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How To Buy A Treestand

Several factors will determine the best treestand for your type and style of hunting. Many different styles are offered to afford you comfort, ease-of-use, packing and transporting manageability, and a solid perch to observe your game and squeeze off the perfect shot at your target.

  • Types
    • Portable or fixed-position stands
    • Climbing stands
    • Ladder stands
    • Tree slings
    • Tripod stands
  • Other considerations
    • Platform
    • Weight
    • Size
    • Mounting systems
    • Materials

Types

There are several options to consider, each offering varying benefits depending on your hunting style, need for convenience, hunting environment and security.

Portable or fixed-position stands

  • These are the most popular, using a platform and seat joined by metal poles
  • Chain or nylon webbing is attached to the top of the tree trunk, with the bottom supported by T-screws or built-in spikes
  • You'll need tree steps or ladders to climb the tree when using a portable stand
  • These are extremely versatile, especially since you can use them safely in nearly any type, size or height of tree
  • If you bowhunt, consider a smaller fixed-position stand since this gives you a smaller outline against the tree's backdrop
  • Also, you may want a large support arm around the stand's outer edge. Running about chest high, this arm provides added safety and a gun rest.

Climbing stands

  • Climbing stands are designed for fast, quiet climbing without using tree steps or ladders
  • These are best if you hunt in areas with tall, straight trees, such as oak and birch
  • These generally come in two sections--a top part that you use to raise and secure with your arms and a bottom section that you secure with your feet
  • Climbing stands can be heavier and bulkier than fixed-position stands but manufacturers are making strides in this area
  • A big plus with climbing stands is the ability to move about when scouting and quickly set up in a few minutes, but you can't use climbing stands in trees with lots of large limbs or bent trunks

Ladder stands

  • Aluminum ladders can be secured to a tree and you sit on a small seat with a footrest built into the ladder
  • These are easy to climb and are great for private land since you can leave them set up throughout the season and aren't as concerned about bulk and weight
  • Ladder stands are generally very safe and very quiet
  • However, most ladders only get you 12 to 14 feet off the ground--some as little as 10 feet--so if you need higher perches, this may not be the best stand
  • You'll also have a larger silhouette against the trunk

Tree slings

  • These are used in conjunction with tree steps
  • Tree slings allow you to sit in a sling, with ropes or nylon straps, or both, securing your perch
  • The big advantage is tree hugging, reducing your outline, and mobility to quietly position yourself around the trunk to change your shot angle. They are not as comfortable as other treestands, however.
  • Bowhunters like tree slings because of this maneuverability and concealment
  • You should also consider some screw-in tree steps to use as a footrest once you set your tree sling

Tripod stands

  • These are good in sparsely wooded areas, such as the Southwest, where tall trees for more conventional stands are not readily available
  • These use three legs with a rotating seat or shooting house on top
  • Because they are bigger than other types of stands, these can really stand out so care must be taken in setting up tripod stands either inside or adjacent to a small tree
  • These work best when overlooking large fields or open-area watering holes

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Other considerations

Platform

  • The platform is the part of the treestand where you stand and rest your hunting equipment
  • The larger the platform, the more comfortable you'll be, allowing you to move about more freely
  • If you are afraid of heights, then definitely consider as large a platform as possible
  • However, the size of the platform affects the weight of your stand. Weigh the benefits of size vs. heft in determining what makes you most comfortable and safe while still not overtaxing your muscle power.

Weight

  • Weight may make a difference depending on how far you have to carry your stand in the woods and how high up you have to haul it in your chosen tree
  • Many stands are designed to be carried like a backpack, making this a much more manageable chore
  • New materials such as carbon are making these lighter but more expensive
  • Heavier stands typically incorporate nice features, such as solid mounting systems, larger platforms and gun rests
  • Your usage should determine weight. If you need to move the stand often, lighter weight will help. But if you plan on staying put for the most part, then weight is less of a consideration.

Size

  • Size is also a comfort vs. weight issue. Once again, the bigger the platform, the safer and more comfortable your stand but generally the heavier.
  • Consider the seat size as well. The style, padding and height make a big difference.
  • For example, most kitchen chairs are 17 inches from the seat to the floor so you take the weight off of your legs. A higher seat, though, offers a big advantage in being able to stand quickly.
  • A seat height of 20 to 22 inches is a good range, but if you're tall, you can even find them up to 25 inches high
  • Some seats are adjustable to get them away from the tree
  • You can find seats as well with thicker padding and padded back and gun rests, good options if you plan to be in your stand for hours
  • Gun rests or shooting houses are nice as well for both convenience and comfort, not to mention an extra piece of security to keep you from stepping out of your stand

Mounting system

  • The mounting and flexibility of a system are key considerations in determining which treestand style to purchase
  • Look for a stand that mounts on the type of trees where you normally hunt
  • If you hunt in several areas and frequently go to new areas, buy the stand that offers the most flexible mounting system. And, if necessary, look for treestands that can be leveled even on crooked trees.
  • There are generally three types of mounting systems:
    • Chain-on systems
      • Chain-on systems work well when you plan to place and leave your stand
    • Strap-on stands
      • Strap-on stands are quieter to install but need to be checked each season to make sure the straps are in good condition
    • Multi-position systems
      • Multi-position systems are gaining in popularity because they give hunters more flexibility and cover most, if not all, of your treestand needs
      • When you're finished hunting for the day, you take the stand with you but leave your mounting system attached to the tree
      • These multi-position systems are offered in several types of fasteners: screw-in pins, H-frame brackets, offset cable harnesses and cable-mounted plates

Materials

  • Aluminum and steel are most common, with aluminum providing lighter weight while steel gives you more rigidity to enhance security
  • The new carbon materials have the advantage in the weight category, with some portable stands that can be carried like a backpack weighing as little as 5 pounds

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