Stand height for traditional archery

Triple C

Well-Known Member
Learned something new this weekend while hunting with one of Georgia's legends in the world of traditional archery. When I decided to try my hand at traditional archery, I met this gentleman and he became my mentor for all things traditional. He lives not too far from me so I spent quite a bit of time shooting with him 3 or 4 years ago. I've invited him to the farm to hunt over the years but things just never worked out until this weekend. Our calendar's aligned and it was game on.

I picked him up Friday morning and his weapon of choice was an osage self-made bow, river cane arrows and stone points, all made from his own hands. I'm like...okay, let's see how this works out. We arrive at the farm and I proceed to show him a number of stands already pre-set. He chose a couple of different stands to hunt friday evening and saturday morning without any luck. After saturday morning's hunt, he tells me he loves our stand locations for cruising and rut phase and they were ideal for compound bow hunting but too high for traditional equipment due to the sharp angle of a deer at 12 yds or less from the stand which is mostly where it all happens with trad equipment. He asks me to show him my best food source as of now. I immediately thought of a prolific persimmon prouder on the edge of the swamp and off we got to check it out.

It's love at first sight when he sees it and tells me he can't believe I don't have a stand overlooking that tree. So off we go back to the shop and grab a hang-on and 3 sections of a stick ladder. We go back, he hangs the stand not more than 10 ft off the ground and no more than 10 yds from the persimmon tree in a pine that had decent cover around it. I look at the low height of the stand and question his sanity thinking you gonna get busted trying to shoot out of that stand.

Off he goes at 5:30 to hunt that stand. I got a text at 6:30 of "doe down". The doe was no more than 5 yds from the tree and perhaps 12 ft below him as the pine set on a little knoll overlooking the persimmon tree. The angle of the shot, even at 10 ft high was so severely steep that he felt like he only hit one lung and wanted to wait to track the deer so he told me to hold tight...that he's gonna wait for a couple of hours before searching.

He also uses a string tracker taped to the front of his osage bow. He said only about 30 yds of line went out of the tracker and suddenly stopped. The deer dove back in the edge of the swamp with about half of the arrow sticking out from the entry hole so we knew there would be little to no blood trail. We returned to the cabin, ate a fine rack of baby back ribs I had cooked prior and then headed back down at 8:30...two hours after he shot the doe. As a side note, he lost his left eye years ago and also about one-third of the his periphery vision out of his right eye. I've shot with him a lot and not sure how he manages to shoot instinctive with no depth perception but mercy me...the guy can shoot a trad bow.

We arrive at the shot sight in front of the stand and pick up the white string that was attached to arrow and start following it into the edge of the swamp. I'm following the string, trying not to mire up in muck and even though I had snake chaps on, was a bit nervous of what we might bump in to wading through the muck. Low and behold, after a couple of zig zags, there lays the doe not 25 yds from where he shot. The string led us straight to her with no blood visible anywhere. The arrow was broken off at the point from where she fell and we were never able to recover the point.

Lessons learned...1) think traditional, not compound when hanging stands for trad bows - no higher than 12 feet. 2) A tiny stone point on the end of a river cane arrow that's not perfectly straight will freakin kill a deer! 3) Add a string tracker for easier tracking. 4) Forget setting a stand 20 ft high that allows me to see 50 yds out when the only thing that matters is 12 yds in front of me. 5) Use a rock climber's safety harness with the tether in front instead of in back in case you fall so that you will swing facing the tree rather than hang with your back to the tree and set the loop in the tree belt directly above the steps so that in the event of a fall, you are directly over the ladder/steps. 6) Wrap a piece of reflective tape on your arrow just below the fletching to pick it up with a flashlight in the dark.

This feller is 71, blind in one eye and still using a climber and hanging stands, and absolutely loves the outdoors. He's on a quest to take Georgia's big 5 with this particular self made bow, arrows and stone points. He added the deer to his total on his trip to my farm. He's already got the turkey and hog under his belt. He's still chasing a bear and gator. He leaves tomorrow to try and get it done on a N GA bear.

Quite the inspiration to be around someone so passionate about life and doing what he loves to do. And...I know exactly where I'll be hunting when I'm down in a couple of weeks - 10 ft high overlooking that persimmon tree.
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Gotta love a guy that can do it with primitive gear. Congrats to him.
A couple thoughts...

If you like the rock harness, try a tree saddle. I'm in love with mine. And they go hand in hand with lower stand height because you can keep the tree trunk in between you and the animal.

They make reflective arrow wraps. They glow like a florescent light when you shine a flashlight on 'em. 3 Rivers Archery sells them. They are on all my arrows.
Largest buck I ever killed with my BW recurve I shot from a stand that my feet were only 7 feet off the ground in a cedar tree because the tree would not allow me to hang a stand any higher...Mcalester Army Ammunition Plant...
Great story recap 3C! And what a nice clean and no doubt exciting hunt your friend put together and enjoyed. You can add that to one of the greatest hunts on your property, an exciting story with learnings to tell over and over through the years. Congratulations to both of you.
Nice Story.
Years back my one cousin used a tree that had a limb he could stand on not more than 10 feet off of the ground. He had deer walk under him almost every night he hunted there. No Movement is more important than how high you are, IMO.
You need to stick close to that fella. I'd wager you learn a few new things on every outing. Guys like that are rare.
Greatly appreciate all the comments guys! I absolutely love habitat work at the farm and all things that come with it. And I love being a part of others success in taking game from the farm, whether my boys, grandson or guests. But, I'm not much of a hunter when it comes right down to it. Having this gentleman down this past weekend really opened my eyes to what these guys that get it done with traditional archery equipment really look for when setting up to take a deer. This guy wanted me to show him a food source, in this case, persimmon tree that was starting to drop, and then look for multiple deer droppings around it. Not just a food source but a food source that was getting hit regularly with lots of poop sign around it.

I find it refreshing at 63 to think that learning something new never gets old and that you simply don't know what you don't know. Hopefully, another trad kill is coming my way this year. And, I intend to do an encore with him before the season ends.
Your friend sounds a lot like a gentleman from Athens, GA that I used to know quite well. Dan Quillian was an ardent traditional bowhunter and taught many people about the sport. He passed away about 12 years ago and I don't think his shop in Athens is open any more. I miss these old timers and most of them were always happy to pass along their knowledge.
Jack - It's a small world. I knew Dan quite well. Spent many, many hours in his shop with the boys shooting bows and have one of his longbow hunters on my wall. My oldest son shoots one of his canebrake recurves. He was one of the pioneers in the trad bow hunting world in GA. To this day, I still wear one of his branded Rattler's brand chamois cloth shirts I bought back around 1989 or 1990.
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