The fact is, most hunters use both tree stands and blinds depending on what the situation calls for, but some vouch that tree stands are the most favorable method in almost any scenario.
How do you shoot deer from a tree stand? Hunting from a tree stand is extremely rewarding as it may be done with any type of weapon. There are, however, a few basic guidelines to consider, such as being well-prepared for taking your shot, compensating for shot angles, knowing your limits and being open to adapt when the situation calls for it.
To be prepared simply means that you have to be organized, structured and have all your gear in place for taking the shot. After all, you might only have a few seconds to safely grab your weapon, draw and place your shot without the luxury of a large window.
Furthermore, you want to ensure a quick, clean kill and you can achieve this by compensating for shot angles, especially if you are bowhunting deer.
Last but not least, you should be able to adapt and improve your set-up and strategies to make provision for the specific situation you are currently in. For example, a bow hunter should take into consideration the height, distance and shot angles in order to effectively place a shot.
Which tree stand to use will be determined by the situation and scenario you are dealing with. The three basic tree stands are ladder, hang-on and climbing stands, and while they are all sturdy options, you have to choose the appropriate one for your specific needs.
The type of area where you hunt and how you hunt are the most important determining factors when choosing a stand:
Area – if, for example, you want to use a climbing stand, but the area you are hunting makes it difficult to find the right trees, you might have to consider using hang-on stands. Just the same, if your hunting area consists mainly of straight, limbless trees, you might have to consider a climbing stand.
Hunting Style – hunting in the same area each year or even from the same tree, makes it more ideal for you to set up a few hang-on stands. You hang in the perfect, covered tree and when returning the following year you only have to check your shooting lanes and do some maintenance if necessary.
If, on the other hand, you are a hunter who likes to constantly be on the move, a climbing stand will be your preferred choice. You can easily carry it on your back with no sticks, and therefore offers you the mobility you want.
The best way to describe a ladder tree stand is a stand with a seat and platform. In addition to this, it includes a ladder to climb up into the stand.
Ladder tree stands are bulky and cannot easily be moved through the woods quietly and therefore they are mostly stationary. On the positive side, they offer good stability especially if used with a tree stand stabilizer.
On the downside, they might be heavy and uncomfortable to carry several miles back into public land.
Hang-on tree stands are sometimes also referred to as “sets.”
When it comes to hang-on tree-stands most hunters prefer these as their favorite tree stand. There reason? You aren’t as limited on where to hang them as with ladder and climbing stands, making them the ideal choice for just about any scenario. They are versatile, making it easy for you to hang them on almost any type of tree. In addition, you do not have to pack and unpack a stand on every trip, making it an ideal choice for bow hunters.
One of the most popular treestands is the HAWK Big Denali. You can click here to check it out on Cabela’s.
Climbing Stand (climber)
Several hunters prefer climbing stands since they are not as heavy and as bulky as ladder stands. Furthermore, they are ideal for hunting on public lands, flash hunts and when you want to take down your stand after each hunt.
On the downside, it might be quite a challenge to find a straight tree without large limbs which is what you will need for setting up your climbing stand.
And that brings us to choosing the right tree. The type of tree you choose is crucial since it will affect your ability to get off the ground and above the deer’s line of sight.
Take the following aspects into consideration:
- How wide it is – this includes how much of its width it carries upward. The idea is to find a tree that doesn’t lose much of its width as it goes up, meaning a tree that is thick both at the bottom and at the top.
- The angle of the tree.
- Branches that you might have to remove on your way up.
- A tree with some tough bark, the thicker the better.
When to hang a tree stand
All hunters agree that there is no clear-cut answer to when to hang a tree stand, since many variables play a role in the time of set-up, including you individual hunting style. You might be a structured, well-planned hunter who wants the stand to be ready before the hunt begins, or alternatively, a “last minute” type of hunter.
Different hunters have different ideas on how early to set up tree stands. For some, it makes sense to prepare the stand location some weeks or months prior to the actual hunt.
For others, “the sooner the better” means at least a month or two before the hunting season opens because they want to minimize intrusion when the hunt begins.
Last minute, on-the-go set-up
There are specific advantages to setting up stands on-the-go since you will be prepared for any type of situation and more so, to react to it. For example; hunters who are only used to having a perfect stand set-up in advance may easily miss out on an opportunity to kill merely because they could not set up a stand on the fly.
