By Mark Kenyon
I had just gotten into my stand and it was perfect. 45 degrees, a light wind, and it was November 1st. Immediately upon sitting down in my treestand, and I mean immediately, I saw movement out the corner of my eye. My heart nearly stopped and panic hit me in the chest. I didn’t even have my bow pulled up from the ground yet! I turned my head in the direction of the movement and saw a decent eight buck heading straight towards my tree, seemingly on a mission. I had no choice but to remain frozen, petrified by my lack of preparedness and utter surprise. The buck literally headed right at my tree, nose down until he got to the edge of the wooded finger I was sitting in. At this point he stopped, looked to either side, looked ahead of him and then BAM. His ears perked up, his neck jerked into the upright position and his eyes locked on to my silhouette twenty feet above the ground. Only a second or two later all I could see of the buck was a white flash as he disappeared into the brush.
This kind of experience, I imagine, is one that many hunters can relate to. Being spotted in a tree by a wiley old buck is something none of us would ever want to have happen, but none-the-less it does. Over the past few years I’ve been focusing on minimizing these kinds of situations as much as possible, and I’m slowly starting to figure a few tricks out. That said, the obvious and simplest way to handle this problem is to place your treestands in trees with lots of cover. A great big oak tree with numerous gnarly branches is a perfect place to hide a treestand, as those branches can easily mask a human silhouette. Or how about a great big cedar tree, trim away some branches and you can almost tuck yourself right back into the needles and become invisible. Yes, these are great kinds of trees to hang your stands in and this cover can definitely help you be better concealed from wary bucks. Unfortunately, these great trees aren’t always present in the places we need. While it’s easiest to “take cover”, sometimes you need to “make cover.”
That’s where zip ties come in. I’m of the mindset that if I find the right spot to set a stand, I need to be there, regardless (to some degree) of what trees are available. If I’m perfectly concealed in a big old tree, but I’m 70 yards away from where the buck I’ve been chasing is – it’s not going to do me a lot of good. Instead, most recently, I’ve been focusing on finding the right spot and then taking the best tree available there and making it better with a few customizations. Specifically I’m making these customizations by creating cover with zip ties.
Essentially what I do is a find the tree with the best possible cover in my chosen area, and then supplement the cover by attaching cut off branches to the tree itself or my tree stand. Before I climb into my stand I take a few minutes and cut a bunch of branches – preferably ones with many twigs, smaller branches, etc. I then use my tow rope to tie as many of these branches together. I’ll then climb into my stand and haul up the stringer full of sticks. Next I begin using zip ties to attach these branches to anything and everything around me. The base of my treestand, my seat, other live branches around me, my ladder, etc. Basically I want as many different tree looking structures around, above, and below me and my stand to make my silhouette less conspicuous from a deer’s perspective.
Keep in mind when doing this that the leaves on your zip tied branches will most likely be gone by hunting season, so plan accordingly and assume that only the branches/twigs themselves will be there to provide cover. Last, make sure when doing this that you still allow for shooting lanes and basic space to move around as needed.
That About Covers It
Having proper cover for you and your treestand is an obvious and very important piece of the puzzle when hunting mature bucks. But when Mother Nature doesn’t provide the right cover in the place you need to be, don’t feel like you’re out of luck. When you can’t take cover, it’s time to make cover. So pull out the plastic and zip tie your way to big bucks!
For the comments section: Do you have any other ideas for creating additional cover for your treestands?