When I was a child, it wasn't uncommon to see a treestand in the woods that was nothing more than a few 2x4s and a pile of nails attached to a tree. In fact, I've used homemade treestands a time or two over the years. The problem with homemade treestands is that wood rots, nails rust and trees grow. The result is an accident waiting to happen.
If you hunt from a wooden treestand, you may want to change your habits. Almost every hunter I know knows someone who's had a treestand accident of some kind or another. These accidents often occur because hunters are hunting from a homemade stand or a manufactured stand that's past its prime.
Hang-on treestands, this one from Big Game, are quiet, easily hidden and comfortable.
There are several types of treestands available, so if you're in the market for a new treestand, do a little research before making your purchase. The type you choose should be based on the style of hunting you intend to do. Also remember that your life depends on your treestand performing flawlessly.
Hang-on stands, also refered to as fixed-position treestands, have been around for decades and continue to be a popular option among hard-core hunters. Many of today's top treestand companies manufacture hang-on stands that have comfortable seats, large platforms for your feet, and are as light as a feather. When secured to a tree, most hang-on stands are extremely quiet and, unlike some other stand styles, don't stick out like a sore thumb.
The Alumi-Tech Deluxe Baby Grand by API is a great example of the hang-on style treestand. It weighs only 21 pounds, has a 24-by-30-inch platform and a comfortable padded seat and backrest that makes hunting all day easier on the back end.
Many hunters who choose hang-on stands do so because they are portable. If you plan to hunt off the beaten path, a hang-on style stand is a great choice. When choosing a hang-on stand, realize you will also need a way to get into the tree. Climbing sticks are one of the best ways of reaching your hang-on treestand.
When secured properly to the tree, climbing sticks are extremely safe and make getting in and out of a tree quick, silent and easy. The Ultra Steel Stackin' Stik from API is a classic example of a great climbing stick. Similar to a ladder, Stackin' Stiks hug trees so that they disappear into the woods. Stackin' Stiks come in lengths up to 20 feet — perfect for hunters who enjoy being in the nosebleed section.
The Summit Swiftree is another great option. This portable climbing stick has enclosed steps that secure the foot when climbing so that your foot can't slip off the end of the stick. It is 22-feet long and comes in three sections made of non-flexing tubular steel.
If you don't use a climbing stick with your hang-on stand, the other option is screw-in steps. However, if you hunt on public land, screw-in steps are illegal to use in most states. If you hunt on private land, they are a viable option.
Getting 20 feet up in a tree is easy with a modern day climber.
The climbing treestand is probably one of the most popular treestand styles on the market today. In the past, though, hunters have had bad experiences with climbing-style stands, and some hunters have near-death-experience stories where they've slid down the trunk of a tree while using a climbing treestand. Thankfully, over the last couple decades, climbing stands have improved dramatically, and they are now safe to use, quiet and provide extreme mobility to the hunter using them.
Most hunters who use climbing stands swear by them because they offer plenty of options. You can hunt a runway today and a scrape line that is half a mile away tomorrow. With a climbing stand, climbing sticks and ladders are unnecessary. Simply strap the stand on your back and go.
Climbing treestands have become very popular with elk hunters hunting in the backcountry of the western U.S. Using a climbing stand, these hunters can simply put the stand on their back, hike into the mountains and climb a tree near a water hole or wallow. With a climbing stand, you can hunt anywhere you want as long as you can find a tree large enough to climb.
An example of a quality climbing stand with versatility is the API Alumni-Tech Star. The Star's versatile design features a padded shooting rail that adjusts for gun or bowhunting. When gun hunting, position the padded shooting rail in the up position. While bowhunting, the padded shooting rail and aluminum climbing seat bar easily swing out of the way for maximum mobility. Power-gripping chains adjust easily to fit trees 9 to 20 inches in diameter, and at 28 pounds, this stand is easy to transport and makes climbing in and out of trees a breeze.
Another great climbing stand is the Summit Viper SD. Summit has been building climbing stands for decades, and it's clear that they know how to build a strong, comfortable, quiet climber without the squeaks often associated with climbing stands. Summit's Viper SD uses "Dead Metal" sound deadening technology, in which critical sections of tubing are foam-filled for significant reductions in game-spooking sounds. The Viper SD also features a strong all-welded aluminum construction. The platform is 20-by-29 inches, and the stand weighs 20 pounds. Like the API Star, the stand comes with a padded seat, arm rest and seat bar.
Although many hardcore deer hunters have shunned ladder stands in the past, they're beginning to gain popularity among some hunters because they're easy to climb into. Plus, some ladder stands will accommodate two hunters, which is nice when filming your hunt or when hunting with children.
With a little attention to detail, you can make any ladder stand blend in with its surroundings.
The biggest complaint about ladder stands that I've heard from hunters is that, in the woods, ladder stands stick out like a pimple on a prom queen. In the last few years, however, several companies have designed ladder stands that hug the trunk of the tree closer and blend in better. Some companies also make ladder stand accessories or branch holders that help the ladder stand become part of the landscape in the woods.
With the help of a couple people a ladder stand goes up pretty quickly. Once it's been secured in place, it would take a hurricane to blow a ladder stand down. And since ladder stands are easy to get in and out of, they're perfect for young hunters who are just starting out.
In the past, many hunters who enjoyed being extremely high in a tree didn't like ladder stands because many of those stands only got you 15 feet off the ground. Now many stand companies, such as Big Game Treestands, offer ladder stands that get you up in the bleeder seats. One fine example is the Big Game Arch-Rival which gets you 19 feet off the ground. Weighing in at only 64 pounds this stand is light enough one hunter can haul it into the woods.
If you want to take your hunting buddy hunting with you, you may want to consider the API Ultra-Steel 2-Person Ladder Stand. This stand has a comfortable 37-by-14-inch deep seat that puts you 18 feet above the ground! Even though the stand is large enough for two hunters, it only weighs 86 pounds.
For concealing a ladder stand, check out the Ameristep Magnetic Stealth Strips. These 3D leaves cling to the stand to help break up the outline of the stand. I have seen limb holders on the market that hold tree branches that can be secured to a stand.
There are dozens of stands on the market these days, and choosing the right one can take some time. If you want to hunt with your kids, a 2-person ladder stand may be the best option. If you want to get off the beaten path, a climber may be the perfect fit for you. Regardless of what type you buy, most stands today are strong and long lasting — a far cry from the death traps made from old 2x4s and nails that we used to hunt from.