Safety & Comfort in the Treetops

Safety & Comfort in the Treetops

The longer you hunt whitetails, the more you appreciate just how valuable the right tree stand can be. Check out these models, designed by folks who are themselves avid hunters.

By Bill Winke

Your stand can make or break your season. I know, because I've struggled with stands that didn't fit the way I was hunting, and it didn't take long to get discouraged.

Why, then, do so many hunters take stand selection for granted? Perhaps they don't realize just how big an impact it can have on their comfort, safety and hunting results.


THE BEST STAND FOR YOUR HUNTING STYLE


Before you head out in search of a new tree stand, think about how and where you'll be using it. Not every hunter's needs are alike.

Low-mobility strategies: Each year, millions of deer hunters sit in portable stands they rarely, if ever, move. Ladder stands are perfect for this type of hunting. The best ones provide the ultimate in security and comfort, with just a touch of portability. Ladders are easy to climb and give a sense of security not found in any other style of elevated platform. Having a half-dozen such stands, covering the best travel routes in the area, will provide a hunter with options all season.


Semi-mobile strategies: By adding a small degree of increased mobility to your strategy, you can also keep up with changing deer patterns. Large, comfortable fixed-position stands are the best style for this strategy. These popular models strap or chain to the tree's trunk and offer a large, padded seat and a spacious platform for added comfort and security. They need to weigh well under 20 pounds, so you can move them easily if the need arises.

Ultra-mobile strategies: It's an accepted truth that the first time you sit a new stand represents your best chance of seeing a good buck there. Thus, if you change stand locations often, you often can have better hunting results.


Lightweight stands make the tasks of packing and hanging much easier and more enjoyable. Because you'll rarely know exactly which type of tree you're going to find, stands with mounting flexibility are required. The perfect candidate will have a long strap or chain to attach to large trees, or it will mount with a secondary system such as a pin or pre-attached strap, making it easer to install.

Climbing-stand strategies: A climber offers a good alternative to fixed-position stands for hunters who prepare a limited number of pre-scouted locations each year. They tend to weigh roughly twice as much as lightweight fixed-position stands and are best suited to relatively straight, limbless trees, but if those aren't among your concerns, give climbers a good look.

With these strategies in mind, here are two very good brands to consider:

Cast aluminum platforms and seats are a trademark of all Lone Wolf tree stands. This eliminates unwanted squeaks.

Lone Wolf stands are unlike any others on the market. The platforms and seats on all of these stands are solid pieces of cast aluminum, so there are no seams to weaken or make noise. The stands are also spacious and lightweight. Lone Wolf makes two climbers and one fixed-position stand.

The Alpha climber comes in two models. The Sit & Climb Combo weighs 17 pounds and has a platform size of 30x19 1/2 inches. It fits trees up to 20 inches in diameter and ascends using the stand-up, sit-down climbing method. The Alpha Hand Climber Combo utilizes a hand climber with the same platform. You pull your weight up, much like doing dips at the health club, as you climb. This setup weighs just 14 1/2 pounds and has the same large platform.

The Alpha Hang On attaches to the tree through an E-Z Hang Hook system you place around the tree at seat level. After hanging the stand, you tighten a strap around the tree to further secure the stand to it.

I've hunted from the Alpha Hang On quite a bit during the past three years. It is easy to put up, comfortable and extremely quiet. The stand also has slots that make it very easy to level the platform. The platform is large (30x19 1/2 inches), and the seat is 21 inches high. The Alpha Hang On weighs just 10 1/2 pounds.

Like other Summit stands, the new Clear Shot climber is made of welded aluminum.

Summit portable stands are extremely rigid and strong, and they're made entirely in the U.S. Five years ago, the company went from producing only steel stands to welded aluminum stands that feature "snap-lock" construction. The pieces snap together, then are welded into place.

Summit is the king of climbing stands, with eight of them joining two fixed-position stands in the current line. Rather than discuss all of the climbers, I've picked two models that showcase important features available this year.

The Viper has long been the most popular climbing stand in the line, and it's easy to see why. First, the stand attaches easily and quickly to the tree through the company's highly adjustable cable system. For 2004, Summit made it even more efficient with the addition of the Quick-Draw cable trigger. The trigger locks the cable in place until you pull it. That keeps the cable from accidentally coming out of its cradle.

Another unique feature of Summit climbers is the new RapidClimb stirrups. Mounted on the inside edge of the platform, they make climbing quick and easy.

The Viper climbs using the stand-up, sit-down method, and everything on the stand is padded: armrest, backrest, seat and front safety bar. The platform is 20x36 inches and weighs 20 pounds.

The Bullet Backpacker folds flat for backpacking and storage in your vehicle. In addition, it has all of the same features as the Viper. The platform is the same size, but the stand weighs 2 pounds more. Like the Viper, it will climb trees from 8 to 20 inches in diameter.

Both of Summit's fixed-position stands hang from a strap with a steel clevis. You put the strap up first and then pull the stand up and hang it in

place. This is much easier than trying to hold the stand up with one hand, feed the strap around the tree with another, and attach it to the stand with a third. (Oops, that's one too many hands. You get the picture.)

The Headhunter has a 20x32-inch platform and a padded seat, and it weighs just 10 pounds. The new 12-pound Copperhead has a 20x36-inch platform and a padded seat.

Safety, comfort and quiet reliability are the features to look for in a portable stand. If you're in the market for one this year, check out the options listed here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Battling Breeding Bucks

Battling Breeding Bucks

Stan Potts heads to his home state of Illinois to hunt whitetails with his bow during the November rut.

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Jeremy Moore talks about the importance of your deer dog's physical conditioning.

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

Dr. James Kroll provides tips for hunting whitetails with a handgun.

Deer Dog: Puppy Pitfalls

Deer Dog: Puppy Pitfalls

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore explores the pitfalls of puppy training.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During different seasons, the nutritional requirements of bucks, does and fawns will vary slightly, but all three need water, protein, energy (fats and carbohydrates), calcium, phosphorus, sodium and fiber. Land Management

Whitetail Nutrition Calendar: What Deer Eat and When

Matt Haun

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During...

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to provide them with the ones they can't. Off-Season

Which Minerals Do Deer Need?

Dr. James C. Kroll

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to...

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting. Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

Not figuring the correct range to the target is a common mistake. How-To

Bullet Drop & Range Estimation

Travis Faulkner

Not figuring the correct range to the target is a common mistake.

See More Trending Articles

More Accessories

We've got you covered on the lightest-weight whitetail hunting options out there. Accessories

3 Ways to Go Lighter This Fall

Jace Bauserman

We've got you covered on the lightest-weight whitetail hunting options out there.

Having a successful hunt starts with choosing quality equipment. If you want to upgrade your treestand or ground blind, consider these options for 2018. Accessories

Top 2018 Treestands & Blinds

Haynes Shelton - November 06, 2018

Having a successful hunt starts with choosing quality equipment. If you want to upgrade your...

Check out our lineup of the best new gear that is strong yet lightweight enough for DIY backcountry hunting. Accessories

New DIY Hunting Gear and Camo Must-Haves

Haynes Shelton - August 01, 2018

Check out our lineup of the best new gear that is strong yet lightweight enough for DIY...

In looking at new products for whitetail enthusiasts, I focus mainly on brands with a reputation Accessories

Gordon Whittington's Top 5 Deer Hunting Products from SHOT Show 2018

Gordon Whittington - January 29, 2018

In looking at new products for whitetail enthusiasts, I focus mainly on brands with a...

See More Accessories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now