Learn the Most-Productive Stand Sites to Take Deer
Day 1: Ronnie Groom Takes Deer in the Florida Swamps by Hunting Bottlenecks
Editor’s Note: What magic ingredients do the best deer hunters in the nation use to find the perfect tree-stand sites? What can we learn from hundreds of years of deer-hunting experience that will help each of us pinpoint places in the woods where we can take big deer? To learn the answers to these questions, we’ve interviewed seven of the nation’s deer-hunting experts. We’ll ask each of them to describe the best tree-stand site he ever has hunted from and to name what ingredients have made that particular site so productive that he’s bagged a big buck from that spot in the woods.
Ronnie Groom, a longtime avid deer hunter and teacher of outdoor skills, has hunted deer for over 50 years. Pound for pound, I still will put Groom, who has taken more than 150 deer with his bow, up against any of the nation’s best white-tailed hunters.
“One stand I really liked was near a bottleneck created by a ti-ti swamp,” Groom recalls. “About 300 yards of hardwoods were on one end of the bottleneck, and maybe 1000 yards on the other end. I had chosen a large oak tree that created plenty of shade, so that I would be hidden in my tree stand. On the lower end of the bottleneck (the 300 acres), I’d planted a 1/8-acre food plot that I knew does were using to feed. Southwest and north of the bottleneck was bad, wet and rough terrain. With no access to the bottleneck from any direction, these 300 acres were really a sanctuary for deer. On the north side was a young clear cut with a wet-weather creek running down the edge of it – the path the deer had to take. To hunt this area, I had to have a west wind. I knew a big buck stayed here because I’d seen big tracks and big rubs.
“Just at dark I spotted a huge 10 point about 70-yards from my stand. He saw a spike, ran the spike off and continued to come toward the green field. When the buck was 20 yards from me, I drew my bow and aimed right behind the buck’s shoulder. I released the arrow, and the shaft flew true. After taking the arrow, the buck only ran about 30 yards before he piled-up. The buck scored 125 points on the Pope & Young scale, which was a monster buck for a Florida deer.
“Besides having a perfect tree-stand site and knowing a big buck was in the region, I really believed that the major key to my success was that I waited for 2 weeks to hunt from this site. I wanted to make sure I had a west wind and that the rut was in before I hunted. Another important element that made this stand one of the best I ever hunted from was that I was hunting about 30-yards from the bottleneck in a tree that would allow me to shoot in all directions, regardless of which way the deer came to me.
“Bottlenecks are always productive places to take nice-sized deer. But just having a good tree site does not insure success. If you hunt a good tree-stand site without a favorable wind, that perfect tree stand site can be the worst one you ever have hunted from because you’ve destroyed your chances for taking a big buck there. The perfect tree-stand site will give me the option of shooting in several different directions because deer don’t always do what they’re suppose to do. The final element of a great tree-stand site is that it consistently produces. I’ve bagged 10 or 12 nice bucks from this stand over several years.”
Tomorrow: Jim Crumley Selects His Deer Stand Sites Carefully