Selecting The Right Treestand For Your Hunting Style

portable tree stand
Modern lock-on stands are more portable than they were in the past, but will never quite match the portability of a climbing treestands.

The tree stands that most bowhunters buy fall into three categories depending on the goal of the hunter. Consider exactly how you want to hunt because that will dictate the treestand style you select.

Ultra Portable Tree Stands

There is no better way to keep bucks from knowing they’re being hunted (always the key factor in taking a trophy buck) than moving your tree stand location often – maybe even every day. To make this strategy work you need a treestand with the right features. If this is your priority, here are the tree stand features you will need.

Lightweight, small size

To be considered a super portable tree stand, a treestand should weigh less than 12 pounds and be roughly 24 X 28 inches in size. Primarily these are fixed-position aluminum tree stands, but there are also a few of steel construction that fall into this weight and size range.

Adaptable mounting system

When someone hunts new locations often, they will face ever changing conditions. They may not find a perfectly straight tree right where they need it. The best treestands for this hunting style have the flexibility to install in a wide variety of trees: angled, large and even ultra-small. This is why some hunters don’t favor climbing stands for this application unless your region is comprised almost entirely of straight limbless trees.

If a tree stand can't be positioned precisely and quickly exactly where it is needed it will soon become a source of frustration. In general, strap-on stands and multi-position stands (those that use remotely mounted cables, pins, brackets) tend to be less noisy than chain-on models and are easier to lock into a specific spot on the tree.

Multi-position tree stands (Chippewa Wedge Loc, Summit Tree Stands and Lone Wolf Tree Stands to name a few) fall into this category and are becoming increasingly popular with hunters. These mounting systems permit bowhunters to put the treestand up, cut shooting lanes and then take it down without removing the bracket, pin or hook that attaches the treestand to the tree. Having several of the tree brackets allows you to set up and effectively hunt multiple locations without having to buy more than one stand.

Semi-Portable Tree Stands

platform tree stand
Many hunters like to set up their treestands before the season, but there is something to be said for staying mobile and moving in on fresh sign once the rut starts.

There's no better strategy during the peak of the rut than climbing into a tree stand over a heavily used travel route between two bedding areas and staying put all day long. Many bowhunters like to set up these tree stands before the season and then simply alternate between them. This makes it easier to simply relax and enjoy when the season comes. Others will use these same treestand locations only for their morning hunts, grabbing a super portable tree stand for their afternoon setups. If that is you, look for a tree stand that combines comfort with a reasonable degree of mobility.

Big platforms and comfortable seats

Tree stand design is heading toward large platforms and thickly padded seats. Looking down at a big platform tree stand gives a greater sense of security than tiptoeing around on a platform tree stand that's barely bigger than your size 12’s. Platforms over 22 inches wide and 28 inches long are a good starting point but don’t stop there. There are some good ones out there that are even bigger. For the ultimate in comfort, look for bench-style seats with 2 inches of thick foam padding.

Secure mounting systems

If you plan to leave a treestand up from one hunting season to the next, you need to take a close look at the mounting system. Though tree stand makers tell me otherwise, I personally don’t trust a strap-on that’s left in the woods year-after-year. I feel that chains offer the best mounting system for this scenario. Even then, I recommend taking the stands down every other year to check them for safety issues and to lengthen the chain so the tree has room to grow.

Climbers

The most comfortable stands made are self climbing stand models. However, self climbing stands have two drawbacks: they are generally quite heavy and they can't be used in all types of trees. Some are also noisy when climbing. If you'll be hunting an area with plenty of straight trees with few limbs - and don't have far to carry the tree stand - self climbing stands are an excellent choice.

Semi-Permanent Tree Stands

ladder tree stand
Equipping your treestands with backpack straps will allow you to move them more quietly and easily if the need arises.

Some hunters don't want to move their treestands and will find a couple of good spots and hunt them year-after-year. These are the same hunters who often nail boards in trees to form permanent platforms. Some hunters who are afraid of heights and with the baby boomers gaining a little age, climbing isn’t as easy as it used to be. For all of these hunters, security and maximum convenience are the top priorities and ladder stands are the perfect choice.

Stand height

Most ladder stands will reach either 12 or 15 feet. For those hunters wishing to hunt higher, there are a few new models that reach to 20 feet. But be careful how high you go. Several treestand manufacturers when asked what they recommended as the maximum safe height for a ladder, most felt 18 feet was about as high as anyone dared go with only one support bar between the ladder portion and the tree. Some felt hunters could go a little over 20 feet as long as they used a second support to stiffen the ladder.

Portability

Moving ladder stands is not really an issue because none could be called truly portable. Most hunters will use a hunting ATV to get the treestand into place sometime during the off-season. However, there are a few stands around 25 to 30 pounds that could be moved by hand during the season if the need arose. If you are concerned about maintaining some level of flexibility, steer toward lightweight ladder stands or, better yet, nice comfortable semi-portable stands.

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