Last fall, veteran whitetail hunter Mike Rex took his 11th Pope and Young buck in 13 years of hunting southeast Ohio. And all but a few of these deer were taken from evening stands.
Rex’s success spurred me to put more emphasis on late-day hunts, and this past season, I shot my largest buck, an 11-pointer, at 5 p.m. I now understand what Rex has known for years-that focusing on evening stands pays dividends. Here are five reasons to spend more time in them:
(1) You’ll bump fewer deer. Early morning is rush hour in the woods. You never know where deer will be, and you can’t see them to avoid unwanted encounters. “On the other hand, deer are usually bedded down when you travel to an evening stand,” says Rex. “Give bedding areas plenty of leeway, and you can get into position without seeing flags.” You can also still-hunt along the way to your ambush.
(2) You’ll make a quieter approach. Dead-calm mornings magnify the sound of crunching leaves and snapping twigs, whereas afternoon breezes often mask footfalls. “You’re also not rushing to beat daylight in the afternoon,” says Rex. “You have time to be more careful.”
**(3) You can hunt after work. **That’s exactly what Rex did two years ago when he tagged his biggest buck to date, an 8-pointer that scored 156 P&Y.; His tree stand was situated close to a road and could be accessed quickly. So scout out an area that is close by and easy to get to.
**(4) You can set up in a new spot and hunt the stand immediately. **Afternoon hunts are the only way to go when picking a new stand location. It takes clear vision to find a tree that offers shooting lanes within range of deer sign. “I’ve tried too many times to do this before sunrise, with dismal results,” says Rex. “I invariably make too much noise setting up and find myself in a lousy location when day breaks.”
(5) Scent problems are reduced. “In the morning, dew keeps your scent alive and more detectable to deer,” advises Rex. “Because the ground is usually dry in the afternoon, your scent doesn’t linger as long.” This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about scent. Don the rubber boots and refrain from touching any brush, as usual. But this is yet another slight advantage to hunting the afternoon. And most of us will take all of those we can get.