The view from the top of a mountain is often worth the climb. But can the same be said about deer hunting tree stands?
If you love hunting whitetail deer, it’s worth the time to find out before you spend your hard-earned money on a new one.
But, how can you know which type of stand is right for you?
We’ve compiled a list of the different types of deer hunting tree stands and the pros and cons of each. We hope this will help you make the right decision on which tree stand to use on your next whitetail hunt.
Before you spend your money, learn about the various types of deer stands below…
You can click the links below to jump straight to specific tree stand types:
Many whitetail hunters prefer ladder stands when they want entry into their hunting location to be as quiet as possible.
When set up ahead of time, ladder stands allow a hunter to walk quietly to their location without running the risk of metal clanging or of a sweaty setup that could leave unwanted scent on the ground and in the air.
Ladder stands with shooting rails can be extremely useful for rifle hunters.
Some hunters believe that when compared to climbing tree stands, ladder stands allow for not only a quiet entry into the woods, but a quieter climb.
Because the stand is already set up prior to the hunt, access can be made without worrying about about assembly. (No loud scraping or searching for pieces and parts of multi-part climbing or lock-on stands.)
Some deer hunters also prefer ladder stands because they don’t feel as safe in climbing stands or fixed position stands like lock-ons. Or, they may simply be physically unable to use climbers or lock-ons.
Ladder stands tend to have large seats and side rails. If set up properly, they are typically secured well to a tree and very sturdy. Many come with the option of a shooting rail, which is a plus for rifle hunters. Ladder stands can also be used for bow hunting if shooting rail is removed.
There are also “buddy” type ladder stands which allow for more than one person to sit in the stand. This feature can be very useful for when you are teaching a child to hunt or hunting with a significant other.
Some hunters don’t like to use ladder stands for deer hunting because they can be cumbersome to set up and can be easy to spot if not concealed well.
If you have any problems on your hunting land with theft, you might not want to go with a ladder stand. While they can require some sweat to take down and haul out of the woods, a hard-working thief might be up for the challenge.
Ladder stands can also require a “cleaner” tree for setup, as opposed to lock-on tree stands, which can set up without having to cut as many limbs. Some hunters prefer lock-on or hang-on tree stands, as opposed to ladder stands, because ladder stands are typically 20 ft or shorter.
Some ladder stands can accommodate multiple hunters
Less taxing physically to climb
Ladder stand Cons:
Setup can be cumbersome
Tree type can affect setup
Difficult to conceal
Limited stand height
Not wanting a ladder stand… how about “fixed position” tree stands?
Fixed Position Tree Stands
Fixed position tree stands include lock-on tree stands, sometimes referred to as hang-on tree stands. Lock-on tree stands are very useful when you know the exact location of where you want to have a stand.
For example, you may be hunting the edge of a food plot or attractant location that you know is traditionally well-traveled. Or you may want to have multiple stand locations set up, so you can hunt a particular stand based on current wind direction or deer movement.
Lock on tree stands (or hang-on stands) are typically able to be set up quickly. With the use of screw-in steps or stick ladders, they also are not as visibly disruptive to the hunting location as ladder stands can be.
While it’s not necessarily recommended to leave lock-on tree stands up year-round, they can be left up for the full season, allowing for quiet entry without disruptive noises that some climbing stands can produce. They also allow for a higher platform height than most ladder stands.
Lock-on stands are ideal for bow hunters, but if you feel the need to have a lot of standing room, you will want to choose a stand with a larger platform.
Lock-on stands tend to be much lighter weight than ladder stands, allowing for portability, easier pack and travel, and quick setup. Because screw-in steps and stick ladders can be used with hang-on stands, they also do not usually require as much limb trimming for that portion of the stand to be set up.
While lock-on stands tend to be conducive to bow hunters, without the use of a shooting rail, these types of tree stands can be difficult for a rifle hunter. And, while most don’t have side rails and other movement restrictions, that can leave some hunters feeling unsafe in the tree. (It is important to always use a safety harness when climbing up and down any treestand.)
Unless the hang-on stand you choose specifically has a large platform, limited foot space can be a concern for some hunters. So, if you like to have a lot of room to move around when standing, you should choose a stand with a larger foot platform.
Like ladder stands, lock-on stands can be the target of thieves. There are locking mechanisms available to serve as a deterrent, but a thief who is bent on stealing could still walk off with your lock-on stand due to its portability.
Still looking for your ideal tree stand? Read about climbing stands below…
Some hunters consider climbing tree stands (climbers) to be the most difficult to use. However, with proper practice and safety precautions, climbing stands provide hunters with some advantages in certain hunting scenarios.
