There are lots of different hunting environments where it is possible to hang a tree stand. You may be hunting in a wooded area where the trees are relatively straight with few limbs, or you may be hunting in a river bottom where the trees are thick with many low limbs. You may also hunt in brush country like Texas where the only thing that resembles a tree is a cactus.
There are 4 main types of stands:
- Ladder stand
- Climbing stand
- Hang on or lock on stand
- Tower stand
These stands comprise a ladder with a stand at the top of that ladder. The stand at the top is built into the ladder so that the ladder is always attached to the stand once it is assembled. The ladder usually comes in several 3 or 4 foot sections and the stand height is usually about 20 feet high. It is essentially a small platform at the top of some steps.
It is great for people who don’t want to climb up trees, avoiding limbs on the way, or feel insecure at height. The ladder stand can also incorporate a large seat or platform which can be padded for additional comfort. Some stands also accommodate a skirt or blind to help make you more inconspicuous. Some hunters put a ‘box’ at the top of the steps, providing a complete enclosure. So the clear advantages are:
- Easy to get in and out of
Because of their stability and safety, they are also suited to a two-person stand, so a parent can share it with a child or buddy.
There are disadvantages however. Comfort comes at the expense of weight. These models are heavy [average 45 pounds] and are really suited to a hunter who can transport them to the site with an ATV or a truck. They are not designed for hunters who travel a long distance to their hunting area, or like to carry their tree stand with them as they change locations during the day. It is possible to carry them in, but it may take several trips as the ladder sections are usually made of steel. So the disadvantages are:
- Setting up time and noise
Climbing Tree Stand
These tree stands comprise two pieces which are a chair and below it, a platform. They are designed to allow you to ‘climb’ the tree while you are standing on the tree stand. To use them you secure both the chair and the platform around the tree first. Then you raise the upper chair and put your weight on it, then raise your legs and then lock the lower platform against the tree with your weight, then repeat the process as you edge your way up the tree.
Because of the way you ‘inch’ your way up the tree, it is obviously only suitable for certain trees such as the ones that have no limbs below the height you wish to hunt. The trees also need to be relatively straight and not too thick so the securing strap can fit around the tree. It is also not suitable for people nervous of heights or the very unfit.
The advantages are:
- You are very mobile and can carry your tree stand with you wherever you are hunting
You can use it on any appropriate tree quickly
The disadvantages are:
- It is only suitable for certain types of trees
Hang on or Lock-on
This type of tree stand is one of the most popular because of its versatility. It comprises a seat and a footrest that are attached to the tree; however, they also require a method to climb the tree such as climbing steps or a climbing stick. The steps can be screw in types or strap types.
This type of stand is versatile because it is relatively light [10-20 pounds] and can be used in most trees. The weight variation is due to the size of the seat and footrests. The cheaper lighter models have a small unpadded seat and footrests, which can be very uncomfortable if you are spending many hours sitting in your stand. The larger padded seat models are much more comfortable for the extra weight that is added.
The advantages of this tree stand are:
- Weight: light-medium weight
- Can be used in most trees
It is also very quiet once it is hung.
Its only disadvantage is:
- It requires you to carry steps or a climbing stick[s] as well.
In parts of the country where trees are sparse or non-existent such as the Texas brush country or the prairie of the Midwest, a tower stand is required. It is not strictly a tree stand as it is not placed in trees – it is a platform with either three legs [tripod] or four legs. The platform may or may not have some sort of enclosure to protect the hunter from the weather and give some camouflage.
Because of their size, they are not portable and are usually left in one spot for some time. This also lets the animals get used to them.
The advantages are:
- Where trees don’t exist, they are the only way to gain the advantages of hunting from a height
- They can also protect the hunter from the elements
- Can be very comfortable due to their size
- They are also very safe and stable
- Can provide hunter concealment
The disadvantage is:
- They are not portable, so a lot of thought has to go into site selection
There is a lot of choice of tree stands for different environments, so it is important to choose the correct stand for the type of hunting environment you are in.