Deer Stand Placement Strategy and Setup Tips Complete With Diagrams

Deer stand placement strategy will play a major role in your deer hunting success or failure. In today's post, you are going to learn how to develop a strategy for finding the most productive locations for setting up a tree stand.

Deer stand placement strategy

Below you will find our best tree stand set up tips complete with deer stand placement diagrams.

Many hunters use what I call the "roll the dice" theory when it comes to tree stand placement. They find a good deer trail, look around for a good tree to climb and set up a tree stand and wait.

While this may work once in a while, a rock solid deer stand placement strategy will increase your chances of success dramatically.

There are many things that you should consider before ever setting up a tree stand.

Let's take a look at our top tips for deer stand placement.

Top Tips for Deer Stand Placement

Here are the things that you should consider every time you are setting up a tree stand for deer hunting.

1. Wind

Wind is the number one consideration for deer stand placement. If the wind is blowing from your tree stand to the deer, then you might as well go home because you are wasting your time.

Always set up your tree stand on the upwind side of the trail and also upwind from where the deer will be coming from.

2. How Will You Get To The Tree Stand?

This tree stand set up tip is often overlooked by many deer hunters, but the more experienced and successful deer hunters use this strategy religiously.

You should map your route to the tree stand ahead of time and make sure that you can access the treestand without alerting the deer to your presence. This means having a quiet access where you will not bump deer and also where your scent will not be blowing towards where the deer are.

In the best case scenario, you will not even be crossing the trail that you expect the deer to use. This is sometimes a tough one to accomplish, but at the very least avoid stepping on the trail and avoid touching any brush or branches near the trail.

3. How High Should a Deer Stand Be?

This is a question that we get very often. Sometimes, How high should a treestand be for bow hunting? The answer is the same regardless of whether you are bow hunting or gun hunting.

A tree stand should be between 15 and 25 feet high. Any lower than 15 feet and you begin to lase the advantages of hunting from a tree stand like staying above a deer's line of sight. Any higher than 25 feet and you start to have major problems with your shot angle. The higher that you go, the smaller of a target you have at the deer's vital area.

As you can see in the image below, with a very steep angle the effective kill zone is very small and the chances of a bad hit are very high. This shot should be avoided.

Steep shot angle bowhunting

4. Best Types Of Trees For Deer Stands?

The best type of tree for a deer stand is going to depend on the type of tree stand that you choose to use, so let's take a look at the different types of tree stands and the best tree for each type.

The one thing that you want with all of the tree stands is some camouflage. The worst thing that you want to do is hang on the side of a tree in the wide open. You also do not want to be silhouetted against the sky. 

BBow Hunter in a Tree Stand
  • Climbing Tree Stands - Climbing tree stands consist of two pieces, the platform and the climber. They are very easy to use, but they limited to fairly straight trees without any branches up to the height that you want to climb. The best trees for climbing tree stands have other trees around them which will provide some cover for you when in the treestand. One of my favorite treestand setups is to take my best climbing tree stand and use it on a tree that has 3 or 4 different trunks so that you sit in the middle of the trunks and are surrounded by them, providing excellent camouflage and hiding ability. This is a little tricky because the trunk will be too big at the bottom to attach your climbing treestand. You will need to use a couple of climbing sticks to get up to where you can attach your climber and then climb the rest of the way. I like to use the climbing tree stand because it is much more comfortable than the best hang on tree stand.
  • Hang On Tree Stands - Hang on tree stands are the most versatile and can be hung in almost any tree, even a crooked one. Use the best climbing sticks that you can afford and you can literally climb around branches and get into some gnarly treestand setups that aren't possible with other treestands. Try to choose a tree that provides enough cover so that you will blend in seamlessly with the surroundings.
  • Ladder Stands - The best ladder stands are very comfortable, but they are also very intrusive and hard to camouflage. Ladder stands should be set up well before the season so that the deer become accustomed to them. We also like to attach evergreen boughs to the ladder stand with zip ties to help camouflage the stand.

5. When To Hang A TreeStand

You should hang your treestand at least 4 - 6 weeks before the season to give the deer a chance to acclimate to the treestand. Properly camouflaging the deer stand will help with this.

It has been our experience that your best chance at a successful hunt, especially on a mature buck will be the first time you hunt any deer stand, so plan to get there early and stay late.

6. Where To Set Up A Tree Stand

Now let's get into the nitty gritty of deer stand placement. Let's take a look at how to choose where to setup a treestand.

These are the best deer stand locations with a high success rate

Travel Corridors Between Bedding And Feeding Areas

Heavily used Whitetail deer trail

The most popular place to set up a tree stand is between bedding and feeding areas, that is where deer sleep or rest and where they eat. There will be very distinct trails that they use to go from one area to the other.

For bow hunting look for heavily used trails between the two and then find a suitable tree 20 - 30 yards away from the trail and upwind of the trail.

If you are more interested in harvesting a mature buck, then look for the less used trails that run parallel to the main trail and stay in or near heavy cover. These are the trail that are used by the mature bucks.

When you are planning your deer stand placement, stand on the deer trail and look at the available trees. Look for trees that have some cover so that you won't stick out like a sore thumb. 

