I hunted the same general area as another fellow. Despite being a bit of a snoop by scouting out all my stand locations, that other fellow is a decent enough guy. Meeting out at the trucks one evening he admitted sitting in one of my stands a couple of nights earlier and told me he didn’t like it and wouldn’t sit it again. And he wanted to inform me that my stand faces the wrong direction!
“Maybe for you,” I told him. “But it faces just right for me.” I am an evening hunter for the most part. It’s not that I haven’t killed deer in the morning, but I much prefer the evening hunt. I will be honest in mentioning that I do not care much for waking up before daylight. I do it a hand full of days a year, but primarily I am an evening hunter. A lot of it is physiological. I always feel that the possibility of deer showing up gets better and better the later I sit. In a morning hunt my mind tells me that the first hour of light is the best it’s going to be and then my odds progressively gets worse and worse the longer I sit. The thought of a sausage biscuit and cup of coffee for the ride home usually gets the best of me after about two hours on the stand. While I fully believe that deer are shot mid-late morning on a regular basis, it’s a struggle every morning I hunt. All of that is to say, I typically hunt evenings…and a lot of evenings at that!
When I asked the other guy why he thought my stand faced the wrong way, he responded, “The deer bed down in that swamp and then head to the scrub to feed at night. You’re facing the scrub, not the swamp, and you won’t be able to see them coming.”
“Exactly!” I exclaimed. “That’s just the way I like it.” I didn’t explain my hunting time preference to him, mostly for fear that he would decide he liked the idea and would continue to hunt my stand without asking. He is a compounder and unfortunately thinks he is capable of the impossible shots, forty yards through brush, facing away, facing towards, you name it, he shoots it. So by his impatient standards, yes, he wants to face where the deer come from.
I sure don’t know why, especially knowing his recovery statistics. My point here is not to bash the other guy—he is legal doing what he does, and I have talked to him about being ethical, but that’s about as deep as I am going to get into it with him. I’m pretty sure he thinks I am full of hot air because I hunt with a twisted stick and stone points. “A cute child’s toy,” as he once referred to it. Despite me being rather successful with my “toy,” like so many others, he just doesn’t get it.
So why do I put my back to the deer? It’s the most logical choice when you want to get close. There are so many reasons to put your back to the deer; I can’t imagine why you would want to face the deer. When a deer approaches my twelve-foot-high wooden stand (or ground blind with my back to a tree), the tree trunk is between me and the deer’s line of sight. This keeps me from getting overly nervous because I can’t see the deer yet. It also keeps my outline broken up and helps block any movement that could be picked up by the approaching deer. If you listen, you can almost always hear them coming, even on wet days. I stand in a tree stand the whole time, I do not sit. I also hold my bow upright with an arrow nocked, always at the ready for a shot. Being a right-handed archer, I position my stand to roughly offer me a 0 to 90 degree shot to my left at eight to twelver yards (directly front being 0 degrees and directly left being 90 degrees). When the deer comes into range and into my 90 degree shooting lane, it is already broadside and the further it walks into my comfort zone, the more ribs it exposes. The deer has already passed my location by the time I draw my bow. This gives me that perfect broadside or quartering away shot, and oftentimes the deer’s own ears block any of my movement.
Very rarely, if ever, have I been busted drawing on a deer once it has passed me, even by as few as three to four yards. Had I been watching the deer approach, the first shot angle I would be given would be a quartering-to shot, which I do not want. Also, I would be in the deer’s direct line of sight. By the time the deer would be broadside, it would be almost out of my comfortable shooting angle. If the average wind does not allow me to stand with my back to the deer’s predicted approach, then I will try to position my stand so they approach from my right and walk to my left. My comfortable shooting angles are straight in front of me, 0 degrees to 90 degrees due left. With the deer’s approach coming from my right, that pesky shoulder blade is past me by the time it enters my 0-90 degree “Zone of Terror.”
Getting past the mental hurdle of facing away from the deer took some getting used to. I had to realize watching and willing the deer to come my way wasn’t going to change anything. There was just no reason that I had to watch them walk into range. It just gave me more time, rattle my nerves, and gave the deer the that someone-is-lookingat- me feeling. I had to trust the deer would come down my trail without me using my telepathic influences to lure them. And I have killed more deer since I accepted that I need to turn my back on the deer. The additional perks of standing in this position are that I can get away with a little extra movement, which is inevitable in mosquito country. Even if a deer slips in quiet and I move my hands slow, my own body and the tree shield that movement. And my favorite perk, most other guys won’t like your tree stands that face the wrong way!
Primitive Archer Magazine
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