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There are a number of factors to consider when buying a tree stand for hunting.
One issue is your weapon choice; this should be factored in when choosing the tree stand that suits your needs.
Also, you should consider convenience and user safety. Likewise, you need to consider if the deer stand is easy to set up onto trunks, as well as whether it supports camouflaging or if it has an enclosure to cover the hunter and the stand platforms when hunting.
These and other key considerations are what we will look into in this short buyer’s guide. Alternatively, for our recent review and choice of top 5 tree stands for 2020, head here.
How long have you been hunting from a deer stand? If you are a novice, then standing on a tree stand secured 18 feet high above the ground can be frightening, especially if the stand platform is small.
Moreover, safety is a key consideration for novice hunters who are frightened by heights because they can easily fall from deer stands that lack a front rail. For a novice hunter, a ladder stand that features a guard rail is appropriate.
If you are an experienced hunter, then you can use a climbing stand, hanging stand, or tripod stand.
Related to hunting experience is the need for a hunting mentor. If you are to hunt with your mentor, then you need a deer stand that can support your weights, as well as accommodate both of you. For this, you need a two-person deer stand, which is usually a ladder-style stand.
Relatedly, if you have a large build and you are hunting alone, then you need to look for a deer stand that features sturdy steel construction and whose clamping mechanism allows the stand platform to hold your weight. Moreover, your stand and seat platforms must be large to accommodate your size.
As expected, you should match the sizes of the stand and seat platforms (of your deer stand models) to your body size and weight.
Additionally, manufacturers of deer stand provide weight recommendations for their models; and as expected lightweight aluminum models support less weight as compared to the heavier steel models. Always ensure that the weight limit of your model exceeds your body weight.
You should also consider the weight of your hunting gear and other accessories that you will carry up to the stand.
As mentioned above, you should match the sizes of the stand and seat platforms to your body size and weight.
Even so, there is a need for cognizance that bigger platforms are not always better than small platforms, as big platforms are bulkier and harder to transport as compared to small platforms. This means that platform size determines how portable the deer stand is.
Additionally, the type of stand affects the platform size. For instance, hanging stands are limited in terms of their maximum stand platform size as they need to be carried up the tree by the user.
Also, you may find it difficult to secure a bulky hanging stand as compared to clamping a smaller model. Therefore, you should match the platform size to your size, as well as consider its portability.
The deer stand will be lugged to and from trees during each hunting trip.
Therefore, the size and weight of the model should be considered, especially if you are going to carry the stand on your back when climbing the tree, and then attaching it to the trunk.
Portable stands have collapsible platforms, but they sacrifice on comfort.
Terrain and Vegetation
You need to consider the hunting field before acquiring a deer stand because of terrain topography, types of trees, and foliage density influence the choice of tree stand and hunting weapon.
If you intend to hunt in the woods or pine forests where there are lots of tall straight trees, then any deer stand (with the exception of the box and tripod stands) can work.
However, if your hunting field is an undulating field of shrubs and scattered patches of trees with bent trunks, then a box stand is suitable. In the bushy field or savanna, a tripod stand is appropriate.
Types of Trees
It is clear that the tree stand fits well on a section of tree trunk that does not have branches (also described as limbless trunk section).
According to tree anatomy, the site where the main branch called the bough grows from the tree trunk is called the branch attachment. Therefore, one can raise the deer stand to the highest level of a tree just before encountering the lowest bough.
In some trees, branch attachment starts very low, about 4 meters or less, and you may need to cut off these low hanging branch attachments till you reach the desired height where you plan to place your deer stand.
However, if this is impossible, then you need to look for a tall tree whose branch attachments allow you to perch the deer stand high enough to support your hunting. In these trees, you can use the hanging, ladder, or climbing stand.
The girth of the tree trunk should be considered as the clamping mechanism of the deer stand must be able to go around the trunk when securing the stand to the tree.
