Portable Tree Stands and a Healthy Dose of Stealthy Hunting

BY THE TIME THE BURLY KANSAS 11-POINTER sensed something and looked up, I was already at full draw. I'd slipped into his bedroom that morning and taken the perfect perch only four hours earlier. And he never had a chance to react before my arrow hit home. That day, I was hunting from a fixed-position tree stand.

Although these types have not been considered particularly stealthy in the past, the perception is changing. Today's portable hang-ons, with vastly improved fastening systems, can be put up in virtual silence, making lightweight models ideal all-purpose stands. You can carry them easily into remote areas; attach them to trees that leave climbers grounded; and leave them up for a day, a week, or a season. And many are comfortable enough to sit in all day. Here are six great models:

1. GorillaExpedition Magnum Hunter Lite ($150; 800-241-4833; gorillatreestands.com)

WEIGHT: 13½lb. CONSTRUCTION: Welded aluminum. PLATFORM SIZE: 24x30 in. FASTENING SYSTEM: Easy-cinching dual-claw nylon strap. EXTRAS: Leveling system, backpack straps. THE SKINNY: This is the toughest stand you'll ever own. The webbed seat issurprisingly comfortable.

2. Lone WolfAlpha Assault ($189; 414-744-4984; lonewolfstands.com)

WEIGHT: 8½ lb. CONSTRUCTION: Cast aluminum. PLATFORM SIZE: 19½x27½ in. FASTENING SYSTEM: Nylon strap, V-bracket, and Versa Button attachment. EXTRAS: Leveling system, backpack straps, bow holder. THE SKINNY: The Assault is deadly quiet, simple to hang, and incrediblylightweight.

3. North StarrStarr Lite ATA ($190; 517-439-1313; northstarrtreestands.com)

WEIGHT: 9 lb. CONSTRUCTION: Welded aircraft aluminum. PLATFORM SIZE: 18x30 in. FASTENING SYSTEM: Fast Ratchet top strap; bottom strap with S-hooks. EXTRAS: Leveling system, hanging aid, foam backrest, backpack straps. THE SKINNY: With the best leveling system going, it's perfect for crookedtrees.

4. Summit DeerDeck Lite ($120; 256-353-0634; summitstands.com)

WEIGHT: 12 lb. CONSTRUCTION: Welded aluminum. PLATFORM SIZE: 20x28¾ in. FASTENING SYSTEM: Nylon straps with ratchets, top and bottom. EXTRAS: Leveling system. THE SKINNY: The ideal stand for tall hunters, this model has a generous seatheight, and you'll love the big platform on such a light stand.

5. Loggy BayouMonarch XL ($110; 870-881-9778; www.loggybayou.com)

WEIGHT: 10 lb. CONSTRUCTION: Aluminum. PLATFORM SIZE: 20x36 in. FASTENING SYSTEM: Reversible, removable straps. EXTRAS: Padded ADC (All Day Comfort) seat. THE SKINNY: Another light stand with a big platform, this one has the mostcomfortable seat--great for all-day hunting.

6. Cabela's E-ZHang ($100; 800-237-4444; cabelas.com)

WEIGHT: 13lb. CONSTRUCTION: Welded aircraft aluminum. PLATFORM SIZE: 20x26 in. FASTENING SYSTEM: Chain with E-Z Hang bracket. EXTRAS: Leveling system. THE SKINNY: Chain-on stands are typically noisier, of course, but the E-Z Hangbracket makes this very affordable model quiet and simple to put up.