Climbing stands are great for portable hunting, but require the tree you are wanting to hunt from to be free of limbs that would restrict climbing.
Climbing stands typically allow for easy setup and removal, meaning that you can enter the woods with your stand and leave with it at the end of the hunt. This prevents theft and also allows a hunter to be truly mobile and not be limited to predetermined deer stand locations.
Climbing stands can also pose some challenges in certain hunting situations. Unlike lock-on stands, climbers need trees with either no protruding limbs, or few enough so that they can be trimmed on the way up the tree.
Climbers also work best when the tree being climbed does not have a large discrepancy in diameter from the bottom of the tree to the height at which the stand will be secured for hunting. If the diameter changes drastically from bottom to top, the hunter may have to begin the climb with the foot platform at an uneven, and even steep angle. This can make climbing not only difficult, but dangerous as well. A properly fastened safety harness should always be used during climbing and at all times when in the deer stand.
When it comes to cover, climbers provide both an advantage and a disadvantage, depending on the hunting location.
For example, you might have plenty of trees on a piece of property that allow for easy climbing. However, if there are no other trees near the tree you want to climb to provide some cover for you while in the tree stand, you could find yourself sticking out like a sore thumb. And, contrary to what some believe, deer can and do look up at times, especially if they hear or smell something suspicious. It’s a good idea to climb near cover, so if that buck of a lifetime comes, you are not left wishing you had stayed hidden.
Up, Up And Away…
Climbing stands can also be much more physically taxing than ladder stands or lock-on stands. And, the effort exerted can produce one of the most unwanted by-products during a whitetail hunt… sweat. A sweaty hunter is a smelly hunter. For this reason, some hunter choose other types of tree stands instead of a climber.
Because climbing stands have to be unpacked and attached to a tree, some hunters feel that the risk of metal clanging, and other unwanted noises, isn’t worth the mobility advantages they can provide. Once attached to the tree, climbing stands also will generate noise during a hunter’s climb up the tree.
Tree saddles are almost in a different category than other “treestands.” So, just how would you describe a tree saddle? Well, if you could imagine a cross between a harness for rock climbing and a hammock… that would be a hunting saddle.
Tree saddles provide the strength of a heavy duty harness but also are comfortable; like sitting in a hammock.
In many traditional tree stands, you sit facing away from the tree. However, with a tree saddle, you are sitting facing the tree, and therefore are able to use it for cover.
The ability to shoot in all directions is just one reason tree saddle hunters rave about them.
Are tree saddles safe?
Unfortunately, many hunters don’t use any type of safety device with their tree stands. But one of the major pluses of saddle hunting is that the hunter doesn’t have a choice but to be safe while using it. This is because a hunting saddle connects to the tree by way of a built-in safety device.
So, under normal conditions, and when used per manufacturer’s instructions, it’s almost impossible for a hunter to fall from the tree. Whereas, a typical safety harness is designed to catch you if you fall from a tree, a tree saddle is designed in such a way that prevents the fall from happening in the first place.
Are tree saddles comfortable?
If you’re going to be in a tree for an extended period of time, it’s normal to wonder, “am I going to be comfortable?”
The short answer is “yes,” tree saddles are in fact very comfortable.
Once your body is “saddle ready,” tree saddles, like this one from Tethrd, can provide a very comfortable hunting experience.
Many users of tree saddles find that they are better the traditional tree stands. However, some can experience mild discomfort when using a tree saddle, such as “hip pinch,” or lower back discomfort, especially if they do not set up the saddle up correctly or if they use the wrong size.
Some users might experience discomfort simply due to pressure and angles that can be put on various parts of the body when hunting from a saddle. However, the more time you spend hunting from a saddle, the better your body will adapt to hunting from one. You will get in “saddle shape!”
Increased safety over traditional ladder, climbing and lock-on stands
The ability to use the tree as camo/cover
Portability and ability to shoot from 360 degrees
Tree Saddle Cons:
Soreness if not used to using tree saddle
If you are trying to determine which of these types of deer stands might be right for you, we hope you have found this post useful. Best of luck on your next hunt and please practice safe hunting and climbing!
At the core of the arrow spine conundrum, we have stiffness.
First, The Basics | What Is Arrow Spine?
The archery world has set a standard for arrow spine. Most companies follow it in this order:
The higher the number (400 spine), the softer, or more flexible arrow.
The lower number (250 spine) is a stiffer, or less flexible arrow.
I like to say one is “bendier” and the other is less “bendy.” I’m not sure that is even a word…. oh wait, I said it, so it IS a word, because I. AM. SPECIAL. Ha!!
Every arrow shaft has a certain degree of “bendiness.” This is known as the arrow spine.
