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Buy This, Learn That: A First-Timer’s Guide to Treestand Hunting

Buy This, Learn That: A First-Timer’s Guide to Treestand Hunting
Treestand hunting is more complex than simply purchasing a stand and locating a sturdy tree. Treestand hunting accounts for the largest number of injuries in Ohio every hunting season, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University and Grant medical centers. Though data isn’t available for the rest of the nation, there’s no reason to believe it would be dramatically different. Take precautions and be prepared before embarking on your annual hunting trip.

Before the beginning of the hunting season, take a hunters safety course for the state you wish to hunt in. You can learn season dates, number of doe licences available, special quota hunts, what is considered legal size game and current laws and regulations.

To use Illinois as an example, if you were born after Jan 1, 1980, you will need proof of completion of this course in order to purchase a hunting license. Each state offers a course like the Illinois hunter safety course, which can be taken online in a couple hours. Courses like these provide valuable information that will make your hunting safer for everyone and productive as well.

Types of Treestands

There are two types of treestands, climbing and ladder.

The thing that differentiates ladder stands from one another is the perch. Ladder treestands have seats to accommodate up to three hunters. They are even available with enclosures to keep out the elements. Many have a safety bar that folds down in front for safety and doubles as a shooting rest. They are simple to climb and provide a stable platform. However, they are heavy and not easily portable. It requires a truck or ATV to deliver it to your spot and two or more people to install it.

The climbing treestand is light and portable, enabling you to relocate as the needed. Climbing treestands have just two parts, the top seat and the floor. They use a V-shaped knife-edge bar that attaches to the treestand and digs into the opposite side of the tree.

Regardless of the type, always purchase a safety harness and an orange safety vest. Deer are colorblind and can’t distinguish color, but even the most oblivious of hunters will see it from a distance and won’t compromise your stand.


Scout for your spot a week or so before the season. Look for activity such as deer rubs, trails, droppings and food sources, including water. Your best location will cover a heavily traveled route between the food source and heavy cover. In the morning they will move from the food source to the heavy cover when they’re being pushed.

Always place the treestand within easy shooting distance with as few obstructions as possible, yet downwind of the trail. If you’re using a climbing treestand, remove any branches that will interfere with your climb. Leave as much cover on the sides of the treestand as possible for concealment and use boundary tape to mark your treestand position so you can find it in the early morning darkness.

Treestand Hunting Tricks

  • Always plan on being in your treestand an hour before daylight.
  • Place fox scent on the soles of your shoes to conceal your scent as you approach your treestand.
  • Stop within 30 feet of your treestand and while maintaining this distance, walk around the stand in a circle. While doing so, place a few drops of deer musk low on plants every few feet. This will result in the deer hesitating to smell the musk while keeping his head low allowing for your movement without being seen.
  • Unload your gun and open the breech. Attach a rope to it to hoist it up. Never attempt to carry it up.
  • Attach your safety harness.
  • Rub some apple on the tree or stand which will conceal your scent.

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