Hunting from a tree stand can make you a much more effective hunter. Tree stands do three main things to elevate (no pun intended) your hunting game. First, they reduce the amount of your scent that lingers at ground level. Second, it keeps you out of the deer’s normal line of sight. Lastly, a tree stand will give you a great view of the terrain around you. There are other benefits to hunting with a tree stand, but most of them are specific to each type. Tree stands come in three main types: climbing tree stands, ladder tree stands, and hang on ladder stands. Each has it’s own distinct advantages, and you’ll need to think about how you hunt and match it to the right type when you buy a tree stand.
The most basic ladder tree stands are a ladder with a platform at the top. The ladder is connected to a tree with braces and straps. These stands can come with a variety of features, like a rifle rest, seat, and room for two. Ladder tree stands are bigger, heavier, and more difficult to move and set up than climbing stands. However, backpackable models are available. If you hunt on private land where installing a ladder tree stand is okay, then using one instead of a climbing tree stand will give you better stability and safety.
Ladder stands work great if you have a less mobile hunting style that relies more on camouflage and cover scent. Also, long range shooters usually prefer ladder stands because of the extra stability.
One disadvantage of ladder tree stands is that deer or other game may see the ladder and know that there is a hunter in the tree. A ladder tree stand won’t allow you to change your position as easily as a climbing tree stand, so they aren’t as well-suited for bow hunting as climbing stands are. They also usually require two people to set up.
Climbing Tree Stands
Climbing tree stands are usually a two-piece hunting stand with a lower platform (sometimes called a “leg” or “foot”) and an upper platform with a seat and rifle rest. You can use them to climb a tree by moving one piece at a time. These are the most mobile type of tree stand, but do require the hunter to be in fairly good physical condition to climb the tree. If you are hunting on public land where it’s illegal to leave a tree stand attached to a tree, then a climbing tree stand may be your only option. Unless, of course, you don’t mind hauling a full-size ladder or hang-on tree stand into the field and setting it up every time you hunt.
Also, if your hunting style relies on changing your position frequently to hunt deer-hot areas or to take advantage of favorable winds, the climbing tree stand is right for you. Because they allow for more mobility, climbing tree stands allow you to get closer to your game. This makes them a favorite for bow hunting, where wind direction and distance from the target are so crucial.
Most climbing tree stands have a seat and rifle rest for comfort. They can be fairly comfortable, but they only hold one person, so they’re not suited for couples hunting or hunting with a child. They do allow for one-person set up.
Be sure to wear a hunter safety harness both when you’re climbing the tree with your stand and the entire time you’re in it.
The main disadvantage of climbing tree stands is that they don’t fit every tree. They have to have a tree with a trunk that’s not too wide, and that’s free of major limbs that could get in the way of sliding the stand up the trunk.
Hang-on tree stands are usually one piece, with a seat and rifle rest. They attach to trees using straps. The hunter has to attach “climbing sticks” to the tree in order to climb it and hang the stand. Climbing sticks are a bar with a foothold at each end. They mount vertically on the tree and give the hunter a place to climb. This requires a hunter safety harness and fairly good physical condition.
These stands usually don’t come with rifle rests, since they have to be small and compact so a hunter can climb a tree with it strapped to his back. They are also one of the least comfortable stands, and don’t have room for two hunters.
These tree stands, however, are the most versatile of the three types. They can be hung in almost any tree, so they are very popular with bow hunters. They are more versatile than a climbing tree stand, but they are a bit more difficult to hang. Hang-on tree stands allow you to set up in a tree with lots of branches and cover, which is often the best place to be. Hang-on tree stands can be hung by a single hunter.