Let's face it, when the rut is on, it is sometimes appropriate to sit all day in one tree stand or at the very least be in the woods all day, in multiple stands. However, when you sit all day, do you have enough gear to climb Everest? Here are 3 basic all day rut strategies to keep your pack lite and your success rate high.
*Each piece of gear you add to your day pack, is 1 piece closer to making enough noise or taking up enough space in the tree, to spook a mature buck. Even on my hour long treks into remote public land locations, I rarely even take a pack, let alone a giant supply of Deer Spooking Gear.
3 Basic All Day Rut Sit Strategies
The more gear that you carry, the more likely you are to spook deer. I typically hunt high pressure regions. What high pressure means is that I'm not hunting where there are lots of people typical of urban areas where deer are used to living in close proximity with people. That's not high pressure. Instead, I typically hunt in areas or states that have a high number of hunters per square mile, all going after the same mature bucks. In high pressure areas you can't afford extra sounds, shapes or smells in the woods, so making sure that you find the balance of just right when it comes to bringing enough gear or not, is critical to your success. I have literally observed hunters head into the "wilderness" of their 40 acre parcel, with more gear than someone expecting to survive a climb up Mount Everest. After witnessing hunters being over-geared it is easy to finish the ending to this phrase, "you know you have overpacked when...." Here are 3 ways to maintain your focus, when it comes to taking along the priorities during an all day rut sit:
1. All Day Food and Water
Cookies, candy and large bottles of water are great, but what is really necessary? I'm diabetic and my diet has to be regulated. I have to test my sugar and I can't fall asleep in the woods without pumping my carbs up a bit to make sure that I don't have a low while sleeping in the middle of nowhere, and die. But still, I don't bring a lot of food because it isn't necessary - even for me to survive. Instead, I prefer the 100 calorie, 22 carb gel packs for athletes, and a couple of meal bars. For water, I like to drink like a camel before the walk out, and rarely if ever, bring water. Less food or water means less noise, movement and the potential for spooking deer and amazingly enough - I still survive!
2. Hunting Clothing For Comfort and Survival
Now this is where I splurge. However, I actually wear my excess comfort, instead of placing into a bulky pack. Whether it is my Sitka Fanatic Jacket, bibs or any other form of Sitka Gear, I crave the highest quality clothing to keep me warm and dry all day no matter what the conditions. For temperatures that range from 20 degree morning starts to the high 30s for daytime highs or even colder, I love to layer up with quality long johns, bibs, a high end Sitka heavy weight hoodie, vest and high quality jacket like the Fanatic. I also wear a hand warmer muff that doubles as my "pack", a facemark (sometimes 2) and then an insulated, brimmed hat, preferably with Gore-tex or at least Windstopping material.
One if the great things about great hear, is that it wicks moisture extremely well! Most of the time I wear clean clothes, get sweaty going into the stand and let my stand position determine my scent control downwind. My stand access routes average over a 1/2 hour, 1 way, typically uphill most of the way in, and downhill going out. My access is typically on 40 acres and when I hunt public land that access routes are even longer. The last thing I want when I get to a stand is to start getting dressed, while leaving a pile of scent, and creating an enormous amount of extra risk for a deer to see or hear me. I simply hit my ladder or climber, and head up; quickly! Great gear let's me be very quiet, warm, wick the sweat heading in and to be comfortable all day. While I limit the food, water and deer gear I take to the stand, I never skimp on the best clothing, no different than a Mount Everest climber.
3. Essential All Day Sit Gear
Even on public land, I leave all of my field dressing and meat packing gear in the truck. Do you shoot a deer every time you hunt? Neither do I, so I prefer to leave all of the deer processing gear at the truck, the 95% of the time I don't shoot a deer. My priority of gear rests on a high quality flashlight (not headlamp), cell phone, compass (in remote public land), grunt call, 2 meal bars, a few gel packs and my small sugar tester for my diabetes.
*I purchased these used "Mickey Mouse" boots nearly 30 years ago at a military surplus store, but they still do the trick. Yesterday I used them to pass two 4 year olds and 5 other bucks during a highly defined, Precision Cold Front opportunity. With a 24 degree start to the day, my old boots and Sitka Gear, did not let me down!
I have experienced that the amount of gear, goodies and quality level of clothing you take to the stand for an all day rut sit, has a direct relationship to your potential success. It is deceiving at times because in high population suburban hunting or in low hunting pressure states such as Kansas, Iowa or Kentucky, you can bring everything and the kitchen sink while not spooking much. However, when it comes to the typical high pressure states like MN, WI, MI, OH, PA, IN and ANY, less is a lit more when heading into the woods for an all day rut sit. Zippers, snaps, Velcro, wrappers scree tops and large packs can all kill your odds with a mature buck, as well as skimping on your outerwear.