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A tree stand allows hunters to sit motionless out of the typical sight line of most prey in comfort and safety. From a tree stand, hunters can select the best target and take the shot from closer distances, resulting in cleaner and more humane kills. Now, it's about about analyzing the different types of treestands and choosing the best option...
The right type of treestand can make your next hunt not only enjoyable, but also very successful!
Today's three types of treestands are climbing stands, hang on stands, and ladder stands. All three serve the same purpose: allowing hunters to use elevation and tree cover to improve hunting opportunities. Each type of tree stand offers benefits and drawbacks that make one more appropriate in some circumstances than the other designs.
Climbing stands are a two-piece stand that is portable. The two pieces are connected around the base of a tree. The hunter then straps into the seat, moves the top section up, latches it in place, lifts the bottom piece, and locks it in. Repeating this process allows a hunter to climb to an advantageous height quickly and safely.
The climbing stand is popular with bowhunters because of the ability to quickly and easily remove the stand and relocate to another area. Climbing stands are also a mid-weight option that can be packed in and out of the hunting area.
The most significant downside of a climbing stand is the limited movement they provide to a hunter. Once the hunter has strapped into the stand, it is difficult to move from the position, which can be tiresome on slow days. There is also a risk of falling if the stand grips don’t grip the tree bark well.
Hangon stands offer better portability than climbing stands but are a little more challenging to attach to a tree securely. Hang on stands require a climbing stick or ladder steps to steadily position the stand at higher elevations. Many designs are extremely lightweight and are designed for long hike-in hunting locations and portability.
One of the most apparent advantages of a hang-on stand is the added range of motion available to a hunter sitting in the stand. They are more comfortable than climbing stands on long hunts but are more time-consuming and difficult to move to a different location.
The most significant disadvantage to a hang on stand is that they require climbing equipment to install. Any time you add extra gear, it translates to more weight and more things to go wrong. The added comfort of a hang-on stand over a climbing stand and the lower initial cost can be benefits.
Ladder stands are the safest and most comfortable option out there. Once a hunter has chosen a spot and installed the stand, it is accessed with a fixed ladder and provides a large, stable base. These stands are typically not designed to be portable and are often hung in a tree well before the hunt, sometimes spending the entire season in a tree.
Additionally, ladder stands are favored by people hunting on private land where they are not competing for access with the public. That is mainly because these stands are not easily installed and moved. A ladder stand works best when hunting along the edges of game trails or near bait spots.
A treestand ladder isn’t a good choice when a hunter plans to hike into a location or when a stand can’t be left in place. The ladder makes it easy for deer and other game to spot the ladder, but over time, they will become accustomed to it and will ignore it.
And on a final note - many top treestand brands have what's known as a double stand, which allows two hunters to sit side-by-side. This is a great choice for an parent that wants to introduce their child to deer hunting, and needs a good stand to do so.
Hunters using treestands should have a few things along for the hunt. A high-quality folding pruning saw is ideal for removing small branches from trees to raise a stand or clear shooting lanes. These saws don’t have to be large, and the folding design makes them ideal for tossing in a gear bag or hanging from a belt.
A set of pruning shears are also helpful for removing smaller branches blocking the view of the target area or making the area more comfortable. Look for designs with a secure lock to prevent the pruners from opening in your pocket or gear bag.
Hunters should carry a good pair of binoculars for hunting when using a tree stand. A reliable set of binoculars can help identify animals well in advance of the animal entering the shooting lane and offer something to do -such as watch birds- when the deer don’t show up.
Also, if you plan on hunting no matter the weather, I'd highly recommend a good treestand umbrella to bring along. Today's top options are rather compact and can be carried from location to location if you're utilizing a climbing stand. Additionally, if you already have a ladder stand in place it might be worth installing one before the season.
A length of sturdy rope rated to handle at least twice your weight and long enough so that you can get out of the stand if needed should also be on the hunter’s list of items for treestand hunting. A rope may make it easier to raise and lower gear, secure gear when in the stand, or get down should the type of treestand in use fail to operate correctly. A piece of rope can quickly get up and down from a treestand without having to lower the device to the ground.
Each of the three types of stands has advantages and disadvantages. Climbing stands are great for hunters with the upper and lower body strength to properly operate and are a great way of quickly getting into position. They are often favored by bowhunters and hunters who have a location that will offer a good shot, but since moving around in these stands is nearly impossible, hunters will not have the range of movement or the ability to stretch tired limbs as well.
Hang-on stands are secure and offer more room to move around, but also require quite a bit of effort to install. The risks largely surround hang-on stands that are not properly installed in trees. If the straps that hold the stand fail, the stand can fall, leading to serious injury.
Ladder stands are the most secure but are also the most cumbersome and difficult to move. A ladder stand is usually used on private property where the risk of the stand being stolen or used by someone else is low. Since this type of stand is more difficult to put up, hunters must plan ahead to get the treestand in place before the hunt.
The safest safety harness to use while hunting is a full body system harness, preferably approved by the Treestand Manufacturers’ Association (TMA). Additionally, if you're able to use a lineman's rope to connect to the tree, you're in good shape!
Hunters have used tree stands and blinds for centuries to get the drop on animals they are hunting. Today’s technology allows lightweight and portable tree stands that can be set up in minutes and offer comfort for an all-day hunt.
Choosing the right treestand for hunting will depend on the type of hunting you plan to do. Hunters that are looking for a portable design should look at climbing and hang-on stands, while hunters who are looking for a more permanent option should investigate some of the best ladder-type treestands.
Also, if you're interested in purchasing some new Sitka Gear before deer season, we have some great information for you!