If you’re a gun hunter, a tree stand is a great tool to help you bag the buck of your dreams. If you’re a bowhunter, a tree stand is invaluable for getting you up close to (and unscented by) your prey. Here’s a basic tutorial on how to hunt deer from a tree stand.
Choosing Your Treestand
First, the treestand itself. There are a variety of different treestands, from super lightweight packable models to heavy, robust ladder models, models that set-up in a flash and are super quiet, and models that take some preparation (and possibly a friend) to set up properly. For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume you’ve already chosen your preferred type of tree stand.
Where to Set Up Your Treestand
Now, the question is, where to set it up.
The vast majority of treestands should be set in one of three places: (1) near a plentiful food source to intercept deer on the evening feed (agricultural field, food plot etc.); (2) near a good bedding area to intercept deer coming back to bed in the morning (wooded ridge, bench, or any thick cover); or (3) a travel corridor between the two (ridges, creek bottoms, fence lines).
Smart hunters typically sit in the least intrusive places (feeding areas) early in the season, get increasingly aggressive (travel corridors and bedding areas) as the rut nears and peaks, and then back off again for the late season.
For bowhunting, a tree that is 12 to 25 yards off the hottest sign is just about right. Farther than that makes for a long shot, and shorter makes for a steep angle.
For gun hunting, go with a tree that is as far from the hottest sign as you can get and still have a clear, high-percentage shot, preferably with a long, wide view to both woods and an opening.
Select a tree that is wide enough to hide your profile but narrow enough that you can climb it—make sure you can get your arms and legs around it for easier climbing.
The average stand height is between 15 and 20 feet, with most closer to 15 feet. In many situations, you don’t even have to go that high. The idea is to stay above the deer’s sight line, and deer tend not to look above the horizon unless spooked.
If you have good cover and a steady wind, don’t hesitate to put your stand much lower.
In areas where there’s little cover or fickle breezes, it’s best to go higher, above the deer’s line of sight and hopefully where your scent will ride along higher breezes. If you put your stand on a downhill slope, you might have to go high in order to stay above the sight line of deer higher on the slope.
Time to Climb
Once you’ve got your height set, it’s time to climb aboard, check your sight lines. If necessary, trim back branches with a saw. But only remove what you have to. Remember, the idea is to be invisible.
With all your preparation complete, now you’re ready to sit and wait for that dream buck.