It seems to simple right? But in reality, I'm not so convinced it is as cut and dry as we all think. Have you ever thought of how you walk into your stand in the morning? Or even how you walk back to the truck after a great evening sit? Now, I mean the actual act of taking step after step into and out of your sacred hunting ground. You may have the best entry and exit route ever known to man. If there is the right wind, it could be bulletproof. Think though, just for a second, what the conditions are when you are physically walking into and out of your stand. It is usually under the cover of darkness. Knowing how to to do this successfully may lead to a greater amount of success in the future.
It all starts with your flashlight or headlamp. Many people carry the brightest flashlight they can find or buy when walking in the dark. They light up the woods, and in the process, let every animal in the woods know of their presence. Does this bright light allow you to walk into your stand without breaking sticks or stepping on loud leaves along the way? Sure, it does accomplish that. In the end, it does more harm than good in the long run. Using a flashlight that is just bright enough to show you the earth's floor is a much safer bet next time you enter the woods.
Your probably thinking well now it is going to take me twice as long to get to my stand right? First of all this doesn't have to be the case, and secondly it's not a bad idea to take it a bit slower next time into the stand. So what can you do to increase efficiency when walking in the dark?
Clear a path before hand, in the summer months walk your entry and exit routes in the middle of the day. Clear debris or any objects that may hinder you when the cover of darkness is present. When applicable, clearing a little walkway with a weed whipper can be dynamite. You won't need a flashlight, and will be able to sneak in quietly to your stand.
Practice, this may seem crazy, but I know of people that like to check their trail cams at night sometimes. If your cam is in a place you can get to at night, go swap SD cards at night and don't use a flashlight. If you notice something that makes the walk difficult, or loud that you didn't notice during the day, get rid of it now so there won't be a worry come season.
Fall will be here before you know it. I like to think that any little advantage you can put in your favor will help increase your odds at shooting a mature buck. Take a little time, and learn how to be an efficient, stealthy hunter under the cover of darkness, and it will only help you in the long run.