Not a lot of people here in the west use treestands for the hunting of mule deer and rocky mountain elk. Treestands are used a ton back east in the pursuit of whitetail deer. But let me tell you they work just as well for our big western Muleys. Over the past eight years my brother and I have used treestands here in Utah with a lot of success. Let me give you some tips and recommendations that can help you fill some tags this coming archery season.
The first thing you need to do is find a good trail, when I say good I mean a trail that has been pounded by all kinds of wildlife from deer to elk and even coyotes. Now you can put a treestand right on that trail but doing this will increase your chances of a person stumbling onto your stuff. With this scenario the likely hood of your equipment being stolen or used is more likely. Instead of placing it on that main trail, put your treestand on a side trail, a trail that leads to this big, busy trail; kind of like a freeway on-ramp. This might surprise you but mule deer are lazy; they like to conserve energy and take the easiest path possible, so they’ll follow the trail to your treestand location.
The second thing you want to do is start looking for a perfect tree. Pick a distance you are comfortable with shooting, and look for a good tree anywhere within that distance. The further you can get away from where you think the deer will be passing through the better chance you have of him not spotting you, but if you can’t hit him in the first place than it does not matter if he sees you anyways. I like being 30 to 40 yards away from the side trail, but I’ve had stands as close as 15 yards away from the trail.
Third, make sure the tree has lots of cover, like the photo above. As much cover as you can work with at your treestand location. You need still need to be able to stand up comfortably and quietly, (you should practice this) but be conservative on what cover you cut away on the tree, you can’t put branches(cover) back after you have cut it off. If the tree slightly leans back it makes it easier to sit there for longer. Just the same, if it is leaning forward then you can find yourself slipping out of your chair, so pick your treestand location wisely.
Lastly pay attention to what direction your treestand is facing. If you are sitting in the stand and it is facing east then the sun will be in your face in the morning and at your back in the evening. You will have the best luck of the buck not seeing you if the sun is at your back. Doing this make it so if the buck is facing you he is looking into the sun, and this lets you get away with more movement. If you are looking into the sun and the sun is behind the buck then I promise you he will see you move as you draw back. Even the smallest movements are significantly more visible when you’re in full sun. I hope you can use these tips to your advantage and bring a big one home this year! Let me know if you have any questions I can answer.