Deer Hunting | Tree Stand Sets for Each Situation
Depending on where you hunt and the habitat present, the right tree stand for the situation might be drastically different. You need to consider the tree species and age, as younger coniferous trees or mature hardwoods will both change the type of tree stand sets that you should use. But you also need to consider whether the land is public vs. private, the overall hunting pressure, and ultimately who will use it. On top of all that, things are even more escalated during the rut. Given the limited time frame of this magical time period, you want to be in the right spot without getting busted. Here are a few tree stand hunting tips to help you decide how to choose a tree stand.
Contributing Factors for Tree Stand Selection
As mentioned above, the best tree stand setups for a given area will vary widely depending on several factors. Here are a couple examples of things that might influence the type of tree stand you choose for a given hunt.
- Tree Species – putting a tree stand in a hardwood or a coniferous tree will often change the type of tree stand you use. Some coniferous trees (e.g., spruce, balsam, etc.) are covered in branches and don’t lend themselves to climbing tree stands, but can provide a lot of cover for ladder stands. Likewise, some hardwoods tend to grow with a spreading branch structure (good for hang on stands), while others grow tall and straight (good for climbers).
- Tree Age – without mature trees, it’s hard to use a tree stand. For most tree stand sets, you will need trees at least 10 to 12 inches diameter at breast height as a minimum. If the trees are too young, they will sway too much in the wind and may be unsafe to support you. Larger and more mature trees (e.g., cottonwoods, oaks, etc.) are great for covering your silhouette (especially when hunting the early season), but only work well for hang on stands and possibly ladder stands.
- Land Ownership – depending on whether the land you’re hunting is public or private, you will need to use a different tree stand. Some public hunting areas only allow temporary tree stands to be used on the day you’re hunting, so you could be limited to climbers and hang on stands. But if you’re hunting private land, you could choose whatever stand you like or even install a tower stand.
- Hunting Pressure – another often forgotten factor is the hunting pressure in your neighborhood. Whitetails that are heavily hunted can develop the sense to look up and spot hunters in a tree stand, or they may even avoid tree stand locations. This may force you to use more mobile tree stands to keep them guessing, and you will need to hide them well. On the other hand, deer that are seldom hunted may not be as sensitive to that.
- Who Will Hunt – the last one is who will ultimately hunt in the stand. If you plan on solo hunts, you have many options. But if you hope to take your child or a friend out with you, you will either need two tree stands or a larger two-seat stand to accommodate you both.
Tree Stand Sets for Different Situations
Here are a few tried and true uses for different tree stand sets that you can use as a guideline. But it all ties back to the factors above, so tweak them as appropriate when setting up a tree stand.
Large Fields, No Trees, Private Land
The first category isn’t strictly a tree stand set, but sometimes you need to hunt in more open areas where there aren’t trees available. Tower stands and ground blinds are both great options for these scenarios. Tower stands work well for gun hunting so you can cover a large field effectively, but they can also be used for bow hunting along field edges. Ground blinds are better used for close range hunting since your visibility is somewhat limited versus being up higher in a tree.
The Muddy® Bull Box Blind 6×6 with 10-foot platform is a great option for a couple hunters or for large fields. Since you are fully contained inside, it provides great scent control, keeps you warmer, and hides.
For ground blinds, the Ameristep® Doghouse Blind is a great option that’s easy on the hunting budget. It sets up very quickly due to the spring steel popup design, which can keep you mobile.
Thick Conifers, Branched Hardwoods, Private Land
You’ve probably hunted in one of these areas before. Conifers or hardwoods with lots of branches – how do you possibly get a climber or even a hang on ladder section up the tree? You don’t. Ladder tree stands are one of the best tree stand sets for this category of land and habitat. With the help of a partner, you can quickly prop a ladder stand into the branch structure of the tree, secure it, and trim away any branches that are in the way. The branched background helps disguise your silhouette from nosy boss does and cautious bucks alike. These areas can also be great travel corridors for deer (especially when hunting the full moon), so you can catch a buck trailing a doe during the rut.
The Summit® “The Vine” double ladder tree stand is a creative option for deer that are a little pressured and discerning of tree stand ladders. Its ladder section is cleverly disguised as a vine, which deer see often in grape vines, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, etc. Since it is a double-wide tree stand, you can bring someone else with you, which is perfect for more semi-permanent locations on private land.
Bedding Areas, Timber Food Sources, Water Sources, Public Land
When the rut is in full swing, bucks are on the move, and so should you be. A climbing tree stand or hang on tree stand are both perfect choices for such an occasion. By sneaking in on the downwind side of doe bedding areas, near oak flats/apple trees, or water sources, you have a solid chance of encountering a buck as it patrols for does. One thing to note about these tree stand sets is that you definitely need to include a fall restraint/safety system. While still being very safe, there is always a risk when being in a tree. A safety system should always be on your bow hunting packing list. As for tree stand placement on public land, the best location to hunt is often away from easily accessible trails, so you can catch less-pressured deer.
The Lone Wolf® Sit and Climb II climber tree stand is a comfortable option for all day sits in remote locations. It fits trees from 6 to 19 inches in diameter and can be easily packed with you.
The Big Dog® Bearcat XL hang on tree stand comes with a padded back rest, shooting rail, and foot rest, so it is comfortable and stable for all day firearm hunts.
Good Luck Hunting
As you get out for the rut this season, we hope you can use these tree stand setups to get on a mature buck. Because no matter where you hunt, you should be able to use at least one of these sets to stack the odds in your favor and punch your tag.