I just bought a ladder stand and I was wondering if this kind of stand will spook the deer. How long should I let it sit before I hunt that stand? -- Jeff Dearing, Canton, Ill.
LADDER STANDS SPOOKING BUCKS?
Jeff Dearing asks if ladder stands spook deer and if so, how long must he wait before hunting a recently installed ladder stand?
Deer will get used to almost anything if it is in their environment long enough. I have a friend who is convinced that if he could stand in the middle of his clover food plot day and night for two weeks the deer would start feeding all around him even though he looked and smelled like a person. I will let him be the test pilot on that one, but the point is well made — deer will adapt quickly to things they have tested and found to be harmless.
I think Larry's two weeks is a good low-end standard. A month is better, but if the stand is up for at least two weeks prior to you hunting it, I think the deer will be moving past it without stopping to stare at it all the time.
Another important aspect of ladder stands has to do with where you place them. I always try to place my stands on the back of the tree (away from the direction I expect the deer to approach) whenever possible. This way the deer aren't as apt to see me. With a ladder stand, you are more likely to be in the open than with other stand types because the nature of the design requires that a branch free part of the tree is required. Setting up on the backside of the tree is a big part of assuring that deer won't see you. Yes, you will probably have to stand to shoot, but that is better than having the deer staring and snorting at you.