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There are literally 100's of different deer stand styles on the market today from many different manufactures with many different price points. So how does the average hunter decide which stand to buy? The answer to that question depends on many factors and as you may already know, or are soon discover, you may often need more then one type of stand depending on the areas you plan to hunt.
With the hunting season around the corner, it’s time to gear up to ensure you have the best hunting season. While you get the best arrows and bows, one thing you must invest in is a tree stand. While primarily used for hunting whitetail deer, it is a quintessential component of hunting gear. Here’s all you must know about the different types of tree stands and the ones we think are the best.
Comparison of our Favorite Stands
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Benefits of Hunting From a Tree Stand
Tree stands have become quite essential for hunting in recent years since they provide a plethora of benefits. These include:
Higher Ground and Better Line of Sight
Sitting in a tree stand provides a higher vantage point, which not only allows you to see farther in the woods but also gives you more time to set up your shot. Plus, it places you above the deer’s eye level, which gives you an advantage. Generally, deer don’t expect danger from above their head; instead, they expect it to be on the ground level.
Since deer don’t expect you to be above them, you can move around freely in the stand than on the ground. This makes it easier to go into the shooting position and also keeps you comfortable, which in turn helps you in staying still.
A tree stand keeps your scent above the ground level, particularly in flat, level areas. Since the deer will be unable to catch your scent, you have a better chance of making the right aim.
How to Choose a Tree Stand
Since you’re going to be spending quite a lot of time in a tree stand, you must ensure that you have the perfect one. To do so, make sure you first think about the following factors before finalizing a purchase.
Choose Safety Over Comfort
When it comes to picking out a tree stand, many would give preference to comfort over safety. This is justified given the amount of time you’ll be spending in the stand.
However, safety has to come first; you wouldn’t want the stand to break and result in you falling out. One way to ensure safety is to opt for tree stands with chains instead of cables.
Seating Options Should Be Comfortable
Your tree stand should be such that it allows you to sit comfortably for five hours at least without you having to stand. One option we recommend is a sling and web style seat that doesn’t put any pressure on the tailbone. The longer you can stay motionless on the stand without moving due to discomfort, the fewer chances there are of spooking the deer.
Choose One That Doesn’t Make A Lot of Noise
A tree stand is not good enough to be added to your hunting equipment if it pangs, pings, or squeaks. The more sounds it makes, the more deer you will spook.
Ladder Stands For Deer Hunting
A ladder stand is a popular choice for hunters that are planning to hunt in the same spot for a extended period of time.
Ladder tree stands typically include the ladder, platform and seat in one integrated package. Ladder stands are typically between 12 to 20 feet in height. Ladder stands are easier to climb into then hang on or climbing stands and once in place allow the hunter to climb up and down quietly.
Ladder stands are made in models that seat one or two hunters and are a popular choice for hunters that are teaching young hunters the sport as it allows both new and experienced hunter to sit by each other for the hunt.
Ladder tree stands usually do not require the hunter to damage the tree as they typically attach to the tree with a few ratchet straps. One thing I don't like about ladder stands is the fact that it is hard to set up in trees that are not really straight or have large branches on the bottom. Ladder stands are ideal for trees that have a long straight trunk so that nothing is in the way of the ladder.
Pros and Cons of Ladder Stands
As the name suggests, these are stands attached to the end of the ladder. Once you secure the ladder to the tree with safety restraints, you can climb up the ladder to get to the platform. These are ideal to use in situations where you plan on erecting the stand well before your hunt and leave it there for some time.
- Easy entry: Compared to most other stands, it is easier to climb up and down the ladder stand.
- Provide comfort: While ladder stands slightly restrict mobility, they can be known as the true kings of comfort.
- Versatile: They can be easily used in some situations where other tree stand types are not suitable, like smaller trees.
- Easy to use: Given how spacious and comfortable it is, tree stands are a good option for young hunters.
- Not portable: Since these are bulky, big, and heavy, they are the least portable.
- Easy to spot: Deer can easily spot a ladder stand which can make them skittish.
