I don’t recommend doing all-day sits every day you are deer hunting. It’s a recipe for burn-out. Also If you spend 7 am-7 pm in a treestand every day of deer season you may end up unemployed and divorced. Normally, as the season is ramping up I will do 1 or 2 all-day sits each week at a maximum. The rest of the week I hunt first thing in the morning and stay until about 11 am. I then head home and get back in the woods by 2:30-3:00 pm to hunt the evening. Knowing that deer are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk) you can use this to your advantage to tailor your time spent in the woods. When we get into late October/early November, and the rut is underway, I will sit all day whenever I can. During that time of year, bucks are active during the whole day and there is the real potential to nab a trophy buck at an odd time in the afternoon. So it pays to stay in the woods as much as possible during the rut.
There are many things we think about when planning a deer hunt. The mental side of the equation is usually one of the last factors considered, if at all. However, the importance of having a good mental hunting attitude cannot be overstated. Shooting a bow or rifle relies heavily on your mind. If you are tired, hungry, uncomfortable, distracted, or dejected you will be much less likely to make a good clean shot. Just like shooting free throws in basketball or putting in golf, good hunting requires a good mental game. When you are spending the whole day hunting from a treestand, you need to do some extra things to ensure that your mental game remains strong.
What To Bring
Much more than a short sit, an all-day sit requires some extra gear. Your focus needs to be on remaining comfortable, well-fed, and hydrated. Layering your clothing is a great idea. Mornings can be cold, but as the day warms up you could soon be too hot. On the flip side, if you are dressed too lightly and a cold front comes in you may quickly become too cold. This can put you at risk of health issues and make it impossible to stay focused. Rain gear and or extra layers can be great to bring. Focus on clothing that packs down small. Goretex water/windproof shells usually pack down very small and provide excellent waterproofing for an outer layer. Down sweaters and pants also pack down very small and can be great inner layers to go under a Goretex shell. Always have extra socks and extra gloves. If either your hands or feet get cold, it can be impossible to remain comfortable.
Food and drink are the next items you will want to take extra time to plan out. For an all-day sit, I typically eat breakfast before leaving and pack something for lunch. If it is going to be cold out you will be able to count on a sandwich staying “refrigerated”. I generally also bring several different snacks to eat throughout the day. Trail mix and cliff bars are a great boost of sugar/energy if your mind starts wandering. Also, something salty is great to bring as well. You want to keep your electrolytes up so your brain is functioning in peak form. Bring plenty of water. I usually pack a 32 oz Nalgene bottle. In addition to water, I always pack some sort of caffeinated beverage. Coffee or soda is great to have. It provides a mental boost and can keep your focus sharp.
You may also want to pack something to read. While its important to stay focused on the hunt, sometimes you need a mental break. Using your smartphone can be overly distracting leaving you vulnerable to missing an opportunity on a deer if one comes in while you are glued to your phone. However, reading a physical book generally still leaves you paying attention to your surroundings.
Sitting in the woods all day can be a great way to hunt, but it does present several challenges not present with a several hour hunt. 12 hours is a long time to sit in a tree or blind. Focus on taking care of your basic needs such as food, hydration, and temperature regulation to keep your mind sharp and improve your focus. Packing a few extra layers of clothing can keep you comfortable. Bringing a lunch, snacks, and beverages will keep you feeling good (and can help break up the day). Consider bringing some reading material for those moments when you need a short distraction.
When the rut hits, anything can happen. It is imperative to be in the woods as much as possible to increase your chances of bagging a mature buck. Taking care of your body and mind while in the woods for 12 hours can greatly improve your chances of success.