The essential idea of a tree stand is that by placing the hunter above the normal field of view of a whitetail deer, as well as removing some of the scent trail, the hunter gains an advantage in his or her hunting endeavors. The tree stand comes in many varieties, many of which are contraptions built on a hunter’s property. In this article, we will be looking at tree stands where you have the option of moving the stand between locations. If you hunt on public land, this may be a requirement for you.
We will categorize the stands we will discuss into three groups. First, we will spend quite a bit of time discussing the author’s personal favorite type of tree stand, the climbing tree stand. Next, we will discuss hanging stands, which are similar to climbers, except you need a ladder or climbing sticks to access the stand. Finally, we will discuss ladder stands, by which in this article we mean the type of deer stands that are jointly supported by the tree and the ladder that goes to them.
- Climbing Tree Stands
Climbing tree stands are perhaps the most versatile of all types of tree stands. These types of tree stands are used by hunters who will perhaps move from tree to tree through the season or perhaps as often as throughout the day. Without pictures, describing the operation of a climber stand is a bit challenging. Climber stands come in two sections. There is a pedestal, which will be what you will stand upon. It has straps into which you place your feet as you climb the tree. It is attached, usually via a nylon strap or a bungee cord to the seat part of the stand. The upper part always has a rail that goes around the seated portion. This can serve as a gun rest when shooting, but during your ascent of the tree, you will have your back to it.
The ascent of the tree is done facing the tree. Cables of some type go around the tree on the foot pedestal and the seat portion of the stand. The method by which you climb is you put your rear end on the rail of the seat and lift the pedestal by your feet (which are strapped to it). Once you have lifted the pedestal, you stand up, and lift the seat portion of the stand perhaps 18″-24″. Then you put your rear end on the seat rail again and repeat the process. Typically, hunters climb between 12′ and 20′ into the tree. Once at the height you wish to be, there are usually safety straps on the stand to make it more secure in the tree. One of the challenges is adjusting the tension on the cables around the tree at the bottom. Of course the diameter of a tree trunk gets smaller the higher you climb. If you start with the cables too loose at the bottom, the seat and pedestal will be pitched forward at the height you ultimately reach. This will be both uncomfortable and unsafe. If you over tighten the cables, it will be hard to move the sections up the tree initially, and quite often the pedestal will be pitched forward at such an angle as to make it hard to stand in at the bottom.
So the last part of the above paragraph hints at one disadvantage of climber tree stands. They can be hard for some to operate. There is a minimal fitness level required to use one, and it takes some practice to be able to attach the stand and ascend the tree under field conditions. Another disadvantage is that they should not be used when it has been raining or when the tree is wet. Finally, climber stands cannot be used on all sizes of trees. The diameter of tree they can be used on varies by brand and model, but suffice it to say, that any climber will have a range of tree diameters it can be used for.
Features to consider are many. One pertinent aspect is the weight of the climber tree stand. More than likely, you will be packing the stand into your hunting location. Also, lighter stands are easier to climb with. All tree stands will be clearly marked or advertised with the weight of the stand. This is one of the first things many hunters look for. Additionally, make certain the climber stand is rated for your weight. This is also prominently marked on the stand. I would suggest always buying your stand from a manufacturer certified by the Treedstand Manufacturers Association (TMA).
Also, the quietness with which you can ascend the tree is important. Due to construction differences, climbers are more or less noisy as you assemble the units to the tree and actually ascend. Part of being quiet as you ascend comes with practice. Part of the equation however, is in the design of the stand. The best thing I can suggest here, is to read unbiased reviews of the stands on sites or from sources other than the manufacturer or retailer.
Make certain that you always use these stands with proper fall restraints or harness systems. Tree stand safety is paramount! Easel Stand
- Hanging Stands
Hanging stands, as I am using the term here, refer to stands that hang from the tree, but are not climber stands. They come in one unit almost without exception. Typically, they are placed in the tree after the hunter ascends the tree via a ladder or climbing sticks. Once the stand is firmly strapped to the tree, the hunter ascends and descends the tree via the ladder or climbing sticks.
Some of the same considerations apply to hanging stands as they do to climbers. The weight is a primary concern as often these will be packed into the woods as well. Also, again make sure it is rated for your weight. Some of these units offer more or less for hunter comfort. It is kind of a safe assumption that the roomier stands with better backrests and other comfort features come at the expense of a heavier weight.
- Ladder Stands
Ladder stands are stands that usually have the hunter platform attached to the ladder. To place the ladder stand in the tree, you simply lean it against the tree, and go through various procedures to safely attach it. The greatest disadvantage of these stands is that they are not very portable. To move from one location to another, or for that matter to get it to the first location, is quite a chore. These stands do come with some nice advantages. They do tend to be more stable, and are normally the only stands of the three we are discussing here that can accommodate two hunters. If you will be hunting public land, and it is allowable to keep your stand in the woods throughout the season, be forewarned, regardless of whatever security measures you take these stands disappear more often than not.