3 Terrain Features You Should Be Using To Access Your Whitetail Stands

3 Terrain Features You Should Be Using To Access Your Whitetail Stands

Access is everything. This refrain is uttered a billion times a year in the whitetail-sphere. Often, by the most prominent and accomplished voices in the space. Do you know why?

Because it’s true.

If you don’t think through how you get into, and out of, your stand sites, then you have problems. Period. While it’s highly dependent on your local terrain, there are some features of the landscape that are ubiquitous across the whitetail’s range, which can help you shortcut this issue.

The first one is probably the most common, and also probably the most underutilized.


I recently hung a stand set along a waterway that bisects a huge ag field. The subtle ditch starts at a county road and terminates at the edge of a wooded hillside. Both sections of the field are planted in corn, which borders a neighbor’s farm that is planted in soybeans.

The idea is, I can park half a mile away, along a fairly busy road during morning hunts. Then, I’ll just slip in through the waterway, where eight-foot-tall corn will cover my approach. The local deer will have no clue I’m going in there, and it’ll provide me with a high-odds spot to sit during mornings in the early season.

Ditches are king for access. Irrigation ditches, road ditches, and really any kind of ditch, can allow you to get where you need to go while avoiding detection. They can also allow you to park your vehicle so it’s not visible, which is a consideration in ag-heavy and open ground.

Pay attention to ditches. Generally, they allow you to get low and sneaky instead of staying at the deer’s level and getting busted. They also, at least in the case of irrigation ditches, often create killer pinch points for stand sites. Just like streams and rivers.

Moving Water

Everyone knows that whitetails love rivers and streams. I certainly do. But, I love them for more than their pounded crossings which concentrate movement, and their proximity to deer-friendly cover. They also allow for some of the best access out there.

Moving water means noise, which can audibly cover your entrance and exit. Moving water also does something else, it erodes the land that it runs over (and through). This carving away of the landscape works in the deer hunter’s favor because it often creates banks that we can use to obscure our movements.

Better yet, a lot of streams and rivers are perfect for walking. Sandbars, rocky shores, and many waterways in general, allow for easy point A to B travel. This rule doesn’t apply to all moving water, so you still have to know what you’re getting into. Deep water, slick mud banks, and unruly deadfalls with piles of flood detritus aren’t your friend. In fact, they can be downright dangerous.

Each waterway is different. But generally, if you need to get somewhere undetected in the deer woods, moving water is going to be a net asset.

Up and Down Terrain

Easy access is something that will lead you to other hunters. If you’re on private land that might not matter. But if you hunt pressured deer, easy access is the enemy. Not only does it concentrate hunting pressure, it also creates the perfect opportunity for you to get busted going in and coming out.

If you have to go uphill to get to your spot, you’re onto something. My favorite scenario for bluff land whitetails is to park at the bottom of a steep hillside where my first move is to hike uphill. If I can identify a stand site right at the top, like on an oak ridge or along a meadow, then it’s even better.

This allows me the chance to leave my competition behind while staying out of view of most deer for a good portion of my entrance and exit travel. This sounds too simple, I know, but it’s not. The truth is that using uphill, and in some cases downhill, movement to access stand sites is a great way to stay undetected.

The best bet with this strategy is to know your trail really well. Tack it, flag it, and if you can, walk it, with your Tracker feature on onX.

Either way, figure out how to use the terrain to your advantage. This might involve a simple ditch, a meandering trout stream, or simply parking your truck along a gravel road at the base of a towering bluff. However you do it, you’ll be doing it in a way that cuts down on your chances of tipping off the local bucks to your presence when you slip in to set up, which is like half the game when it comes to consistently filling tags.

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