However, when you choose this style of hunt you have to be careful not to scare the buck and make it run off. So you should avoid chopping off branches and making loud noises while setting up your stand in a hurry.
Tips for setting up a tree stand in-season:
Firstly, use the wind to your advantage as it could easily mask the noise you make, but make sure that it is blowing in a safe direction away from any deer.
Secondly, you can use the rain to wash away your scent and enabling you to hang your stand and do some walking.
Thirdly, on cold days you might want to avoid hanging your tree stand. The reason being that deer are more likely to be more active at irregular times during the day and you are more likely to be noticed by them.
Check out this article for everything you need to know about hunting during the rain.
Finally, you might have to settle for less perfect shooting lanes and sometimes you might even have only a few shooting holes here and there because you cannot afford to do extensive cutting in season.
In conclusion, hanging your tree stand is not all about the perfect time to do so, but rather about picking the right set of strategies for your given resources at the time.
One of the biggest challenges for a deer hunter using tree stands is setting up a safe stand. You might want to consider the following safety tips:
- Use a safety strap or rope to connect you to the tree.
- Connect the bottom of the tree stand to the top.
- Secure your feet to the bottom of the tree stand.
- Wear a harness.
- Do regular maintenance on your stand.
Staying hidden from deer is one of the most rewarding experiences for any hunter because it contributes greatly to a successful hunt. Therefore you should spend a considerable amount of time on hiding your stand.
For example, you should use a tree with adequate back cover in order not to be outlined. You can stay hidden by choosing a tree with a large enough tree trunk and plenty of limbs.
Furthermore, you should put in great effort to blend into the environment, for deer might not have perfect eyesight but they sure can spot something which is out of place. You can solve this by making use of what your area offers, such as trees with plenty of branches and leaves. You may even add to your camouflage by using the branches which were cut for shooting lanes.
Another option to consider is using multiple tree stands since they offer you the opportunity to make provision for a variety of different scenarios. Think outside the box and create different tree stands for morning or evening hunts or for different wind combinations. In addition to this they also prevent overhunting in any given area.
Focus on moving deer means that you will set up your tree stand in corridors between food and bedding and between bedding and bedding areas. It is much less likely that deer will spot you when on the move than when they stop, stand and stare.
Finally, it is a known fact that you will find more deer close to food sources. Unfortunately, insisting on hunting major food sources are one of the top reasons that hunters spook deer. The solution is to make sure you are at least 50 yards or more away as this will ensure that you can sit in your stand and even climb without being detected.
Tree Stand Placement
How high should your tree stand be? It is safe to say that you should not hang your stand too high or too low. Of course, if you hang it too low it defeats the purpose of a tree stand and you might just as well settle for a ground blind. Placements of 10 to 12 feet are considered to be too low.
On the flipside, you also do not want to hang it too high as that will have a negative effect on the shot angle.
Most hunters agree that the best height to hang a tree stand is between 15 to 25 feet with, of course, 20 feet being the golden number.
When choosing the perfect spot for your tree stands, you should make sure that you hang your stands close (but not too close) to deer’s natural traveling routes. However, avoid hanging stands directly over trails as deer will smell you easier and it compromises your opportunity for a nice, ethical shot angle.
Can deer smell you in a tree stand? The answer is yes unless you take specific precautions, deer will smell you in your tree stand before they see or hear you.
The reason for this is that deer have a highly developed sense of smell. It is said that the nose of a whitetail deer has up to 297 million olfactory receptors compared to dogs with 220 million and humans a mere 5 million.
It is thus not surprising that they can detect the odor of looming danger several yards away. It is suggested that they can also smell fear and even your emotions. A good example is when you sit high up in the tree, a deer comes in without having seen or heard you and suddenly looks up at you as if he has some sixth sense. This is why it is crucial for any hunter to hunt with the breeze in your face.
And just when you think you have taken adequate precautions not to be detected, scientists estimate that a whitetail deer can detect human scent for up to 10 days after it has been left in a specific spot.
However, their above average sense of smell is much needed not only to avoid predators but also to identify other deer, to identify food sources and most importantly for scent communication with other deer.
To conclude, a most interesting study suggests that not even carbon lined clothing and odor absorbing suits will keep a whitetail deer from detecting hunters. This suggestion is based on 42 trials conducted on dogs.
They furthermore suggest that wearing silver ion clothing might be the only effective fabric for preventing you from being smelled by deer.