Deer season is over, it’s time to go out to your hunting property and pull all your fixed-position and ladder stands. Many hunters leave their stands out all year, but for max maintenance and safety it’s best to take them down and take them home. If you hunt public land, you’re required by law to remove all stands until next season.

Back home, check each stand and ladder section. Spray all metal bolts and joints with a shot of WD-40 so they won’t rust further. Replace any worn and frayed ratchet straps and buy a good supply of new ratchets. Every season I add a brand-new ratchet tie-down to every one of my stands to ensure a double measure of safety. Check fabric or mesh seats and replace if worn or gnawed by squirrels.

If anything about a stand or ladder doesn’t look or feel just right and safe after your check, take that stand out of commission and do not hunt from it again. Buy a new stand or 2 or 3, no matter the cost. Your life literally depends on it.

Box Blinds

If you hunt from elevated box blinds on private property, walk around each one and double-check the wooden or metal legs and braces. High winds during winter can sway the boxes stands and loosen the legs or tie-downs. Re-tighten any loose legs or braces, or add more support struts or heavy-cable tie-downs if needed.

Remember to close and lock all blind windows and doors. A few years ago, I forgot to close a window on one of my towers, and when I returned to check the stand 7 months later in August, I got a rude surprise. Nasty turkey vultures had roosted in the blind for months! The box was painted white inside with liquid droppings and stunk to high heaven. It took me weeks to air out, clean and disinfect the stand.

If you secure all windows, you shouldn’t have a bird problem, but you will encounter wasps or hornets that build nests in some of your boxes.  When you come back to open each box before next season, be sure to carry plenty of bee spray and have it at the ready as you open each door, ready to fire. I hate spiders, so I also carry spider spray and treat the insides of all my blinds.