That old feeling of excitement, brushed with a hint of anxiety is here once again.

Opening Day of the regular deer season is right around the corner and already my heart is beating a bit faster. (Nov. 16, 2019 for Southern Zone in New York.)

Guns are sighted in, clothing all set; and sure, some last minute munchies, beverages and gear still needs to be packed in the truck.

But the big question is: which stand to choose in the first few days of the season?

For those of us with a number of stands, the choice of where to be on opening weekend of the gun season is not always an easy one.

We toss and turn and night, and our minds wander to the woods during the day.

Sure, as we get deeper into the season, stand choices seem to be pretty much cut and dried because we have by then experienced first hand local deer movement.

Some stands are hot and some ... not. That’s just always the way it is.

And on those years, one stand produces more deer sightings than another down the line due to a few basic factors.

This year, according to the long-range weather forecasts … at the time of this writing … here in Western New York we have a good chance to have snow on the ground this year, not a lot but a good tracking snow, especially high up on the hilltops and ridges.

And we are supposed to have bright, bluebird (though the little tweets are long gone south) sun-filled days on Opening weekend.

A tracking snow traditionally boosts the overall take to a significant degree because it allows us to not only see the deer better, but track them much easier after the shot.

Most older whitetail bucks will skew their behavior when the bright sunlight shines, and head for the darkest, thickest cover they can find once the shooting starts.

But there is a wild card this year. Bucks undergo one of their greatest lifestyle changes of the entire year this week, as the breeding season, what we call the rut is timed to peak.

As Mr. Whitetail has been running does and chasing other bucks, since Halloween…so it will be relatively common, if not almost expected to see bucks running with does on opening day this year.

Bucks are reticent to leave a hot doe for any reason when she is nearing estrus, giving us one of the best chances of the year for filling that buck tag.

So the best stand site for Opening Day this year is one that is near thick cover, but not so thick that visibility is restricted to bow range. Even if the weather forecasters are wrong, and our skies are overcast, there is no big weather front looming. And that’s good news for deer hunters.

Some years we have rain, other days, wind, snow storms, and generally miserable hunting conditions, but this year it should be about perfect, not too cold, but good hanging weather to keep that delectable venison chilled, making it just about the best table fare that runs on four hoofs.

Due to our seemingly ever-increasing temperatures, each October seems warmer than the one before. Bucks and all whitetails for that matter go nocturnal when the daytime temps are suited for beachwear instead of heavy insulated coats. This past October was the first that I can remember when we had no snow. And I’ve been doing this hunting thing for over half a century.

So what seems to make the most sense for those of us choosing to take a stand on opening day this year is to acknowledge that most bucks will not move by themselves, until dusk and dawn, unless kicked out of their sleeping quarters after the first flurry of shooting dies down.

But there should be a lot of hunters moving around next to the bedroom doors, on crunchy, frozen leaves. Chances are we could very well be the beneficiary of the evictor’s noise and scent, as the whitetails are pushed out to us.

Ideally a stand this year should be in between the thick bedding cover and the preferred food source, downwind of a travel area, forced by a structural pinch-point.

Maybe set up in a hedgerow where it ties into a woodlot, inside corner of a field, steep creek bank or other physical barrier that creates a funnel or narrows down.

And if the wind or thermals are wrong, of course by all means relocate to another stand where the wind is more favorable.

The old phrase of “play the wind” most always holds true.

Oak Duke writes a weekly column appearing on the Outdoors page.