10 Things To Know Before You Buy A Tree Stand For Deer Hunting

Few things can give you the advantage over a big buck like a comfortable, well-placed tree stand.

Elevated deer stands put hunters above a deer’s normal field of view, giving tree stand hunters a distinct advantage over those hunting from the ground. Hunting from a tree stand also gives deer hunters a better overall view of the surrounding area, allowing them to see—and harvest—deer they might never have even seen hunting at ground level. However, knowing what factors are important when purchasing your first deer stand requires a little research. Here are 10 things to consider before buying a tree stand for deer hunting.

Type

Summit Stoop Hang-on Treestand
This simple hang-on stand is easy to carry and simple to hang, giving you the edge over a big buck.Walmart

There are three main types of tree stands available to give you that elevated edge you need to bag a big buck. Hang-on stands are simple stands that attach to a tree by a belt or chain and require steps or climbing sticks to access. Some are stable, others a little rickety. Ladder stands, available in both single- and double-wide configurations, are usually very stable, and the ladder attached to the stand makes them easy to access. But they are heavy and most require two people to put them in place. Climbing tree stands are two-piece stands that are used to climb a tree and then hunt from once the desired elevation is reached. They are less stable than ladder stands, but are easy to carry way back into the woods where the big bucks live.

Size

Realtree Two-man treestand
This two-man ladder stand allows two hunters to sit together, providing an excellent opportunity to teach new hunters the ins and outs of deer hunting.Walmart

Size is also critical in your tree stand selection. The main size consideration is getting a stand wide enough for your anticipated use. If you plan to hunt with a youngster or other hunter, you'll definitely want to look at double stands, most of which are ladder stands. Even if you are hunting by yourself, you'll enjoy the room and comfort of a double ladder stand. But if you plan to always hunt by yourself, width isn't as big of factor as weight. Those planning to carry their stands a long distance to their hunting area will enjoy a hang-on or climbing stand for their reduced weight when compared to a ladder stand.

Comfort

XOP Tree Stand
The well-padded seat on this model ensures you’ll stay in the woods longer, increasing your chances at putting venison in the freezer.Walmart

There's only one thing for certain about deer hunting: If you're not out in the woods or fields hunting, there's no way you are going to bag a buck. That's why a comfortable tree stand is so important to deer hunting success. If your stand is a literal pain in the butt, you're far more likely to head to camp early. And that buck of a lifetime might just meander by minutes after you've left the area. A comfortable stand with lots of padding and a good back rest, however, will allow you to sit in your stand for longer periods of time. And that's right where you need to be if you really want to punch your tag.

Weight Capacity

Summit Viper Steel Treestand
This climbing stand has a 300-pound weight capacity, so will work even for plus-size hunters.Walmart

Weight capacity of tree stands is important because it's a matter of safety. If your tree stand breaks and falls from 15 feet or so off the ground, you're very likely to be injured, possibly seriously. If you are a heavier hunter, carefully check the weight capacity on the tree stands you are considering. Then choose one with a weight capacity far above the combined weight of you and your hunting equipment. Choosing a stand with a capacity very near your weight is risky and not worth the dollars saved.

Height

Big Game 18ft Guardian XLT Two-Person Ladderstand
This two-man ladder stand reaches a full 18 feet, putting you well out of your quarry’s line of sight.Walmart

Stand height is mainly related to ladder stands, since hang-on and climbing stands are pretty flexible in relation to height. Taller ladder stands can put you up higher above a deer's line of sight and into a better position to see all your surroundings, but they're also typically more expensive and heavier. If you can identify the tree in which you intend to hang your ladder stand before you purchase it, you can determine how high of stand will attach at just the right height for that particular tree. For most trees, higher is better. But some trees are just tailor made for shorter stands, so purchasing a tall one can make hanging it more difficult.

Tree Availability

Realtree Two-man Tripod
A tripod stand—this one made for two hunters—can give you the elevation you need when no trees are available in your hunting area.Walmart

Lots of deer hunting takes place in heavily wooded areas, so finding a tree isn't much of a challenge. But other areas can have so few tall or straight trees that good tree stand sites are nearly impossible to locate. That's where tripod stands come into play. These stand-alone perches put you up at tree stand height with no tree required. Many have rails around them for safety and shooting ease, have padded seats for comfort and some even have room for two hunters. When placed in the corner of a field with a good backdrop hiding your silhouette, a tripod stand can be just the ticket for punching your tag when tree availability is slim.

Safety Harness

Summit Sport Harness
Tree stand safety is one of the most important aspects of elevated hunting. A good safety harness like this one could save your life in the event of a fall.Walmart

No conversation about tree stand hunting is complete without a discussion of tree stand safety. Far more deer hunters are killed and injured each year in tree stand accidents than in any other manner. The reason why is simple to understand: Newton's laws of gravity require a hard meeting with the ground if you happen to somehow fall. Don't just settle for any old safety harness. Look for one that is easy to use and comfortable to wear. If either of those attributes aren't present, you're far more likely to leave it at the truck instead of taking it to the woods with you. Let's be clear: There is absolutely no reason you should ever get into a tree stand without a safety harness—ever.

Climbing Sticks

Big Dog Hot Foot Climbing Stick
A good set of climbing sticks like this is necessary to safely climb into a hang-on stand.Walmart

As mentioned earlier, hang-on stands—the simplest and usually most inexpensive type of tree stand—require you to climb a tree to get to them. Freestyle shinnying up a tree might sound like a good time, but when loaded with hunting gear it is both inconvenient and dangerous. The best answer is a good set of climbing sticks. These devices usually come in several sections that are attached together and then strapped in place against a tree, giving you ladder access to your stand. Because they come in pieces, you can leave some at home to climb up to lower stands. Note that climbing sticks with steps across from each other are more comfortable and easier for many people to climb than those with alternating steps.

Camouflage

Tree Stand Climber Climbing Hunting Camping
This camouflaged climbing stand can help you blend in with your surroundings better than many other stands.Walmart

While not exactly a make-or-break aspect, whether or not your tree stand is well camouflaged could, in some instances, make the difference in whether you get a buck or not. That's especially true for bowhunters, who require deer to be very near to take a shot. If you are bow or crossbow hunting, or plan to shoot deer with a rifle at close distances, make sure your stand is either camouflaged or has a flat, nonreflective finish. There's no use in taking a chance when success is on the line. For a tree stand you intend to rifle hunt from, camouflage might not be necessary. But, make sure the stand doesn't have any shiny finish, or even small reflection off your stand might send your buck hightailing it.

Shooting Rest

Two-man Ladderstand w/ Realtree Padded Seat
The shooting rest on this two-man ladder stand provides additional safety plus stability for those shooting a gun, muzzleloader or crossbow.Walmart

Shooting rests further complicate tree stand selection because they are great for some purposes, but can be a huge nuisance in other situations. If you're going to be mainly bowhunting with a compound or recurve, a stand with a built-on shooting rest is almost guaranteed to get in your way. And if the lower limb of your bow happens to hit the rest during the shot, it can knock your arrow off target, causing you to miss. Conversely, if you hunt with a rifle, muzzleloader or crossbow, a good shooting rest is nearly a must-have on your deer stand. Even when shaky from buck fever, a sturdy rest will help you make the kind of shot you need to fill the freezer this winter.

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