My nephew loves asking questions. He especially loves asking advice and questions about hunting and fishing. Recently we had a conversation about climbing stands. You see, deer season is upon us, and if you bowhunt, you are using stands now, and if you gun hunt, you will be very soon. The best stand depends on how you plan on using it.
There are five basic types of hunting stands. They are the box stand, the tripod stand, the ladder stand, the climbing stand, and the lock-on stand. There are also variations of each, but we will stick with the five main types.
Both the box stand and tripod stand are free-standing types of stands. This means they can go up in the middle of a field away from trees or some other type of structure as they support themselves. They can be used in the open as mentioned, or they can be placed on the edge of a woodline for additional cover.
The box stand is essentially a small room supported off the ground by four or more legs. Basic box stands may just be a platform and a railing or four small walls. However, there are more elaborate box stands that can hold multiple people, have windows and doors, ventilation and I have even seen one with an air conditioner installed.
Box stands allow more movement inside as long as you can remain quiet, as the walls provide sight protection. They are wonderful for gun hunting and can even be used effectively with crossbows. They are also great for taking a new or young hunter as two or more people can hunt together. Because of height restrictions on many box stands, as well as difficult angles for downward shooting for deer, or bear even, that are close to the stand, bowhunting is much more difficult.
Tripod stands are similar to box stands in that they are self-supporting. A tripod is exactly what it sounds like. Three legs hold up a small platform, usually large enough for one person. There are usually rungs on one of the legs that act as a ladder for access to the top of the tripod stand. Because the tripod is less sturdy than a structure with four or more supporting legs, there is often a safety cable that comes straight down from the platform and attached to a ground embedded hook to assist with a firm sturdy support.
Tripod stands work well with gun hunting and crossbows, however depending on the size of the platform crossbows can be a challenge to cock. Tripod stands are usually built for only one person.
The ladder stand is essentially a ladder with a flat platform in which to sit. The ladder stand must be leaning against some type of structure which usually is a tree. The platform is fastened to the tree via a cable or chain that goes around the tree. Midway or lower there is an extension arm that also goes against the tree and another cable or chain is used to wrap around the tree to keep it taught.
There are ladder stands that allow for more than one hunter, but seldom more than two hunters. They can effectively be used while hunting with firearms or bows, and crossbows can be used as well if the crossbow is cocked prior to climbing the ladder stand.
Because ladder stands are attached to trees, they are popular for both woodlined fields or inside the woods near natural animal crossings and paths.
The climbing stand is one of the more difficult stands to master. It consists of two parts; a seat and a foot platform. A climbing stand requires a straight tree with no limbs up to the height desired. Climbing works by grasping the seat part while standing on the foot platform and raising it up the tree a few feet then sitting and clutching the foot platform with your feet and raising it a few feet. You continue to shimmey up the tree to the desired height. Things to be careful with a climbing stand include knowing the diameter of the tree is smaller at heights than at the base, the bark on the tree may give way causing a slide down, and always keep the foot platform attached to the sitting platform in some way so if you lose grip of the bottom it doesn’t get away from you.
Many climbing stands allow you to sit both facing the tree or away from the tree as well. Usually for gun hunters or crossbows sitting with your back to the tree is ideal. I personally like facing the tree when bowhunting as it provides cover between me and the deer in order to draw. And advantage of the climbing stand is it goes with you when you leave.
The last type is the lock-on stand. This is a single platform for one person that is strapped to a tree by cable or chain at the desired height. Usually climbing sticks are used to access the stand which is a type of ladder that is strapped up against the tree. If offers very little movement and can be attached for the season or taken with you. Both the climbing stand and lock-on stand are popular for hunters in public lands.
Choosing the right stand all depends on how you intend to hunt and where. All the types of stands require safety precautions as falling from a stand is the top danger for a hunter each year.