Dusty McGehee: Deer season preparations

Into the Woods with Dusty McGehee

We have had a long, dry, and abnormally hot summer.  It’s been so hot, it’s made hunting season preparations almost impossible without the aid of a tractor with cab and air conditioning.  In just three short weeks, we will be able to sit in a hot, clear cut full of goatweed and empty our magazines at a dove.  Dove season is what we all look forward to.  Sure, those little birds are tasty but more importantly, it means hunting season has begun and deer season is just around the corner!

The anticipation is right up there with a kid waiting on Christmas morning.  As with Christmas, there is a lot of prep work to be completed before the big day.  Here are a few preseason tips that I’ve compiled from personal experience.

Safety, safety, safety.  Whether you are hanging new tree stands or checking box stands, safety needs to be the first thing on your mind.  If you are hanging a lock-on stand, make sure you have all the safety gear needed.  A climbing belt, safety lifeline, fall protection harness… utilize them!  There are way too many incidents each year, and we all have families that we need to return to.  If you are checking box stands, make sure to do a thorough inspection of your ladder and steps.  It appears the treated wood is not made like it used to be.  I personally witnessed a guest fall through the 4th rung of my ladder last year when it collapsed.  Luckily, he caught himself and only suffered bruised ribs.

Stinging insects:  It is inevitable, wasps will have used your deer stand while you’ve been gone to build nests and raise their young.  I would prefer a deer stand full of spitting cobras than a stand full of wasps.  I will bail off a 10-foot ladder without hesitation and my 40-yard dash time to get away must be close to world record speed.

There are two ways of dealing with these awful pests.  The first is prevention.  During turkey season, I will place a “Hot Shot No Pest Strip” in each of my enclosed stands.  The label claims it will keep any insect away for four months.  I can attest that it lasts much longer than that.  If an insect does make it inside the stand, it does not make it out, so worst-case, you will need to sweep dead insects off the floor.

The second is to fog the stand.  I prefer the small aerosol can with a locking trigger.  These are marketed for ants, fleas, roaches etc. but trust me, they will take care of the wasps.  Whether you have confirmed there are wasps or not, just go the safe route and set off a fogging can.  I like to sneak up the ladder quietly, crack the door open just enough to get the can inside, set it off and run like the wind.

Buzzard box stand infestation:  If you have a box stand and the windows are not closed after deer season, a buzzard will find it.  They will roost inside and potentially have baby buzzards inside of it.  They will ruin your chairs, flooring, and whatever you have inside.  Buzzards will utilize your stand as a home, nursery, and toilet.  The best advice I can give for this is to close or board up your windows in the off season.  If a buzzard does take residence, I’d suggest you gather some flammable liquid, strike a match, and burn it down!  You might think I’m kidding, but the stench and nastiness will never buff out of a buzzard stand.

I can’t wait for the start of deer season.  Although I’ve got a lot of tractor hours to be logged before then.  Food plots to be planted. Lanes to be trimmed.  It is a lot of work, but the sweat equity always seems to pay off.  It has been a long eight months of waiting, the freezer is low on venison, and it is time to restock.  With inflation rising and the cost of groceries at an all-time high, let’s all get out in God’s grocery store and provide for our families.

Good luck and be safe!


Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders, Ridge, and Mae. If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at dusty.mcgehee@westrock.com.