I’ll come right out and say it up front: sitting in a tree all day is tough. Really tough. Thirteen hours on a two foot platform, 25′ up in the air, can be enough to make someone go crazy, especially if the deer aren’t moving. That said, there is nothing more effective in hunting than time spent afield. You have certainly heard the phrase, “You can’t kill ’em from the couch.” Oh, how true that is. If you can do one thing to boost your success, it is to spend more time hunting.
I prefer to hunt from the ground when possible; whether that is still hunting, spot-and-stalk, or even setting up an ambush from the ground. The reason that I hunt from a treestand is simple – it is the most effective way to hunt the property that I have access to. When I have the time to make a trip to my public land honey hole, then I will be hunting from the ground. But, the majority of my hunting is done on land that is close to home, and isn’t conducive to hunting from the ground for several reasons (terrain, size, surroundings, etc.). I say all of that to point out, I realize how hard it can be to confine yourself to a treestand for a few hours, much less for over a dozen.
Let’s take a look at how to make all day, dark-to-dark treestand hunts possible…
Whether or not you make it through an all-day sit is determined well before you put on your boots, grab your stand, and get to your tree. You won’t make it all day unless you determine to do so well beforehand. Like many other aspects of hunting, the battle of staying out all day is mostly mental. What happens when you get tired, or hungry, or think that you won’t have any luck in this spot? What happens when you get 3, 4, or 5 hours in and haven’t seen a thing? What happens when the wind picks up? What happens if _________. Unless you have predetermined to stick it out, then you are more than likely going to talk yourself into climbing down for one of a million reasons. Can you do it? Sure, if you decide to.
There are several key items that are required for your comfort on an all-day sit: your stand, your clothes, and your food/drink.
I simply cannot make it all day in most hunting stands. Really small platforms and really uncomfortable seats won’t do for more than a few hours. My stand of choice for an all-day sit is my Summit Viper. I can sit and stand silently, but most importantly of all, I can be comfortable in a variety of positions with this stand. Honestly, the only thing I don’t like about this stand for all-day sits is that it is too easy to fall asleep in.
It is imperative that you dress smart for an all-day sit. The key idea here is to layer properly. I don’t know about your area, but where I hunt in Missouri I can easily begin the morning at 30 degrees, face 70+ degree temps in the afternoon, and then be back down in the 30s by the end of my hunt. If you are going to make it through a 40+ degree temperature swing you have to dress smart. Be sure to start off cool in the morning, because as you hike into your stand location and then get settled up in your tree you will quickly warm up. I don’t put my warmest layers on until an hour or so after I have settled in. The worst thing you can do is get sweaty on the way in, and then sit there in the cool air.
I can easily skip a meal or two for a half-day hunt, but when I am confined to a tree all day it is too easy to let my hunger dictate my will. I have to have plenty to eat and drink for an all-day sit. My favorites include: sandwiches, apples, peanut butter crackers, and jerky. Keep a close eye on your sugar intake, which will give you a quick boost, but also cause a crash. Try to eat something that will “stick”.
This is probably one of the most interesting topics to discuss for an all-day sit. So many people have different approaches to passing the time. I like to just watch the woods, and spend the peace and quiet thinking about life. I will bring a book on most occasions, but I don’t find myself reading very much. In this fast-paced, overly-entertained culture, this will be the hardest aspect of an all-day hunt for most people. Many hunters like to be “connected” via their smart phones. I will admit that there are many advantages to having games or the Internet, but that just isn’t for me. The key here isn’t how you pass the time, but that you have something that will help you do it. Be out there! If that means you need a game, or your smart phone, or a book, or something else – then so be it!
The moment you have been waiting for has finally come. A deer is approaching and you need to get ready. This isn’t an easy transition to make after being idle in the stand for hours upon hours. On my last hunt I had a great encounter with a buck after I had spent nearly 12 hours in the stand. How do you keep yourself fresh for when the moment comes?
For me to stay ready at any time I have to do a few things. One, I stand for at least 15 minutes of every hour on the stand. Standing helps loosen my muscles and gets the blood flowing. Two, I draw my bow at least once every hour. Sitting in the cold will have massive implications for your ability to comfortably draw your bow and hold steady. Three, I setup a routine of carefully scanning my surroundings at least once every 20 minutes. I find that by doing so I force myself to stay alert and mentally ready for anything, at any time.
Trial By Fire
This type of hunt doesn’t come easy, but it does get easier. You have to build experience and find out what works for you. The first few all-day sits will be tough, but it will get easier as you train your mind and body to make it through. Everyone has their preferences, and everyone has their own comfort items that help make them make it through. Get out there and find what works for you.