Gary B. from New York write to ask about deer vision. “I teach bowhunter education classes and this question has come up several times. Relative to how high to put a treestand, the question is when a deer is walking by, if he doesn’t look up, just how high is his panoramic vision? The students in the Bow Ed classes just want to know how high they have to be to remain out of the line of sight of a deer.”
Interesting question, Gary. There is no science on this at all. There is plenty of science on the horizontal view. Because of the placement of the eyes of a deer, they can literally see all around them, with just a small dead spot directly behind the deer. But we have no idea what they see above them when a deer is standing and looking straight ahead.
So my best answer to this question when raised in a bow class would be simply this: Movement is critical for deer vision. Camo is fine, but movement is the key factor.
So, relative to drawing a bow from a treestand when a deer approaches, do it at the best time when the deer may not see the movement as readily, and I would guess that drawing slowly would also help. And I know that when some shooters are overbowed, they throw that bow arm really high and bring it down as they draw. Drawing a bow in that manner is terrible relative to movement, and drawing straight back is much better.
As far as the height of your stand is concerned, my guess is that the higher you are the less readily you are seen by a deer. However, safety should be your first concern. When I was younger, I didn’t think anything about being up 20 feet. Today, at an older age, with less physical strength and agility, I’d never be higher than 15, but that’s just me. And I would never dream of being in a tree, or climbing up or down, without a harness.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.