Our Favorite Ladder Stand:
Rivers Edge One Man Ladder Stand
Rivers Edge has been the experts when it comes to ladder stands. Their one-man leather stand serves quite a distinct purpose when it’s used in the field. Both gun hunters and bow hunters of different sizes and heights can benefit from this ladder stand.
With this product, hunters no longer need to trade in security for height. It measures 21 inches to the shooting rail and comes with dual stability blades. Other features it comes with include bark-biting stability bar and large ratcheting stability straps. Plus, the stand offers exceptional height that allows better viewing while also remaining highly stable.
The Rivers Edge one-man ladder stand is one of the most solid ladder stands you can get your hands on. It comes with a wide platform and seat, and it’s pretty clear that a lot of thought was put into designing this, making it an excellent purchase.
Climbing Stands For Deer Hunting
The climbing stand is the one of the most portable deer stands on the market. These stands weigh in between 12 to 30 lbs, depending on the type of material the stand is built out of, and can easily be carried in and out of the woods with backpack straps. Climbers allow a hunter to move to new locations, adjust height and the direction the stand faces quickly and easily.
The down side to climbing stands is the tree needs to be reasonably straight free of branches up to the height you want to climb and big enough to support the stand (but not to big so you can't get the stand around the trunk).
Climbing stands are ideal for the hunter that hunts land that requires you to remove the stand when not in use or to try new hunting areas. If I could only purchase one type of stand a climber would be it.
The ability to adjust on the fly outweighs the fact that I have to "climb" up and down every time I need to get out of the tree. When choosing a climber consider the hush factor mentioned above.
Pros and Cons of Climbing Stands
Climbers are becoming increasingly popular as manufacturers work on improving the design. While there are different styles available, the way they work is similar. Climbers usually have two platforms. You can simply carry them, choose the tree, and climb up quietly and quickly.
- No gear needed: To use these stands, there is no need for extra gear like rapid rails or steps
- Portable: They aren’t too bulky, making them lightweight and thus easy to carry
- Ensure comfort: Climbers are known to be one of the most comfortable tree stands available
- Easy setup: Apart from the ease of setup, climbers also give you the advantage of being able to make last-minute changes in your setup location
- Limited use: These can only be used in straight trees that have a few limbs
- Can’t leave the stand out: You will have to set it up again and again unlike ladders, and fixed position stands that you can leave out
Our Favorite Climbing Tree Stand:
Summit Treestands Viper SD Climbing Treestand
Engineered with smart sound dampening technology, the Summit Tree Stand is the best self-climbing stand available. It is built such that it reduces metal-to-metal contact noise which is produced by aluminum tubings. Instead, there is the dead metal sound deadening technology which dampens the sound by having the critical parts filed up with specially-made expanding foam.
It also comes with a proprietary QuickDraw cable retention system which is not only super quiet but is super fast too. It allows you to position the cable into the bracket and adjust it such that it fits the tree’s diameter. Moreover, the RapidClimb Stirrups can also be adjusted to fit any boot. These are engineered, keeping comfort in mind so that you can climb to the desired height easily.
This is the best self-climbing stand which comes with a plethora of smart features such as the QuickDraw cable retention system and RapidClimb Stirrups. All in all, it promises maximum comfort and hardly makes any noise so that you can easily hunt your game.
The Tripod Stand for Deer Hunting
The Tripod Stand really isn't a tree stand at all. The tripod stand has 3 legs, a ladder, a seat and platform and this stand can be set up on relatively flat terrain with out trees.
Tripod stands are used in fields and areas where a deer hunter needs a good view of the surroundings but the habitat doesn't have trees large enough to support a traditional tree stand.
Tripod Stands are typically the heaviest stands on the market and are less then ideal for set up and tear down on a daily basis but for some hunting situations these stands are ideal.
When setting up a tripod stand try and set up so that you have some sort of structure behind you that breaks up your silhouette such as small trees, hills etc.
Pros and Cons of Tripod (Tower) Stands
These are freestanding platforms that are supported by at least three legs or more. These are the best options for those areas where the number of trees that can support a stand is less. These come in various configurations and can be the best option available depending on the terrain you will be hunting in.
