dawn and dusk. Second, factoring in how the wind will move by you in the stand is essential to the degree that it can be predicted because deer can sense danger by using their nose.
Logistically, hunters should place their stand so that the sunsets behind the stand so the sun will not impair the ability to see approaching deer or your shooting path. Additionally, it can reduce potential glare that might spook dear and disrupt your hunt.
Also, hang your stand so that you will need to move very little to take a shot. If you need to adjust your feet before taking the shot or pulling the bow, then you might scare your prey and miss your opportunity.
Some hunters have experienced success in specific locations, including trails frequently traveled by deer, near bedding areas with signs of current use, and above food and water sources. Deer enjoy eating white acorns, so finding a location near a tree producing this delicacy will have the deer walking directly towards you.
Hanging Before or During Rain
Some folk say that the best time to hang tree stands is right before a rain storm as setting a stand in the rain minimizes noise and means your scent will be almost immediately washed away.
It is an important safety measure to refrain from hanging a tree stand during the rain, however. It is hazardous to hang a stand in wet conditions because the chance of slipping and falling dramatically increases, as does the risk of serious injury.
Importance of Mobility & Adjusting
A hunter needs to be comfortable in their stand since they must remain as still as possible to ensure maximum stealth. The ability to adjust a stand to meet your needs is critical. Additionally, when hunting, it is not uncommon to sit in a stand for hours on end, so having the flexibility to move and adjust yourself through your hunting period is essential for a successful hunt.
One of the main reasons it is possible to experience a successful hunt on the same day as hanging your stand is because same-day work allows a hunter range and mobility to accommodate how their body is feeling on that particular day.
Tips for Hanging a Stand Stealthily
Interestingly, areas of increased human activities are the most accessible locations to move stealthily, which epitomizes the idea of hiding in plain sight. Specifically, deer accustomed to hearing and smelling humans near their living areas will be less likely to be spooked by a hunter’s presence.
For instance, in wooded areas near hiking paths, bike trails, and vehicular traffic, a hum of daily human intrusions is created, and deer eventually tune out the noise and disruption.
Finally, if you can handle your tree stand between late spring and early summer, there is little need to be stealthy. The deer will have long forgotten that you entered the forest to set the stand by the time season arrives, and you will have selected the best location for success.
When To Set Up Ladder Stands
Ladder stands require more time to hang in a tree and cause more forest disturbance on the day of your hunt. Most hunters agree that hanging later stands two weeks to a month before hunting in the stand is the best practice to ensure that deer become comfortable with the artificial equipment in the woods. (See “Do Deer Notice Ladder Stands“).
The Best Time to Hang Tree Stands
For some hunters, a specific, historically-successful location is where they will place a tree stand, so there is less need for scouting a location. If a hunter remains happy about the site and productivity is high, then simply ensuring that deer movement in the area remains the same annually is essential.
When you decide to set up your tree stand, remember to keep safety practices at the forefront. Check and double-check all ropes, straps, and cables that secure your stand to the tree. When available, use a full-body harness attached to the stand or tree that will offer additional support movement or unintentional falls.