Non-hunters have the misperception that deer are defenseless against hunters, that they simply walk out in the woods with a six-pack and a lawn chair and start blasting away. They don’t understand that deer have very formidable defenses, they aren’t tooth and claw. Instead, they have their ears, eyes, and nose. And as every deer hunter knows, their visual acuity is superhuman.
Recent studies have shown that deer process visual stimuli much faster than humans, which has the effect of slowing down the action. This fact is especially true at sunrise and sunset. So it’s vitally important for success that your treestand and you sitting in it are well concealed. There are several effective ways to accomplish this, and we’ll take a look at some easy and affordable methods of tree stand concealment.
The Basics Of Tree Stand Concealment
There are several fundamentals of concealing your presence to keep in mind whenever you are in your tree stand or moving through the woods to and from it.
- Scent Management
Camouflage Everything – There was a time back in the day when camo for hunters wasn’t all that popular. The usual hunting outfit was a red shirt and brown pants. But that changed almost overnight in the 80s and suddenly camo clothing and accessories were everywhere. And there’s no doubt that that has been a significant advantage for hunters because it works. Today you can not only camouflage yourself but your weapon, your stand, the steps leading up to it, everything. All the gear that you can conceal should be.
Break Up Your Silhouette – That’s the primary purpose of camo obviously, but texture breaking up your form can be achieved with your natural surroundings, trees, limbs, terrain, etc. Anything you can use to break up that big solid man-sized silhouette will help.
Set Up Early – Give yourself plenty of time to move slowly and quietly to your stand area to allow the unavoidable noise and movement you’ll make to die down and the deer to get settled. Get up in the wee hours and moving to your stand while it’s still dark outside, it’s worth it.
Keep Quiet – A deer can hear you a long ways away. Always be as quiet as possible in the woods, and especially in your stand. Always look around carefully before you make a move, and then do it slowly and smoothly. Try to avoid jerky movements. And secure any gear that can rattle or clank when you move.
Eliminate Your Scent – Being up in a tree stand helps to keep your human scent above ground level, but you should take steps to minimize it as much as possible. Any sporting goods store will have scentless soaps and laundry detergent to wash yourself and your clothes with before a hunt. There are tons of covering scents available that can help a lot too. Consider bringing along a milk jug for bathroom breaks. Avoid smoking or anything else that produces a strong smell.
In short, use every weapon and tactic at your disposal to defeat the deer’s natural defenses.
Tree Stand Concealment Methods
To outwit the wily deer, you have to get resourceful. Here are some useful and informative videos to give you some great ideas and inspiration for improving your tree stand concealment this season.
PVC And Burlap Camouflage
This video shows an easy and inexpensive way to camouflage a fixed ladder treestand with a DIY treestand blind. Buy some PVC tubing and PVC glue at the hardware store and build a frame to sit on the platform area of your stand.
Then hang camo burlap or netting from the framework to conceal yourself, each of which is readily available at your local sporting goods store, and cut some viewports.
You could also do the same thing of course with some old sheets and sprayed on camo patterns, though the burlap is cheap enough you might not want to bother. You might also think about wrapping some grapevines or other brush around the ladder supports. Just make sure you don’t create a tripping hazard.
Camouflage a Climbing Tree Stand
Here’s a hunter showing how he did a quick and easy camo job on his brand new Lone Wolf Assault II climber, one of the most popular climbing treestands ever made. All it takes is a few cans of Rustoleum flat spray paint and an ordinary kitchen sponge.
You’ll want to first primer coat the whole frame, and grey is a natural choice, then add some brown stripes horizontally across it. Put on the finishing touches of green paint daubed on with the sponge for an indistinct pattern.
Or through practice, you can make up your own distinct pattern. You’ll make a significant improvement in your stand concealment while protecting your investment.
DIY Deer Stand Skirts
Here’s how to make durable and long-lasting camo skirts for either a climbing stand or a dual ladder stand. This method also works for making a treestand canopy. This project is a little more involved and requires some skill with a sewing machine, but the results are worth it.
The first step is to buy a large section of heavy cotton camouflage fabric, which you should be able to find at any fabric store, along with some outdoors sewing thread and Velcro attaching strips.
Next, you’ll be using your sewing machine (or maybe talk the wife into doing it if you don’t know how) to reinforce the edges of the skirt by folding over a narrow strip and sewing it together. Attach Velcro strips along that edge to hang it from your stand.
Once complete, you’ll be able to hang your homemade treestand blind however you’d like from your position, to conceal your feet and legs, or even up higher if you prefer. If you take your time and do it right, these skirts will last for years of use in the woods.
Brush In Your Stand with Branch Holders
Brushing is one of the oldest tricks used by ground hunters everywhere, and it makes sense to take advantage of the natural cover in your tree stand too. As you can see, these days you can buy very inexpensive plastic branch holders that clip on to your stand and straps so that you can conceal yourself with natural foliage. This is so cheap and easy that every hunter should be doing it. Alternatively, if you want to do the poor man’s version, you can use zip ties and eye hooks to accomplish the same thing.
Camouflage Your Tree Sticks
If you prefer to use climbing sticks with your tree stand setup, you can disguise those too. Most of the sticks on the market today don’t come with very good camo, and this technique will work with any make or model.
It’s almost identical to the method used above to do a camo job on your tree stand. Just head out and buy some flat spray paint, grey, brown, and tan work well, and a regular sponge, and create your camouflage tree climbing sticks.
Remember that the objective is to break up their profile and to blend in with the tree bark background. You can even make it a family project like this hunter does. It will make a huge difference in your tree stand concealment.
With just a little bit of effort and ingenuity and a minimal monetary investment, you can effectively conceal a tree stand from alert deer and overcome their highly developed natural defenses. The result will be more successful hunts and more meat in the freezer.