My thoughts today are short and sweet, but in all honesty, incredibly important. When it comes to using terrain for deer hunting success, ditches and creeks may be one of the very most important land features to consider. And although creeks and ditches can effect deer travel, I would argue that they are more important because of the implications they can have on hunter travel. Specifically your travel!
One of the most important factors to consistent success on mature bucks, is a stealthy entry and exit strategy for getting to your stand sites. Personally, this is an area that I have not paid enough attention, but it’s now firmly on my radar. Bill Winke once said that he chooses stands more because of good entry/exit options than because of good sign. Thats a pretty strong indicator of the importance of a good entry and exit. Being able to move in and out of a stand is just that important, and for that reason creeks and ditches are too. I say this because creeks and ditches are two of the absolute best topographical features for facilitating a quiet and stealthy approach to a stand.
Planning your approach into your stand will require one to consider wind direction, ways to avoid high concentrations of deer travel/bedding/feeding areas, and a strategy for keeping quiet and near invisible on the move. Creeks and ditches are the perfect fit for just about everything on this list.Walking a creek or ditch in towards a stand allows you to stay below the line of sight for most deer, it can provide a relatively quiet path of travel and keeps you from having to cross many deer paths or bedding/feeding areas. In my opinion, when available, creeks or ditches offer THE best entry/exit to a stand!
That being said, there are a few things you can do to make sure this strategy works as best as possible. When using a ditch, head in during the summer or early fall and clear the ditch of downed limbs, brush and leaves. Using a rake to clear a path down the ditch will allow you to enter as quietly as possible. If you need to break away from the ditch to take the final leg to your stand, consider clearing leaves from the ditch all the way to your final destination. Although you’ll lose some of the visual protection of the ditch, you can at least remain quiet. If you’re using a creek, just be sure to monitor the weather and keep in mind the fact that if you’ve recieved a lot of rain, that creek could become a river. Which could be a lot more difficult to navigate! The last thing you want to do is show up at your property, ready to walk into your stand, and realize your entry route is flooded.
Using the terrain, in this case creeks and ditches, to your advantage is one of the best tools available to a hunter when trying to outsmart a wiley old whitetail. And used properly, these specific features can make all the difference when it comes to making a stealthy entry/exit to your stand. Make sure this a #1 priority and you will see results, most likely in the form of fresh venison in the freezer and more bone on your wall.