Avid whitetail deer hunters go to great lengths in search of mature bucks. From driving long distances to get into parts that few others go, to carrying around stinky deer pee that can’t be cleaned out of the fabric of your truck (believe me, I know from experience), to hunting in blizzards and rain storms and 30 below zero temperatures and sitting in a tiny little seat for 11 hours at a time. Let’s face it, avid deer hunters are a peculiar breed… but I’m proud to be one.
One of the strategies that has proven very effective for my brothers and I, as we’ve hunted for mature whitetails, is the dreaded all-day sit. Every person who has never done it will tell you that it’s awful and that they couldn’t do it; and I had similar feelings before I ever tried it. But with many years of employing this much-hated practice, I’m now a firm believer in it, so let me share with you why we feel so strongly about it and how we make it enjoyable.
Play The Odds
Of the last nine deer hunting trips where we sat all day, eight of those trips were successful between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. It’s pretty simple logic to say that spending more time in the woods increases your chances of succeeding… nothing new there. But taking a look at our most recent trips alone will convince anyone that it’s not just a simple matter of being in the bush; the mid-day hours are actually very productive.
Stay in The Game
My biggest struggle on all day sits is trying to stay focused and awake. Deer do not always announce their presence, so it’s important that you keep your eyes open and your focus on your surroundings so that you don’t miss an opportunity at a buck on the prowl. I like to create a bit of a schedule to help break up the day and keep my mind looking forward to something. That schedule includes:
- Using rattling and/or deer calls like grunts or bleats every 30 minutes. Some people think that this is too frequent, and I say: do what you think is best. I believe that on an all-day sit, if that deer didn’t respond to your first call or first rattling session within 30 minutes, then it either wasn’t close enough to hear it or it’s not coming in no matter what you do. So rather than miss out on another deer that is passing through, I will call or rattle again.
- Have a snack or a warm drink every hour. They key to snacks and drinks is to pack things that you are excited to eat and don’t make too much noise. I like to pack trail mix, jerky, peanut M&Ms, and chocolate bars. I am not a coffee drinker, so in my thermos I will bring soup broth or hot chocolate.
- Reading and playing on cell phones will definitely help pass the time, but avoid the urge, unless you are sitting over a bait site and the deer have to come right to you. Books and cell phones in the hands of a hunter have saved the lives of many deer!
Having frozen fingers or a tree knot sticking into your back will drive you back to camp faster than anything else. To enjoy an all-day sit, you need to be comfortable. Here’s a few things we’ve learned over the years that make our sits more comfy:
- Use a quality treestand with a comfortable seat. Even though we don’t like using climbing treestands for getting up the tree, we find that climbing treestands are extremely comfortable. We will use a ladder or steps to get up the tree and fix the climbing treestand into position with ratchet straps. Or if you’re hunting from a ground blind, it’s worth the extra weight to carry in a good quality chair. Whatever it is that you are using, do everything you can to make it comfortable, because the slightest discomfort becomes a big deal after the 10th hour!
- Always bring a cushion for your bottom. It’s sounds frivolous but believe me, it’s important. We always carry a good cushion to insulate our bottoms and keep them comfortable.
- Use a safety harness! It’s not uncommon to get a little sleepy on an all-day sit, so having a harness ensures that if you accidently nod off, you won’t wake up on the ground!
- Stay warm. In cold weather, we dress lightly walking to our stand, then put on the extra layers when we arrive there. We use charcoal warmers in our boots and in our gloves to keep our extremities warm, and we also love the ones for people with a sore back that wrap around your core and stay warms for over 12 hours.
As with most things in life, the biggest factor as to whether you will enjoy an all-day sit for whitetails or curse me for encouraging you to try it, is your mindset. You have to accept the fact that you will be there for the entire day. Don’t allow your mind to start thinking of excuses to get down and go for a walk, because those excuses will end up being your reality.
Sitting for 10-11 hours in a treestand is not the most exciting way to hunt, but it can be highly rewarding, and that’s why we do it every year. If you’re looking to up your game this season, prepare properly and give it a try. It just might be the ticket to getting your own monster whitetail.