By Mark Kenyon

March madness, turkey hunting, fishing, the list goes on and on. I know there are plenty of things on your “want to do” list right now. But I’m here today to add one item to your “need to do” list. And that is hanging your tree stands, at least as many as possible. It’s one of the best times of year to do this, and here’s why.

First, lets talk pressure. Every time you enter your hunting areas, you’re putting pressure on that deer herd. That human activity will change deer behavior, and either make those deer (especially mature bucks) avoid the area entirely, or only use it at night. This avoidance can last days or weeks after the human intrusion. That said, why do people continue to hang their stands the week before bow season opens?! It is crucial to have your stands placed and prepared well before the season in order to give deer enough time to adjust and then return to their normal habits. So now is the time. Get into your hunting areas, prep your stands and then stay out. You’ll be glad you did this fall when you head back into those spots, which at that point hadn’t been fouled up for 6 or more months.

Another great reason to hang your stands now is because last year’s deer sign is more easily seen than at any time and it will allow you to better determine the best hunting location. As most areas are now rid of the snow, the trails, scrapes, rubs, and other visual clues from last years rut are finally visible. This visibility though won’t last for long, as the spring green up can quickly mask all all of these features. This is why it’s a great time to get in the woods, scout your area and hang those stands on sign from last years rut. For example, if you’re the type of person who likes to hunt clusters of scrapes back in bedding cover, this is the best time to find those scrapes! Nows the best time to scout, and by virtue of that, a great time to place your stands over the sign you discover while scouting.

Hanging your stands now is important also because you can clearly see how trees and the surrounding area will look during hunting season. Trees, at least in my area, have not yet started new growth and look essentially as they did during last year’s hunting season. When placing your stands now, you’ll be able to see how much cover is really in that tree for you during the fall, which should allow you to better choose trees that will hide you during the season. This is also a great time to cut shooting lanes, as you can clearly see where the issues will be next year with the leaves off.

I know that hunting season may feel like it’s a long, long ways off. But the more you prepare now, the better you’ll feel about the season when it all of a sudden is on your doorstep, and the more likely you’ll be to having the success you’ve always dreamed about.

In a few weeks some lucky basketball team (hopefully Michigan State! haha) will be cutting down the nets and celebrating a NCAA championship. It’s important to remember that they didn’t just show up in March and expect to have this success. Instead they started preparing months and months ago, all with the goal of getting to today. Keep that in mind, start your work now, and maybe in November you’ll be metaphorically “cutting down the nets”, or should I say “holding up those antlers!”