QUESTION: How close should you park your atv to your stand? When walking in to your stand, if you clean a path to your stand to try and be as quiet as possible, will this alert the deer to the point where they leave the area? — Brandon K.
ANSWER: Ah, Brandon, that’s two questions. But as I’m in the holiday spirit, I’ll answer both. In fact, I’ll add a third: should you drive at all? That will depend on circumstances, which can vary, sometimes considerably, from one location to another. If they’re not familiar with it, or have learned to associate it with danger, the sound of an ATV can drive deer completely out of the local woodlot. However, if the area receives any sort of regular ATV traffic, you may actually be better off driving than walking. Deer often seem to be less alarmed by motor vehicles than the steady pace of human footsteps.
If you can get someone to drop you off, it may even be advisable to drive right to your stand, then keep driving away. Otherwise, I’d recommend you stop at least 200 yards shy of your stand — preferably downwind, and walk the rest of the way.
Clearing a path to your stand to quiet your final approach is definitely a good idea, so long as you do it well ahead of hunting season. I have a stand that sits within gun range of a bedding area. This summer I cleared a walking patch and cut shooting lanes with a chain saw and was able to hunt it this fall.