In hunting, it is often the little things that make the difference between holding a trophy rack in your hands and taking home a big fat nothing burger. One of the most overlooked and most underperformed tasks of hunting in the Whitetail woods is properly marking trails to and from your stand locations.
Do you hunt public land or share land with others? Do you invite friends of family to hunt your private property? Every good Whitetail guide in the business knows that trail marking needs to be bulletproof in order to accommodate the various skill levels of all hunters; however, there are several options and considerations that need to be considered to get the most out your efforts.
Surveyor’s ribbon is hugely popular across the country and it works great as a stand-out marking in broad daylight, but if you are a hard-core hunter that likes to travel in stealth mode into and out of your areas in the dark, then you probably utilize red or green flashlights or headlamps. Surveyor’s tape is almost worthless with red and green lights, so if you can afford to make your trails more visible, then tiny reflector thumbtacks are the way to go. These small markers can be bought almost anywhere and they can be seen extremely well under all colors of lights.
If you are weary of advertising your trails with such a bold option, you can use a Sharpie marker to black out some of the reflecting surface or you can simply place them close to the ground to avoid being spotted from great distances. Another tip is to make sure you place the reflectors on both sides of a tree so you can see on the way in and out.
Another way to mark a good trail during the fall when most grasses are done growing for the season is to simply take a hand mower and mow a trail all the way to your stand. A mowed trail is easy to see in the dark or light. But, you can also mow trails that you would like deer to use as well. Most deer are used to motor-operated equipment and vehicles, so the chances are good that you will not be permanently altering any of their behavior or patterns.
I know an outfitter in Kansas who mows trails for deer and humans, and the deer simply cannot pass up the opportunity to use these freshly made paths. A savvy hunter can mow his way to success, and you can avoid having to baby sit people all the way to the stand or blind.