As expected, very wide girth is incompatible with climbing stands as the hunter will have difficulty clamping and de-clamping the stand and seat platforms when raising the deer stand up the tree.
Usually, climbing stands are suitable for straight medium-girth trees with rough-textured barks. On the other hand, if the tree (like aspen) has a smooth-textured bark, then a ladder stand can work.
As expected, tree trunks that start to bend at very low heights are unsuitable as poles for tree stands; and in this case, placing the box stand behind the tree (so as to use the tree foliage as cover) is prudent.
You should also consider tree color and match it with the color of your deer stand so that you do are not conspicuous against the tree-and-foliage background.
For example, a dark-colored deer stand will stand out when fitted on a silver-barked maple tree, and the deer – which naturally has a keen perception of contrast – can easily make out the hunter and run away after alerting other deer in the field. You can mitigate this by attaching tree branches and twigs to your stand so as to break the stand outline and camouflage yourself.
The choice of hunting weapons affects the platform size. For instance, bow hunting requires a larger stand platform that allows you to draw your bow while maintaining a stable standing stance. As expected, this determines the type of deer stand that you need.
Most tree stands in the market feature bare basics. You can acquire any of them and then add accessories to camouflage your tree stand, as well as make it more comfortable. On the other hand, high-quality tree stands come equipped with hunting accessories.
Tree stand accessories include:
Padded seats, padded armrests, and padded backrest.
Hanger or shelf: This is a provision for hanging your gear and items so that they do not fall. Other models come with hang-it-all belts.
Camouflage cover and tape for breaking silhouette of hunter and tree stand.
Blind kits provide camouflage and allow the hunter to make movements on the stand platform without being seen by the game.
Deer stand umbrella provides shade during sunny days, as well as allows for hunting when it is raining or drizzling. It can be attached to the tree or the stand itself.
A camouflage cable lock is used to secure your stand to the tree so that it cannot be stolen.
Haul line or rope for pulling hunting gear from the ground.
Bow holders and shooting rests.
As discussed earlier, safety is a key priority when using a tree stand. The first line of defense against accidental falls is secure clamping of the stand to the tree trunk, while the second line of defense is use of the fall protection PPE. As expected, the hunter must wear the safety harness properly.
Most high-quality tree stands come with a 3- or 4-point safety harness called a fall arrest system (FAS). In some models, the harness is made of 2 belts and strap.
This is called the belt harness and you are required to wrap one belt around your waist, while the other belt is wrapped around the trunk with the strap connecting the 2 belts.
In other models, a full-body harness is provided, and this features shoulder and leg straps, along with the waist strap, and it is attached to the tree in a similar manner to a belt harness.
The user is expected to consult the user manual on how to use the FAS, as well as how to set up the tree stand correctly.
Following the user manual is most critical if the hunter is using a climbing stand.
The tree stand must also allow the hunter to pull unloaded hunting weapons up to the stand. This is because of climbing with a loaded weapon, for example, a rifle poses a grave risk of an accidental shooting that can injure the hunter besides alerting the game.
To do this safely, you should bind your unloaded weapons with a rope and then climb with the rope to the stand platform, and thereafter pull your hunting gear and then load the weapons. As expected, your tree stand should allow you to do this without you risking a fall.
As expected, when hunting you should stay alert and not snooze nor fall asleep as you risk injuring yourself.
Old hunters may find it difficult to use climbing sticks to reach the stand platform, and in this case, a ladder stand that features side and guard rails is suitable as you can hold onto them when climbing to the stand, or descending from it.
You should also look for a model that is easy to maintain. You must also regularly inspect the stand for defects, and wear and tear.
Now, that you know how to choose the right tree stand for your next hunting trip, you should be able to narrow down your choices to a few models, and then consider the price of each model. You should then purchase the model that fits your budget and expectations.
The aforementioned considerations can also be used to rate and grade tree stands. This allows for the best tree stands to be identified in each of the four stand types. Five of the top-rated deer stand models have been selected for this review.