Anyhoo, here is a very high-level overview of arrow spine…
The standard is to press the center of each arrow shaft at 28” width with a gizmo. This “gizmo” (arrow spine tester) only pushes so far. The gizmo has a gauge showing pressure and it shows the amount the arrow flexes. If it’s a softer spine, it bends further. If it’s stiffer, it bends less.
This is an example of an arrow spine tester. What could be more “gizmo” than this!
The arrow companies try to build a mixture of carbon and wall thickness to achieve consistent results to hit their targeted spine offerings.
Ok Class, Let’s Review!
So let’s review to be sure everyone is following the ‘ole Ranch Fairy’s tutelage…
Arrows, PVC and gardening wives… Just stay with me here
Since I like simple ideas, I am going to use one moving forward.
KEEP THIS PICTURE IN YOUR HEAD… You have a wife who is a gardener. (Of note, I have intimate knowledge of the following scenario… The names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
So anyway, this wife of mine, AHEM, I mean of yours, loves to plant new plants and RELOCATE existing plants and trees, despite the previously planted forest of plants and relocated plants.
Why the flowery springtime imagery? We’re supposed to be talking arrow spine here! Calm down, we’re getting there!
You also have a sprinkler system.
This woman, to whom you are betrothed, is amazing at requiring a couple of her 10 plants to be planted right on top of a sprinkler line. Now, you suspect you’re going to hit a water line, but when, when, when????” (I mean, she doesn’t even have water witching sticks or anything to be considerate!!!)
When it comes to carbon arrows, it’s easy – there are only 4 spines… (RANCH FAIRY DISCLAIMER!! see caption below before you blow me up with your comments!)
Remember this… flying sticks change when you cut them! FACT.
If you are an archery nerd, you’re going to rat me out because there are in fact more than 4 spines. Some companies offer 600 and 500 spines, then much stiffer 200 and 150. A couple of the companies have their own way of doing things like: 320 / 260 / 140….oh I feel the love of being an individual! But, PRACTICALLY SPEAKING, there are 4 spines for the average yahoo trying to kill a deer, with a bow: (400/350/300/250). This is because 90% of us yahoos shoot 50-70#. So, those are the most common starting points to build a reasonable arrow for hunting from 400 grains and a flapper (skeet load) to 700 grains and a hammer (magnum).
The reality is that there are gazillions of spine charts and programs out there. The quality of the information is wide and varied, so I am not going to worry about that now.
I want you to understand what happens to the flying stick, when you change the length of that flying stick.
I have tested everything from here forward so, let’s get something real straight. EVERY minor length change to the stick, changes the stick.
But I recommend you bare shaft and recheck everything, any change, for perfect arrow flight. Heck – it might work….it might not.
Oh, I don’t think it’s going to be doing loops. But, broadheads may be just that much different. They may wander 2” left or do some other annoying thing that changes a quick kill to a longer trail.
There are more details… yup, super annoying! Yup, super massive! It would be a ton to digest all at once.
Point weight, broadheads, lighted nocks, even fletching style (somewhat) and any amount of weight added (think wraps) to the back of the arrow messes with the flying stick. Even when the stick length doesn’t change. Isn’t that just wonderful?
Targets are boring. Perfect arrow flight to get the flying stick there is required. I have multiple videos on arrow tuning. But read this and ponder.
“An arrow is always flying, in the air, or in hair, meat, and bone, it is always flying”
Dr. Ed Ashby
If that arrow is a little sideways in the air at TAC, 3-D tournaments or your local indoor range, who cares?
One inch of penetration on a target is the same score as 12” of penetration.
But, at impact on any target animal, “The arrow is always flying.” Flying that arrow just a little sideways erodes penetration, and lack of penetration reduces lethality. Your goal is maximum arrow lethality.
Check out our interactive diagram below to test your knowledge!
You might be new to the sport of bowhunting and be looking to learn all you can about it.
Or, maybe you are a seasoned bowhunter wanting to test your knowledge.
Either, way this one’s for you!
In the interactive diagram below, you can click/touch the NUMBER of the parts in the chart below to reveal the names of each item. You can read more about what each part is and does in the sections below the diagram.See how many you can get right!
Interactive Parts of A Compound Bow Diagram
Compound Bow Parts | Piece-By-Piece
In the above diagram of the Nexus2 by Prime Archery, you can view the parts of a compound bow. Find out more about what each part does by clicking the words below:
On a compound bow, the cams are the round, or oval-shaped discs that work much like a block-and-tackle pulley system. The cams are connected to the axles of the bow.
The cams act as the “multiplier” of the energy of the person pulling the bow string. This allows the bow to store more energy than the person pulling the bow string is actually exerting.
