Tree Stand Maintenance

If you are like a lot of hunters, you may have used your stand(s) year after year and not given a thought to checking for signs of wear and tear, or carrying out any maintenance!tree stand

Most modern tree stands are made out of metal and are therefore subject to wear, stress and fatigue. All stands have some yearly deterioration.

The best time to start the maintenance cycle is immediately after the season before you store the stand. Checking it for wear and tear, missing nuts or bolts, cracks, bends, breaks and rusting. Check the hanging brackets, straps, cables and chains. Store in a dry location.

Carry out the same check just before the season, and if necessary practice using it before the season so you are familiar with it.

It is also good to check a stand that is left up during part of the season. Strong winds swaying trees can loosen bracing straps and chains.

 Ladder Stands

The real concern is with ladder stands that are composed of wood [and usually the steps that are used to reach them].

 

The other concern is that trees are live and grow [but the stand doesn’t].

The main challenges with using wood is that it rots over time and the fixings will usually rust as well. When the wood rots it can sometimes be hard to see from the outside, and its not until some weight is applied that the extent of the rot is known.

Since most tree stand falls occur climbing or descending to the stand, the wooden steps are critical.

The inspection before you use the stand should be done several weeks before using it so there is time for any repairs before the season commences and the woods can settle down again.

Look for signs of damage or rot to the wood. Check the nails or screws for rusting and security. The platform base and supports should be examined for rot, movement, insecure fittings and deterioration. Even galvanized hardware rusts and may break caused by the swaying of trees and the weight of snow or ice.

If the ladder stand is made of metal, inspect and tighten all nuts and bolts as they can loosen over time.

Closely inspect all welds. It can be hard to see hairline cracks, so inspect the paint for cracks. Always replace any parts with originals as the local hardware stuff may not have the required tensile strength etc.

If any rust is found, remove it, prime and repaint the area to prevent further deterioration.

Check the connection points of cables or straps to ensure the attachment is secure.

Check to make sure all pins or s-hooks are not bent or rusted and replace if in doubt.

Check all connections on the ladder joining sections and pins for a snug fit.

Fixed Stands

These are know as hang-on or lock-on stands are are fixed to the tree with a ratcheted strap or chain, and accessed with a ladder or screw-in steps. They are normally made of metal.

tree stand

Start by inspecting and tightening all nuts and bolts as they can loosen over time.

Look for bends, stress cracks, wear and rust.

Closely inspect all welds. It can be hard to see hairline cracks, so inspect the paint for cracks. Always replace any parts with originals as the local hardware stuff may not have the required tensile strength etc.

If any rust is found, remove it, prime and repaint the area to prevent further deterioration.

Examine cables, chains and ratchets for wear, tear and rust. Check that the ratchet snaps and locks securely. The straps can fray and the cables can rust inside their plastic covering. Replace any suspect parts and remove rust and repaint.

Check the connection points of cables or straps to ensure the attachment is secure.

Check to make sure all pins, D-rings, swivels or s-hooks are not bent or rusted and replace if in doubt.

 Portable Stands

These stands are the climbing stands that can be carried around with you and used where and when appropriate. They are usually made of metal.

loggy bayou

Start by inspecting and tightening all nuts and bolts as they can loosen over time.

Look for bends, stress cracks, wear and rust.

Closely inspect all welds. It can be hard to see hairline cracks, so inspect the paint for cracks. Always replace any parts with originals as the local hardware stuff may not have the required tensile strength etc.

If any rust is found, remove it, prime and repaint the area to prevent further deterioration.

Examine cables, chains and ratchets for wear, tear and rust. Check that the ratchet snaps and locks securely. The straps can fray and the cables can rust inside their plastic covering. Replace any suspect parts and remove rust and repaint.

Check the webbing and seat material for fraying or the stitching giving way.

Check the connection points of cables or straps to ensure the attachment is secure.

Check to make sure all pins, D-rings, swivels or s-hooks are not bent or rusted and replace if in doubt.

 Tree Stand Access

A fixed or hang-on stand requires an access system to get up and down to it. The 2 main ways are:

tree stand

  • Climbing sticks
  • Screw-in steps

A climbing stick is a pole with steps on it that is secured to the tree using straps. The straps usually have a ratchet or similar tightening device.

Check that the ratchet snaps and locks securely.

Check the webbing straps for stitching damage or fraying.

If the steps are welded onto the main pole check the integrity of the welds.

Screw-in steps.

The steps usually screw into the tree, however there are now strap-on steps where screws are not allowed.

Check the thread on the screw-in steps as they can become coated in tree sap, and over time, the usable thread becomes less and the holding ability of the thread is reduced. Keep the threads clean.

The step may fold or pivot in which case it will have a pin that requires checking.

In Summary

  • Fixed stands – anchor points, chains and hooks fail or are not hooked on correctly [consider adding a second strap or chain for safety?]
  • Ladder stands – poor anchor points to the tree, or starting to rust or rot [consider adding a second strap or chain for safety?]
  • Climbing stands – rusted cables, torn stitching, frayed straps, broken bolts or snapped bolts
    Homemade stands – check before the season to allow time for any repairs

 

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