Tree stands were used to take 80% of all the whitetail deer entered into the Pope and Young record book, and were taken within 10-19 yards.
So clearly, they are a popular and very successful way to hunt trophy bucks, or any type of deer!
So what are the advantages of using stands?
The benefits from being elevated include:
- Increased height gives better visibility over a bigger area compared to being on the ground
- The hunter is able to be more concealed from the deer’s field of view
- Raising the hunter’s scent above the ground to minimize being scented by the deer
- Not moving around and making a noise especially on noisy leaves or crunchy snow
- Prevent getting spotted first by the deer
- The option of some protection from rain, wind and/or the cold
- It can range from a canopy over your head, to a blind with a heater
- Having the ability to see or hear the deer moving first
- The ability to shoot over limbs and brush
- When the weather is hot, a canopy can provide shade so you can stay cool while you are waiting
- Suited to unfit hunters or disabled hunters
- Popular for bow hunters who need to be closer to their target
With all these benefits, it may sound like you can’t go wrong just hanging your stand and waiting for the deer to come along!
There are a lot of skills in selecting the right stand, and then hanging it in the right place at the right time.
Choosing which type of stand is the right one or most effective one for you depends on:
- The environment you are going to hunt
- Your ability to climb
- The height you are comfortable at versus the height needed for the environment
- Your level of fitness
- The type of weapon you are using
There are 4 main types of stands:
Makes of Stand
There are many makes and models, but we have included some information on some of the more popular brands:
Buy or Build
Some hunters want to consider building rather than buying a stand – usually because of cost. They want to build a stand for less than what it costs to buy one.
It is worth reviewing our section on buy versus build before you decide to get some stand plans!
If you choose to buy your tree stand, read our buyer’s guide.
Tree Stand Plans
If you are looking for plans to build your own stand, there are some questions you should ask yourself first before looking for hunting stand plans.
The answers to these questions will help you decide which type of stand, construction type, materials and design will be suitable.
If you are unsure which type of stand is most suitable for the environment, first review the different types of stands.
If you are thinking about a complete enclosure on the ground, it is more correctly called a blind. Or you may want a box type of enclosure based upon a tower elevated off the ground [box tower blind].
If a box blind or tower blind is your preference, you will find lots of information and hunting blind plans at the Hunting Blind Plans website.
Free Tree Stand Plans
If you are looking for some free plans or designs to build your own tree stand we have linked to some here.
Tree Stand Safety
It is impossible to know exactly how many hunters are injured every year from accidents because:
- Not all accidents are reported
- Not everyone who falls seeks medical attention
- Not all accidents are recorded as a category by themselves in hospitals
- Recording varies from State to State
- There is no national collection of data
A 1993 survey conducted by Deer and Deer Hunting magazine found that more than a third [37%] of hunters will at some time fall from a stand, and that about 3% will suffer crippling injuries.
Of all the stand accidents, 75-80% occurs while climbing up or down.
Most hunters injured were not wearing a safety harness/vest.
Some reports have indicated that as many as 500 hunters are killed every year across North America due to accidents involving stands. There are another 5,000 to 7,000 permanently disabled and a further 10,000 to 15,000 hunters sustain less serious injuries.
In 2005/2006 in the Georgia hunting season, 54% of all hunting accidents were stand accidents  with 2 fatalities. Both fatalities saw the victim falling from the stand. One hunter fell asleep in his stand and then fell 17 feet breaking his neck. The other fatality involved a hunter who was descending his stand, lost his grip, fell and died of internal injuries.
The severity of injuries tends to increase with the distance the victim falls, however even short falls can cause spinal injuries and paralysis or death.
The main contributors were:
- Improper stand installation and
- Improper use
The majority of falls were due to:
- Structural failure of stands and steps, especially those that are homebuilt and wooden
So how can we avoid injury or death when we are stand hunting?
See our section on: safety as well as accidents in treestands.
Pick the Right Stand
Read our section on the different types of stands, and which ones are suitable for you and your particular hunting environment – so you can choose the correct type of stand.
If you can afford it, buy a new stand that is approved by the Treestand Manufacturers Association [TMA]. The TMA have produced a very helpful set of safety guidelines.
The TMA is a standards-based organisation that employs 2 independent companies for testing tree stands and equipment. Nearly 30 manufacturers belong to the TMA.
The TMA specifically devotes its resources to tree stand safety. It endeavors to improve tree stand safety by education in the proper use of tree stands, the development of tree stand manufacturing standards, product testing, manufacturing quality control and the promotion of mandatory use of Fall Arrest Systems/Full Body Harness devices.
When tree stands are tested to be certified by the TMA, they are load-tested at twice the rated capacity of the product.
If you are buying a second hand stand, get it checked for bends, cracks, missing nuts or bolts and any signs of damage.
If you already own a tree stand or have purchased a second hand one, our section on TreeStand Maintenance will be of interest.
Pick the Right Equipment
When using your tree stand, your fall restraint system is your single most important piece of equipment. A full body harness is strongly recommended. A rope or belt around the waist can be almost as dangerous as falling to the ground. A belt around the waist can cause a hunter to turn upside down should they fall, and the tightening of the belt around their waist can cause internal injuries.
Carry a whistle [in your pocket or around your neck so you can use it if you find yourself hanging from a tree by your harness], cellular phone, flashlight and first aid kit with you as listed in our 20-point safety checklist.
Pick the Right Tree
Choosing the correct tree is vital for your safety as well as effectiveness of your hunt. The tree should be strong, healthy with no dead limbs, and sturdy enough to support you in your tree stand. See our 20-point tree stand safety checklist that covers the points to look for in selecting the correct tree and hanging your stand correctly.
Additionally you should always follow general hunting safety practices to minimize your risks further.
Most hunters will spend many hours if not whole days at a time sitting in their stand.
If your seat is small and hard, and you have to hold your rifle, muzzleloader or bow, binoculars, rattling antlers, rangefinder, food and drink etc, your hunting is going to be uncomfortable and tiring.
There are many accessories to make your hunting safer, quieter, more comfortable and easier.
The popular ones include:
If you are buying a tree stand – especially a climbing stand or fixed stand, it is worthwhile trying the stand first before you buy.
The key to sitting motionless for hours is comfort.
Check the seat and backrest for padding and comfort.
The stand should also be checked for ease of climbing and stability while changing from climbing to turning to sitting.