It’s been a long off season for many hunters, but that magical time of year is almost upon us. I’m talking about early deer season, and just saying that gives me goose bumps.
A lot of planning and effort can go into your early season strategy and the key to that is finding the best deer stand location. Recently, Mark Kenyon posted a great article on The Perfect Early Season Stand over on his blog WiredtoHunt.com.
The article inspired me as it hit on all the great spots to set your early season tree stand. One such location is over a known water source, especially if your area tends to be dry this time of year. Mark also covered hunting between bedding and feeding areas and hunting over a known food source.
I wanted to elaborate on hunting between feeding and bedding areas because as mentioned, it’s a great spot to hunt during the early season. When I look for travel corridors connecting these locations, I look for two different types of hot spots – funnels and hubs.
Funnels or Pinch Points
A funnel or pinch point is anyplace where the terrain is funneled down to a narrow corridor. A week ago I attended a school open house that took place in the gym. As the huge crowd was dismissed, we all hustled across the gym floor only to come to a standstill to funnel through the small entry door. I actually muttered to myself, “Hey, a pinch point!” I guess I had deer hunting on my mind instead of the boring speech I had just been forced to listen to.
When I think of these narrow funnels for deer, I like to target any spot where a well traveled wood lot or other type of cover bottlenecks down. I prefer bottlenecks that are 50 yards across or less so any passing deer stays within bow range.
I have also had great luck honing in on fence crossings. A place where a fence is cut or lying down more so than the rest of the fence, can be a good funnel for deer. The same goes for creek crossings. A creek runs through one of the properties I hunt and some of the banks are pretty steep. You can have great success picking out the trails that offer the deer the easiest route to cross. Remember, when deer aren’t pressured they’ll use the path of least resistance.
A hub is an area where multiple deer trails all come together, much like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Hunting a hub area is like covering several well traveled routes all at once and I can tell you from experience, it can be exciting.
During the early season, it’s important to note where the deer are bedding and where the preferred food source is. This will help you in choosing your exact treestand location. A hub can be a hot spot but you really have to pay attention to the wind direction. Unlike a funnel point, a hub area can deliver deer from multiple directions and routes so know where the deer are supposed to be coming from and which direction they should be heading.
Setting up on the downwind side of a pinch point or hub area can be a great early season strategy. Pay close attention to the wind direction and be stealthy on your route to and from the stand. Most importantly, don’t over-hunt your early season stands or pressure the deer too much this time of year.