- Ideal for various purposes: It is best to use in open country or the edge of a field. ‘
- No trees needed: Since tower stands are supported by legs, they aren’t dependent on trees to be set up.
- Slightly demanding: The stand requires a level, firm and strong base that must be secured to the ground
- Not portable: They can be heavy and bulky depending on the material they are made from
Hang-on Tree Stands For Deer Hunting
Hang-on stands are a bit more difficult to set up but allow a hunter to set up in trees with a lot of branches or odd shapes. Hang-on stands require hunters to use some sort of ladder, climbing sticks or screw in steps to access the stand.
I like this type of stand when there are mature trees around with lots of big branches. The hang on stand allows me to scale the tree and settle in to a large tree that breaks up my silhouette. Hang-on stands are typically the lowest priced stand and weigh from 12 -24 pounds.
These stands don't typically have any type of rail around them so they are not for the hunter that is not comfortable with heights as you really feel like you are "hanging out" on a small seat and platform.
Pros and Cons of Hang-on Tree Stands
Hang-on stands can be best understood as the middle ground between climbers and ladders. The basic concept of this kind of stand is a seat and a platform that is attached to a tree. Fixed position stands are better suited for semi-permanent locations where you hang them in advance and leave them there.
- Portable: Since these are lighter, they are much easier to transport
- Easier to install: Compared to ladders, these are easier to install and can be set up at any height.
- Versatile: They can be used even on trees with cover.
- Not too secure: Since the platform of such treestands isn’t too large, this lacks comfort and security.
- Noisy: While installing is easy, it does require more effort and makes more sound
Our Favorite Hang-on Stand:
Lone Wolf ALPHA Hang On II Tree Stand
Weighing only 14 pounds, the Lone Wolf hang-on stand is super lightweight, yet it can handle a weight of up to 350 pounds. The stand ensures absolutely quiet operation, allowing you to descent and ascent without making the target aware of your presence. Not only is it extremely easy to use, but it is also fitted with a convenient self-leveling platform and seat so you can adjust the height easily while waiting for your game.
You can pair this model up easily with an E-Z hang hook accessory for maximizing your hunting experience since it can allow you to preset various stand locations to enable quick and easy hanging. In addition, this large single-piece cast aluminum platform doesn’t have any weak segments or joints. Thus, you can be sure of its rigidity and safety.
Its distinctive camo design goes quite well with the tree stand, making sure you stay undetected by your prey. Meanwhile, the bow holder can handle most parallel limb bows to keep your weapon in easy reach.
This is the best hang-on stand you can purchase given its durability and sturdy built. Plus, its camo design and silent operation make sure that your prey isn’t able to spot you. While you have to be careful while setting up, it is easy to use and absolutely worth the money.
Sling Type or Non-Traditional Tree Stands
I have seen a few of these tree stands at hunting shows but have yet to try one. The basic premise behind the tree sling stand is a fully body harness that hangs you from the tree.
This approach is the ultimate in portability, but I would think that this type of stand would be hard to pull a bow back in. The photo on the left is from a company called " TreeSuit"--"Looks can be deceiving.
This is the single treestand that replaces all of your hang-on's and climbers as well as the work that comes with carrying and hanging them. We guarantee the new Treesuit to be more comfortable, easier to use and better to shoot from than your conventional tree stand or your money back". If you have used this type of stand or know of some other similar stands please use the comment section below to tell me about it.
Homemade Tree Stands
Growing up in the north woods as a young boy on a tight budget I built many homemade tree stands. My stands typically involved 3 trees growing closely together and a sort of reverse tripod stand fashioned from scrap lumber.
Other extreme versions of homemade tree stands include elevated fully enclosed shacks, some even include heat sources. These types of stands are usually seen on private land where deer patterns are well established or over food plots etc.
Given the different types of treestands available in the market, it can be slightly tricky to pick the most suitable one. However, you now know the pros and cons of each type as well as the best stands in the category so you can easily make an informed choice!