Saturday, August 29, 2009

Choosing The Right Treestand for The Perfect Ambush

© By Othmar Vohringer

Over ninety percent of hunters prefer hunting from treestands and quite rightly so. Hunting from an elevated position will get the hunter above the sight and smell of animals. Hunting from a treestand, unlike other methods such as stalking and deer drives, is a low impact method which means that a hunter is less likely to get patterned by deer or alert them in other ways of his presence.

However, to make treestand hunting work to your advantage the often-overlooked factor of choosing the right stand model for you and the area you hunt is very important. Given the large variety of models and brands available, choosing the right treestand can be a daunting task. To help you make the right stand model choice we will look at the different models in the coming few days.

Basically treestands are divided into four models. These are: fixed position stands, climbing stands, ladder stands and although not strictly a treestand, tripod stands fall into that category too. Despite the variation of the stand models there are a few basics that apply to all treestands and treestand hunting.

Every hunter should be aware that no matter what type of stand is chosen they all require some agility and strength to transport and to set up. In the many years I have hunted from treestands I have yet to find a model that is comfortably light to transport for much more than a half-mile. Even the lightest models can be of considerable weight when combined with climbing sticks or screw-in steps. A light quality stand weighs around 10 to 14 pounds but add to that the weight of the steps at (give or take) another 6 to 8 pounds and you could end up with close to or just over 20 pounds that you have to haul on your back to your stand location.

I strongly recommend going with a stand that has been manufactured by a member of the Treestand Manufacturer Association (TMA). Members of this organization periodically undergo unannounced product safety and quality checks to guarantee quality of the materials and workmanship. Stands from TMA members usually are a little bit more expensive than those of non-TMA members. In my opinion a few extra dollars are well spent on a device that potentially could kill you if poorly manufactured with cheap materials. It is for the same reason that I do not recommend using a D-I-Y-stand made with 2 x 4’s nailed to a tree. These contraptions are just not safe to use in the long run.

A good treestand should have a decent sized standing platform of at least 20 inches by 29 inches and a comfortably sized and padded seat. There is nothing worse than sitting perched like a crow on a branch for up to six or more hours on an uncomfortable stand. An uncomfortable seat will make treestand hunting a battle of endurance and lead to fidgeting around and this in turn alerts deer to your presence.

The treestand has to be easy to install and hang onto the tree. It is a very different matter to hang a stand onto a tree with both feet on the ground compared to 15 feet, or higher, off the ground with your feet balancing on a narrow metal rod step and your upper body tied to the tree trunk. I like fixed stand models that come with a hanging bracket. This permits me to hang the stand onto the bracket that is previously attached to the tree trunk, freeing both my hands up to fasten the stand to the tree versus having only one hand free to install the stand.

In a climbing treestand I look for the same things as in a fixed stand: comfort and a decent sized standing platform. In addition I like climbing stands that can be quickly and quietly assembled with only a few pins. It is easy to assemble a stand in daylight with lots of different straps, nuts and bolts making the need for tools necessary. But try that same task before daylight, when most of these stands are assembled during a morning hunt and it will become a frustrating nightmare placing all the tiny nuts and bolts in the right position. Forget it if you happen to drop a small bolt in the dark, you never will find it again on the forest floor. Fortunately, treestand manufactures have become more concerned about practicality and offer modes that do not need any assembling.

In order for a treestand to be of any use as an element of a surprise ambush the stand has to be quiet to transport and to hunt from. A stand that rattles as you walk through the woods or is squeaking and popping each time you move on it is worthless. All stands can at times make a popping noise, especially when the temperature falls below freezing. Here I am talking about stands that produce noise constantly and in my experience stands with riveted rather than welded frames are the culprits.

To summarize what all stands should have in common:

A good quality stand wears the TMA seal of approval, is safe to use and comfortable to sit on, easy to install and quiet. The brand name of the stand is of no consideration to me. What is important is the model design. Discussing brands is like discussing cars. Each person has his or her favorite. There are those that like Fords and others who prefer Chevys. It’s the same with treestand brands. If you’re in the market for a new stand try out as many models as you can to find the one that comes close to suit your needs of comfort and the environment you intend to use the stand in.

In the next post we will look at fixed stands and what situations they suit best.

Related articles:
Treestand Hunting Safety Tips

Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
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