A good deer stand placement strategy is to use trail cameras to determine when the deer are using the trail and set up a tree stand where they are appearing during daylight hours. This may be closer to the feeding or bedding area depending on time of year and hunting pressure.

Pinch Points

My favorite deer stand placement is in a pinch point. A pinch point is a natural terrain feature that funnels deer through a certain area.

There are many different terrain features that create pinch points. It could be a narrow strip of woods connecting two large wooded parcels, or a small wooded area between open fields. Saddles are natural pinch points that funnel deer through the saddle.

I spent a lot of time watching a saddle on the hunting trip that I recount in this Ohio deer hunting report.

You can find many pinch points by using a topographic map and studying the lines to find terrain funnels.

One of the best pinch points that I ever came across was on a Ohio deer hunting lease that I had a number of years ago. It was a waterfall that was about 20 feet high and the deer had no choice but to cross over the top of the waterfall because they couldn't get across downstream due to the steep banks.

Here is a trail cam pic of a buck on top of that waterfall.

Big Buck in a pinch point

Another great treestand location in a pinch point that I have come across is on top of a cliff or very steep drop.

The deer will tend to travel across the top of the steep drop and this is a great place to intercept them with a deer stand placement.

I had just such a funnel on a piece of land that I hunted years ago in Connecticut. Every year I would make a mock scrape on top of that drop off and the bucks loved to use that scrape.

Here is a trail cam of a buck using that mock scrape. You can see the drop off about 20 yards behind the buck. You can also the scrape dripper above the buck.

Buck using a mock scrape in a pinch point

Make sure you follow the tree stand set up tips above when planning your deer stand placement in pinch points. Getting the wind right and getting to your tree stand undetected are crucial for success.

Field Edges

Field edges can be a great place for deer stand placement during certain times of the year.

One of my favorite bow hunting tree stand set ups is on a field edge during the rut while using a decoy in the field. 

It is a deadly setup because the bucks can see the decoy from a long way off and can't help but come check it out. Add in some rattling and a grunt call and you can be in the middle of some incredible action.

Buck approaching a decoy in a field

Image courtesy of Wide Open Spaces

While field edges can be a great place for deer stand placement during the rut, it can also be deadly during the late season, when it is cold and the majority of the food is in the field you are sitting on.

This time of year can have every deer in the county visiting certain fields that contain high quality food and they will be coming during the daylight hours.

Deer in a field late season

Image credit

Watering Holes

Deer tend to get most of their water from the plants that they eat, but they still need to drink, especially in hot climates.

If you hunt deer in a warmer climate with a shortage of water, you may even consider creating a watering hole for your deer.

Here is a great video with tips for building a water hole and deer stand placement over a water hole.

So now that you have learned where to set up a tree stand, let's take a look at some specific examples in our deer stand placement diagrams.

Deer Stand Placement Diagrams

To help you better understand the deer stand placement strategy, we will now show you some of the best examples in our deer stand placement diagrams.

Deer Stand Placement Diagrams - Travel Corridors

In this deer stand placement diagram you can see the travel corridor from the bedding area which is highlighted to the feeding area which is a crop field. you can see with the tree stand placement that this would be an ideal place to hunt on a north wind. You could access the stand locations from anywhere left of the travel corridor and never cross the trail or allow your scent to reach the deer.

Deer stand placement diagram - travel corridor

Deer Stand Placement Diagrams - Pinch Points

In this deer stand placement diagram you can see the pinch point between to larger tracts of forested area between two open fields. This a great spot to hunt during the rut. The two tree stand locations allow you to hunt in different winds and access them without crossing the pinch point. This one of my favorite setups in November. I pack a lunch and hunt dawn to to dusk.

Deer stand placement diagram - pinch point

Deer Stand Placement Diagrams - Field Edges

This deer stand placement diagram shows a tree stand location that is perfect on a south wind given the fact that the deer are always coming from the south and you can access the stand from the field and not cross any deer trails. Always make sure that you have shooting lanes inside the tree lane as well as into the field.

Deer Stand Placement Diagram - Field Edge

Final Thoughts On Deer Stand Placement Strategy

Deer stand placement strategy should start long before the season begins. A well executed plan will perform better than luck in any situation.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Always hunt the wind.
  • Have a good access route to your deer stand.
  • Hang your treestand between 15 and 25 feet high.
  • Try to use natural cover as camouflage.
  • Hang your tree stand well before the season opens.
  • Use the deer stand placement diagrams above to help you find tree stand locations.
  • Use the best tree stand safety harness you can afford whenever your feet are off the ground.

Follow the deer stand placement strategy outlined above and you will be well on your way to a successful deer hunting season.

About the author

John VanDerLaan

Hi folks! I'm John VanDerLaan and I have a deep passion for the outdoors, and deer hunting in particular. I am what you call a year round deer hunter. I am in the whitetail woods year round preparing for the next years season and I love to share the knowledge that I've gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail! In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am an affiliate for products that I recommend. I will make a commission if you buy through my link. You will not pay more when buying through my link. In fact, oftentimes I have negotiated a lower price (or bonuses) for my readers than you will find anywhere else online. Also, when you buy through my link, it allows me to continue to provide you with tons of FREE valuable information through this website!

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