You unconsciously but haphazardly lug a tree stand and steps on the way in to a hunting site, heavy metal clanking every step of the way. You lumber along and crack sticks. You bull through a patch of cover and jump as a deer boils out of there and runs off. Even a moderate amount of human intrusion this close to bow season can and will cause a mature buck to change his pattern. By the time you finally hang your set and start hunting in a few weeks, a big deer might have moved over to the next ridge to travel or bed.

The Fix: With rope or bungees, batten down a stand, steps, tools and all your gear in a tight backpack so you don’t clink and clang on the hike in to a stand location. Study maps and aerials, and try to avoid funnels, draws and cover pockets where you might bump into resting deer; chart a downwind path that avoids and flanks high-traffic deer areas.

Plan and execute smart, quiet and scent-free ingress every time you go in to hang a tree stand or climb up to hunt, and your chances of seeing and sticking Mr. Big double.