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Morken: Summer deer-hunting work will pay off in the fall

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A group of Millennium tree stands prepared and ready to be hung during a hot day on July 4. (Eric Morken | Echo Press)2 / 2

July 4 is often spent on the water in the Alexandria area with family and friends, and this year's holiday was a perfect day for that.

Temperatures were near 90 degrees on a hot and humid afternoon. Hanging out on the lake would have been a good idea, but I was hanging tree stands with bow hunting season less than three months away. Between work and family time, I have to get out in the woods when I can, and this was one of my lone chances with weekends filling up fast in the coming weeks.

I went into the day with a gameplan after studying trail camera photos from the past three seasons. One spot in particular jumped out at me in terms of how I might need to change things up with my approach to hunting it.

This spot features a tree line that intersects two small crop fields. On one side is corn this year and on the other where the tree line meets a ridge is a small area of grass that leads to more corn. Good bedding cover sits about 100 yards to the west. Deer like to come off that ridge and move through that grassy strip along the trees before heading out to feed.

The ridge is on the south side of the property and runs east to west. This has always been a spot I've hunted with a north wind, mostly because that was the safest wind to use in terms of accessing the stand from a field up top.

I have game camera pictures of nice bucks in this spot, though I had yet to see one while in the stand. I went back to those game camera photos earlier this summer trying to find answers. Wunderground.com gives historical weather data that provides great information - temperatures, wind speeds, wind direction and barometric pressure. What I found is that every nice buck I have on camera in this spot was on a south wind.

It makes sense. The bedding cover on this ridge is perfect for that wind direction. Deer can look down into the field below them and let the wind blow from the top over their back. The number one priority for bucks old enough to have learned a thing or two is survival, so where they bed will often be determined on where they can best detect predators through sight and smell.

Finding a new stand setup to accommodate a south wind was my first order of business on July 4. There is sparse tree cover along the corn, but that's where I needed to be.

I stood in that grass and stared at my surroundings for about 15 minutes. There was only one tree that would work, and it would take quite a bit of preparation.

It had the makings of a perfect location. The tree next to it had blown over during a bad storm last summer and got caught on a limb. I positioned my stand accordingly so the fallen tree provides great background cover.

It took me two hours and a little chainsaw work to get my Millennium hang-on stand positioned perfectly. Covered in sweat, I sat in the tree to think.

I love that feeling of getting a new stand ready to hunt in mid-summer and picturing what it could lead to in a few months. My mind drifted to a 40 degree day in late October where I can slip into the stand undetected an hour before daylight. That buck will come right off the ridge to within 15 yards and provide me with the perfect broadside shot.

It always works perfectly in my imagination. That's why hanging deer stands in 90 degree heat in July never really feels like work. It's worth it to be comfortable and confident for those long sits when the temperatures cool this fall.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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