Bowhunting Tactics

What Time To Enter A Treestand?

enter a treestand

The only thing certain about what time you should enter a treestand, is that there is no set time that works for ever stand location. Whether you are hunting during the morning, afternoon or all day, there are several factors of timing that you need to consider when deciding when to head to your favorite treestand. Do you want to see and shoot more bucks each year? Then make sure to learn why you should never have a set time to enter a stand location.

*What are your morning, mid-day and evening Treestand Strategies?

To say that there is a set time to enter every treestand, is to not understand the deer movement at every treestand location. Every treestand has the perfect access time, for the particular time of day and time of season. While the estimation of when will be left to you for each individual treestand that you plan to enter this Fall, here are several clues that you should consider, before climbing into your next treestand.

Morning Treestand Entrance Tips

What time you should enter a treestand in the morning, can be best explained by the 3 basic options that you should analyze for each morning setup:

1. An Hour Before Daylight or More

This is a great option for locations like bedding areas that are more likely to have deer enter at daybreak or later. However, if deer are likely to travel downwind of your stand location prior to daylight, then the longer you sit in the dark, the greater the risk that your hunt will be spoiled before the sun comes up. If I enter a stand early, I make certain that the possibility of a buck that I am after cruising downwind of my location, is very low. Often, I choose to enter stand locations early, when my downwind scent is blocked in some manner, including: Cliffs, ponds, swamps, steep ravines and poor habitat, such as solid stands of conifer, solid switchgrass, or fallow, food-less fields.

2. During Gray Light at Daybreak

When the possibility of deer entering my downwind scent cone under the cover of darkness is high, I often choose to enter my stand during the period of gray light. I can still use the cover of darkness to slip thru the woods, while at the same time decreasing my risk of spooking deer downwind before my hunt even begins.

3. Post Daybreak Mature Buck Cruising Time

Do you have a giant ag field or open pasture to access thru? Then simply wait until the deer leave the field, and then head straight to your stand location, perpendicular to the expected line of deer travel. If you are worried about deer bedding along the field edge you will be accessing, then it sounds like a poor location to attempt a morning hunt, unless you can slip in from the exact opposite location and let the deer come back to your feet to bed.

enter a treestand

*The most important aspect of accessing a treestand, is there is no right answer for all stands, only right answers based on a host of factors, for each stand location. One of my favorite morning tactics for hunting cruising field edge bucks, is a post-daybreak Stand Entrance.

When To Access An Afternoon Stand Setup

While the end of daylight is always a shrinking target, what I focus on the most is how long I actually plan to sit. During all times but the rut, I like to plan for a solid, 3 hour sit. Because of blocked and hidden access there are certain stand or blind locations that I can easily slip into an hour to two hours before dark, even with deer in front of the stand location. However, hidden access late afternoon stand locations, do not make up the majority of my afternoon setups.

During the rut I most often switch stands from the hours of morning to afternoon. In those cases I rarely actually leave the woods. Depending on my experience with deer movement for the two stand locations I plan to hunt, I typically change stand locations between the hours of 11 and 1, with darkness typically settling in around 5:30 during that time of the season, in my SW WI location. If I am only hunting the afternoon hours during the rut, I often try to settle in 4-6 hours before dark if hunting a heavily wooded cruising location, and closer to 3-4 hours prior to dark if hunting a food source. The entire topic of an afternoon stand entrance boils down to 1 major factor: Beating the afternoon food source movement.


In the end, when you choose to enter a stand location should be when the deer are not, near your stand location. That seems like such a basic concept, yet hunters still express an exact time that they choose to enter a morning or afternoon stand location. By scouting, studying and understanding the deer movement in and around every stand location, your answer for when to hunt a certain stand, will be revealed to you. The timing of when to enter a stand location is very specific to each and every location and the more stand setups that you have, the more of a variety of timing, you should find.


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