The bow has a “back wall” where the cams will not turn any more. This is where the archer is at “full draw.” At this point, there is a percentage of “letoff” that allows the archer or hunter to hold the force of the bow at a fraction of the actual pounds of pull being exerted.
For example, a bow that is set to a 70-lb draw weight with a 70% letoff will only take 21 lbs of force to hold at full draw. The energy is stored in the bow’s limbs until the archer releases, which unleashes the multiplied energery, propelling the arrow toward its target.
So, the cams of the bow are what change the bow in essence from a traditional bow to a compound bow.
Limb dampeners reduce the noise and vibration throughout the limbs and riser of the bow.
When the hunter or archer releases the arrow the sudden and powerful uncoiling of the string on the cams produces vibration, which causes noise. The limb dampeners help to absorb that vibration, resulting in a quieting of the bow.
This absorption by the limb dampeners is especially helpful in reducing noise when hunting deer or other wild game and also reduces the amount of vibration that is transferred to the archer.
A compound bow’s limbs are connected to the riser and store the energy that is collected when the string is pulled and the cams turn. When the string is released, the energy from the limbs is transferred to the arrow, which propels it through the air.
Most compound bow limbs are made up of fiberglass or composite material. Some bow limbs are solid, one-piece limbs. Others are “split,” having a gap between both sides of the upper and lower limbs.
The riser is the vertical portion and foundation of a compound bow. The limbs attach to it and it also serves as the fastening point for accessories such as the sight, arrow rest, grip, stabilizer, quiver, etc.
Sight mounts are holes in the riser that serve as the attaching point for the bow’s sight. The archer will look through the peep on the bow string and at the pin(s) of the sight to aim at the target or game animal.
The Cable guard runs perpendicular to the bow’s riser. It keeps the bow’s cable out of the way of the arrow’s line of fire. It typically has rollers and/or slides attached to it to aid in keeping the cable on track.
Rest mounts are holes in the riser that serve as the attaching point for the bow’s rest. The rest is what holds the arrow in place while the archer is drawing and releasing the arrow.
There are many different types of rests. Some use prongs that the arrow will rest on, while others hold the arrow up and then fall out of the way when the arrow is released. Others, called containment rests, completely surround the arrow until it is fired and typically have no moving parts.
The arrow shelf is the area of the riser where the arrow sits on the rest. While the rest typically holds the arrow off the shelf on compound bows, traditional bows (non-compound) usually have the arrow resting directly on the arrow shelf.
The stabilizer mount is a universal size threaded hole in the riser that is used to attach a stabilizer to.
The stabilizer helps balance and thus “stabilize” the bow when drawing and shooting, and also typically has vibration dampening properties. In essence, it helps the bow resist movement during the draw cycle and when shooting.
The back of the stabilizer also typically serves as the fastening point for the wrist sling.
Bows with parallel limbs (which eliminate cam lean) will have a string splitter. On these types of bows, the main part of the string that the archer attaches the release to “splits” just before the cams.
The splitter is what essential turns the single string into two strings, each going around its respective cam.
The cable(s) runs between the bow’s cams. They assist in moving the cams of the bow when the string is pulled back by the archer. It’s important to replace your cable(s) as well as your string as recommended per the bow manufacturer’s instructions or on the advice of your local bow shop.
The “center serving” is coiled thread wrapped around the center portion of your string where you would nock an arrow and attach a D-loop. The center serving protect the center section of the string from wear and tear that results from nocking arrows as well as drawing and shooting the bow.
There is also serving material on areas of your bow string that go around the cams or through rollers that are attached to the cable guards. This helps the bow string stay together, especially in places that are likely to received the most friction.
String vibration is a large cause for noise when a bow fires. A string stop helps dampen that vibration and thus reduces unwanted noise. The string stop is a rubber part that is often mounted on a post that is directly opposite of the front stabilizer.
The string stop not only helps dampen vibration, but also aids in better accuracy for the shooter, often resulting in tighter arrow groups at the target.
“Axle-to-axle” is not a part of a compound bow, but rather a reference to measurement. Axle-to-axle is the measurement from the center of one cam to the other. The axles go through the center of the cams.
This axle-to-axle measurement is often used to determine how forgiving the bow will be in regards to arrow flight accuracy when taking farther shots.
A bow with a longer axle-to-axle height may be more forgiving that a shorter one, but may also be difficult to maneuver in tight-quarter hunting scenarios.
The “brace height” is not a part of the bow, but rather a measurement, in inches, of the distance between the “throat” of the grip to the center of the bow’s string.
A shorter brace height means a longer “power stroke,” which is the distance from the grip to the center of the string when the archer is at full draw. A longer power stroke typically means a faster bow, as it increases the amount of time that the arrow is attached to the string.