RED: Old entrance, visible from entire wood block
WHITE: New entrances, not visible from entire wood block; via creek or timber ditch
I remember the first time that I heard the phrase "entrance & exit routes", and I am pretty sure it was an episode of Midwest Whitetail with Bill Winke. Yes, this is the 2nd post today mentioned MW and Bill. Aside from my own experiences out in the hunting woods, I have learned more from Bill than any other media content producer. I remember Bill talking about a route he had to take into and out of a stand which involved a creek bed. This was many years ago. I first though, "oh how brilliant is that!?" Yet, I have never looked so hard at such a topic. It is true. This can make or break a hunt.
Sadly, as an outfitter, I am limited with what my entrance/exit routes can be. They are usually 100% different than what they'd be if I were hunting on my own. I'd go through a creek for 1/2 a mile to get into the right stand setup. I can't say the same for the majority of my clients. It's hard enough getting guys to walk 3/4 to 1 whole mile one-way into a stand before involving a creek or a drainage ditch. So, when assigning stands for 2020, I will be much more critical of who is going where and why... this reason alone.
Designing the right entrance/exit route is impossible to do by looking at an aerial. You have to put boots to dirt and see it for yourself in-person. I have one stand that I am definitely changing the entrance/exit to. Normally, it is a 1.25 mile walk into the stand. That's 2.5 miles every day of walking in the dark. Yikes! It's remote and hard to get into. There is a drainage ditch that runs between the field and the stand about 15 yards into the timber. If we can get someone into it, either by using the downhill north creek access or the uphill south start of the ditch, we can eliminate a lot of visibility to this wood block... about 150-200 yards. This stand will be reserved for someone in a higher physical condition. I have another stand that is literally only 200 yards from the truck. Yet, before we were just sneaking right up to it. Instead, we will sneak in from the side, through the fence, and into the stand. Again, this will help with visibility. Noise is truly dictated by the level of moisture in the ground and leaves/sticks. Walking slower and softer is the only thing that can help there. Scent is dictated by the wind, but practicing proper scent control, we shouldn't have to worry much.
So, if you are hunting with me in 2020, you could have a difficult, moderate, or marginal difficulty with the entrance/exit route. If you definitely do not want a difficult or moderate entrance/exit route, be sure to talk to me about it as we get into August and September. Not everything will involve a belly crawl 1800 yards uphill. Yet, some people have serious physical restrictions. I have older gentlemen who hunt with me that have no business being in a tree 20' high let alone trying to cross a creek with a steep drop. I also have guys who could whoop my rear end to Rome and back without losing a breath. Those guys will be utilized with the harder setups.
Some stand setups are a poor entrance/exit because we simply don't have a choice. We take the risk to get in there because it is what it is. That's what we have. Some stands are like gifts from God with everything working in our favor 24/7. Most are in-between. We will make due with each stand sight, and as long as my hunters are onboard with this strategy, we should be content and successful. I've seen successful bowhunters who consistently kill big deer doing things that most won't. That is what makes them successful. Going the path less traveled with a harder but more secure entrance/exit route is usually one of the things done by those guys. If you're not willing to do it but are physically able, I ask for you to change your mind. It could be the difference maker at the end of the day.