The "what ifs" make us stay in the deer stand longer. What happens when the "what if" leaves us empty handed? It can be easy to talk yourself out of a tree to get down for lunch or warm up. The excitement for the season's opener kept you in the saddle, and now that we are halfway through, it almost feels like torture to remain on stand beyond 10 AM or get in the stand before 3 PM.
Here's the truth: what ifs are very real in the whitetail woods, but they don't happen often. I only know a handful of people that can sit dark to dark. Even though those hunters make it appear seamless, they know what it takes to rise to the occasion.
Avoid Cat Naps
It seems counterintuitive. Why not catch just a few Zzs to fill dead space? Jeremy Dinsmore, host of The Antler Up Podcast, was quick to answer when I asked for his number one tip for an all day sit.
"Naps are no good. The times I've dozed off have made me feel groggy, and that lack of focus can really stomp on how well I hunt. If I need a little caffeine to keep me going, I'll do it. Missing the smallest detail of a deer in the distance means a missed opportunity to attempt to call that deer in. It could even mean being complacent with movement while a deer is in eyeshot of your location. That's a ruined hunt without evening knowing it could have been better!"
Jeremy's immediate response of "Don't nap" would have made my ears prick and drawn my attention if I were listening to him give a seminar. That goes against what most whitetail experts would tell you. Cat naps are often viewed as a way to keep you on stand longer and give you a little pep.
Take Mental Breaks
I've got a lot of friends that hunt, but my longest standing hunting buddy, Adam Good, hunts more all day sits than anyone I've ever met. I'm sure he would disagree, but he sits all day religiously and seemingly unphased. Adam has told me his secrets for all day hunts our whole life, but I checked in with him before writing this to make sure nothing has changed. This is Adam's secret.
"My secret isn't all that secret. Mental breaks throughout the day are a must. If that means something simple like I stop staring deep into thick brush to stare at my feet or play the latest top charts song in my head, I'll make that happen. The key is to set a time limit on the recess. If you go too far down a rabbit hole scrolling on your phone, you could find yourself an hour into not paying attention. If the phone is how you check out for a second, be strict about limits."
Cliche? I don't think so. The world is fast paced and has made us believe no one can slow down to smell the roses. If there is one patient person in the world, it has got to be my Uncle. That man is passionate about any form of deer hunting. I had the privilege of watching Kent hunt and learning from him. The info he gave me to share with you is easy to understand but a whole lot harder to practice. Kent said:
"All day sits fully require your patience. Your scouting has told you where the deer want to spend their time. Don't second guess it; just stay sitting. Use the quiet opportunity to imagine deer in your shooting lanes and executing a shot. Take in the surroundings, like the wildlife doing things you've never seen. Talk with God throughout the day, not for the chance to make a kill, but just to thank him for being alive and to be in a place where hunting is possible. You won't understand the overwhelming sense of God in the woods until you've taken the time to thank him."
Kent's approach is close to the founding father of modern bow hunting, Fred Bear. "Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person."
Play the Long Game
As my Uncle described, patience is the most important skill. But there are other ways to be patient, as Lucas Ruff from Lone Wolf Custom Gear explains.
"Patience isn't only waiting long hours for a deer to walk by. It also takes patience to wait for the right time to hunt. To buckle in for an all day sit, conditions have to be right. When you scout for deer, you're looking for food, terrain, and cover to merge in one place. Time of day, weather, and phase of the season are the merging of conditions that will create the best all day sits. This could be a cold front at the tail end of the pre-rut when signs of daylight movement have ramped up. Watch for bucks that shift from bed to bed. A setup that puts me smack in the middle of their travel is what I need to make me believe I can be successful. Being flexible is part of an all day sit as well. Gut feelings aren't something to ignore. I'll get up and move if something changes for the worse. There's a reason we take the time to learn about the places we hunt. Even though they seem like a hunch, intel equals education. Put it together, and you get answers."
Snacks, games, books, and mental tricks are all part of the arsenal for most all day hunters. Of course, you'll have to figure out what it takes to stay longer. But one thing to remind you is to learn from someone better than yourself. Someone you can say, "That guy is cut from steel in a whitetail stand."
The time for all day sits has arrived. If you're that hunter, ready to give all day sits a try, it is go time.
Author: Aaron Hepler Exodus Black Hats Team Member