How To Walk To Your Stand In The Dark.

Bowhunting

It’s finally the morning of your first hunt. Your alarm went off three hours before daylight, giving you plenty of time to reach your stand before sunrise.

As you leave your vehicle and gather your equipment, you realize the woods look impossibly dark. That short hike to the treestand starts feeling like a walk through a haunted house. You recall every horror movie you’ve dared to watch, and wonder why every stump you pass looks like a bear.

Yes, a dark woods seems spooky, and it’s natural to feel that way. Once that sun nears the horizon, however, you’ll see those menacing figures were just rotting tree trunks and all those scattered bodies were just logs. The only beast was finding your way through the darkness to the right location. However, a little preparation and the right tools will help you find your way to and from hunting spots in inky darkness.

Planning a Route

When scouting and selecting hunting spots, plan your route in and out of the woods. Choose an easy route that avoids obstacles like rock slides, thick brush and deadfalls. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

Before taking your first steps in the dark, make nighttime navigation easier with some planning. When scouting and selecting hunting spots, plan your route in and out of the woods. Choose an easy route that avoids obstacles like rock slides, thick brush and deadfalls.

Then, mark your route with reflective tacks or flagging. These items reflect the light from your headlamp and guide you to your hunting spot. Make your walk even easier by clearing logs and branches from the path. They can snag your gear and even trip you.

Light the Way

Flashlights and headlamps are available in varying lumens or brightness. Lumens are a unit of measure for the quantity of light emitted. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. Photo Credit: Open Country Hunter via YouTube

Even with a well-prepared trail, you’ll need a light source to help you see. Headlamps are an excellent solution. These lights strap to your head, freeing you to use both hands for pushing aside branches and carrying your bow and other gear. Hands-free lighting also makes it safer to climb into treestands or field dress game after dark.

Standard flashlights are also good options. They shine a focused beam of bright light, which is especially helpful when blood-trailing game. Ideally, you’ll use a headlamp and stash a flashlight in your daypack as a backup to cover all your lighting needs.

Flashlights and headlamps are available in varying lumens or brightness. Lumens are a unit of measure for the quantity of light emitted. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. For example, a 600-lumen light is brighter than a 200-lumen light.

Another important consideration is how the lumens are used. Some lights project a narrow, focused light beam while others cast a wider beam. Wider beams are great for general navigation, and focused beams are ideal for scanning areas.

Some lights project a narrow, focused light beam while others cast a wider beam. Wider beams are great for general navigation, and focused beams are ideal for scanning areas. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

When choosing your light at an archery shop, test its brightness and features. Question the staff about what light they use for bowhunting. It’s an important decision because you’ll use your headlamp or flashlight often, and carry it with you everywhere.

Just don’t forget to bring it with you when heading into the woods. The worst feeling is waking up early, driving to your hunting site, and realizing your flashlight is still at home. Or worse, you entered the woods in daylight, sat until dark and then realized you didn’t bring it along. It’s a good precaution to buy two or three flashlights and headlamps. Choose a high-quality product as your primary headlamp, and store less expensive models and extra batteries in your car and hunting pack.

These great tools turn a spooky walk in darkness into an easy walk in any woods.


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