By Mark Kenyon
“If there is one secret to hunting mature whitetails, it is related to these entry and exit routes. This is the true chess match. How you get to and from your stands determines the outcome of your season.” – Bill Winke
Spring green-up is just around the corner, and if you’re a hardcore whitetail hunter, that means it’s time to get to work. As Bill Winke explained in the quote above, developing adequate entry/exit routes can make or break your season. I’d go so far as to say that in many cases, if you can’t get in and out of a stand without bumping deer, it’s better to not hunt it at all and avoid the risk of educating deer in the area. That said, now is the time to prepare those routes to your stands.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few quick and simple tips for improving and silencing your access routes now, allowing you quick and quiet access in the months to come. All you’ll need is a backpack sprayer, some clippers and a rake.
As soon as green-up occurs, head out to your hunting property with your backpack sprayer filled with the appropriate mix of water and Round-Up. Now find your various best access routes to your stands and spray a path through the newly growing vegetation all the way to your set-up. This will kill any plant growth present and will keep any tall vegetation from growing up along your access route. By eliminating this potential growth, you’re one step closer to a quick and quiet approach. You might want to check your paths later in the summer, and re-apply Round-Up if new growth has come up.
Secondly, you’ll also want to pay attention to any hanging limbs, shrubs, or briars that obstruct your path. Anything that may block your way, catch your pant legs, or otherwise rub against you or make a noise while walking should be removed with the help of your clippers. Again, the point here is to clear and quiet your path.
Finally, use your rake to remove as much debris and leaves from your path as possible. Yes, more leaves will drop down in the fall, but at least you’ll have less to deal with, especially in the early season. And, you also have the option of returning to some of these access routes on a rainy day just before or during the season, and quietly raking away any new leaves as well. A lot of the noise I’ve made when hiking to stands comes from snapping twigs and dead branches, so be sure to remove those as well.
As Winke said, the true chess match of whitetail hunting is in the selection and preparation of proper entry/exit routes. If you want to consistently kill mature bucks, you’re going to need to start making the right moves in this annual game of wits.
I’d propose that the spraying, clipping and raking of your access routes will turn out to be some great first moves for your pawns.