Tried and true. A “go-to” stand. But how often does that “go-to” stand that you repeatedly sit over and over in actually end up with a mature buck harvest? It may pan out every once and awhile, but more times than not (and I’ve been guilty of it as well) you find what you think is a great spot and hunt it time and time again with no luck. Once you pick a spot after doing some scouting, hang a stand and hunt it a few times, you get attached and have a feeling of investment. You think to yourself that it will eventually be good and as long as you sit it enough, there’s bound to be a buck that runs by. But what if it’s not a good spot? What if you waste hours in a tree when you could be seeking a new and improved stand site simply because of your own stubbornness? This is where the idea of a “Run N Gun” setup and mobile hunting comes into play.
What is a Run N Gun Deer Hunting Setup?
In short, when you are a mobile hunter and need a Run N Gun setup, most hunters are using a lightweight hang on treestand with climbing sticks. The two most important aspects of a good hang and hunt system in my eyes are ease of use and weight. The idea is to be able to throw your stand and sticks on your back, hike in to wherever you’re hunting, quickly and quietly hang the stand, hunt, and then pull the stand when you get down. In its most basic form, it should allow you to pretty much hunt wherever you want at any given time.
My hang and hunt system consists of a Hawk Helium Treestand (10.5lbs) with a set of three Hawk Helium climbing sticks (2.8lbs each). The sticks stack on each other very easily, allowing them to be fairly slim. I can strap the sticks to the stand and throw everything on my back as I head out to hunt. The biggest thing I can stress here is actually practicing and coming up with a system that you are comfortable with. Two of the most important things to me when it comes to setting up a hang and hunt stand are being quiet and quick. In order to be efficient in this manner, you need to have practice. Once you become efficient at your system, you’ll be far better off when putting it to use in the field.
Why a Run N Gun Setup?
Before I start to get into why you might want to hunt with a mobile setup, I first off wanted to make the point that this kind of hunting isn’t for everybody. If you never utilize a hang and hunt system, you must take what you already know, the results you have had up to this point, and then take into account the following information before you make up your mind on whether or not you should hunt with a Run N Gun system.
Now, when we get into why a hang and hunt system can be so effective, the first is mobility. You are not only mobile but can have the ability to hunt anywhere at any time. This can particularly be of importance when you want to be more aggressive. You can dive into a spot, hunt it, and then pull everything out when the hunt is over, and the next time you hunt use the same tactic, but in a different area or perhaps move in based upon what you recently observed.
To me, and many other hardcore hunters who utilize the run n gun style of hunting, the biggest advantage is the element of surprise. I’d venture to guess a large majority of mature buck harvests come from the first one or two times in a particular stand/tree. In fact, there’s even science that backs this theory up. By locking yourself into a few “permanent” stands, you greatly reduce your chance at a mature buck. Not only that, but should you get busted by a buck in that tree, you might as well write it off for a good while. This is exactly why a run n gun setup is ideal. Get busted, just move to a different tree the next time out. A buck won’t usually vacate an area completely, but they will alter their behavior and movements within an area based upon pressure. You can bet they’ll have an eye on that tree they caught you in for the rest of the season.
When using a mobile setup, I also think you hunt smarter. When I say this, what I mean is that if you have those trees you hang a stand in every season, you may not be changing with the times. Often times deer movement will change each and every year, even if it’s just the slightest. Of course, some trails and what not will stay consistent, but not everything will. Crop rotations can have a large effect, acorns, etc. Deer are constantly shifting, and with a mobile setup, so can you.
Using a run and gun stand setup quite simply isn’t for everyone – it’s a lot of work! It can be an intimidating thing to think about hanging a stand every time you go in to hunt. But if your hunting situation allows, give it a try this year to see what you think, it may just tip the odds in your favor.