August 31, 2017
My personal treestand strategy these days is much different than when I was a young bowhunter with far more gumption than brains. Now I employ a far more efficient system from Tree Stand Buddy that utilizes a single stand and multiple mounting brackets that I can pre-hang so I have lots of options. It's safer, quieter, theft resistant and one of the best treestand strategies I've found for targeting mature bucks. But I didn't always hunt this way.
During those early years, I owned a single treestand, which I paired with a handful of screw-in steps. Almost daily throughout the season I set up my stand and took it down, which was a lot of work and dangerous given our safety gear of the time. Eventually I bought several hang-on stands and even a few ladder stands. But after a while I realized something about having an arsenal of treestands — I felt like I needed to have them all in trees before the season opened. So, I hung them.
A lot of them were only good for a certain part of the season, which meant they were no good for the majority of the time I could sit them. Others just weren't producers, which meant they either didn't get used very often, or ended up getting pulled and moved. Over the years I've refined my strategy quite a bit and honestly, it involves fewer stands and identifying more spots.
There are plenty of considerations to make when hunting deer from treestands. Stand choice is the obvious one. This involves personal preference for styles and an eye toward the pocketbook, because treestands aren't cheap. Bowhunters also need to consider how mobile they plan to be, how safe they need to be, and how many spots they need to cover with aerial perches.
Finding The Right Treestand Spot
A lot of us scout almost solely via trail cameras these days. There is no doubt that 24/7 digital scouters can serve a valuable purpose in the woods, but you need to get out there and look around as well. If you haven't spent the time scouting in the late-winter or early-spring like you should, you can still scout the immediate pre-season and throughout the season.
You'll just need to be cognizant of making the most of your intrusive time in the woods, or plan on hunting the minute your scouting yields a series of fresh rubs or other encouraging sign. You may also want to consider flagging a few trees to come back to during the season. This strategy is a great idea if you're running limited stands and want to sit an oak ridge in early October but then move to a killer pinch-point on Halloween.
If you spend enough time in the woods scouting, you'll eventually find plenty of spots worth sitting. This can be a problem, but it's a good problem to have. You just need to manage things correctly, especially if you don't have dozens of treestands and climbing sticks laying in your garage. Or if you hunt public land where you can't leave stands up overnight, or you can only leave them up for a specific amount of time.
I wish I didn't have to write this, but you might also need to consider theft. I've had several treestands stolen on private land over the years, and a few that have gone missing on public properties. It's an unfortunate fact of life as a bowhunter, and the only thing we can hope is that the wind is always wrong for those unscrupulous hunters and that they never, ever fill a tag as long as they live.
The Treestand Answer
Since I'm concerned about theft, hunt public land a lot, and tend to conduct in-season scouting missions with an eye toward setting up immediately, I've messed around with plenty of treestand options out there. I've done the climbing stand thing, but found myself hunting suitable trees more than the deer.
I've carried heavyweight stands and sticks in, but that's not much fun and is very difficult to keep quiet. Eventually I settled on small, lightweight stands and sticks that are expensive and uncomfortable. But they are portable and easier to set up than the less-portable, heavier options that might provide a bit more comfort.
This has been my public-land system for quite a few years now, and it has also started to become my go-to tactic for private land, too. But even now, I'm migrating to a different system that is safer, easier, and generally, much quieter.
A New Way To Hang
The Tree Stand Buddy is essentially a bracket system that secures to your hang-on treestand (single or double post). It works off of a receiver that attaches to the tree via two heavy-duty ratchet straps. The receiver is fitted with a hoist that allows you to haul the stand up from the ground instead of strapping it to your back, or carrying a tow rope up and then hauling the stand up once you're 17 feet in the air.
What this means is that you have more control over the process, which is what I want when I'm showing up to hunt and need to be quiet. It also means that you can buy one expensive, comfortable treestand and then pair it with as many Tree Stand Buddys as you want. This cuts down drastically on the amount of money it takes to pepper the woods with killer setups. It also means that you won't have to worry about someone walking away with your $200 stand, because it won't be there when you aren't.
There is also a continuity to the setup if you have one of those trees you periodically sit but don't want to leave a stand in. What this means is that if you leave a Tree Stand Buddy in your tree, you'll be able to re-hang the stand exactly how you want it, which is important.
You might also have one hotspot that is always worth hunting, but the wind doesn't cooperate every day with your chosen tree. Maybe you plan on a west wind for most of your fall hunts but also know the spot will be active during a north or south wind. Simply hang an extra Tree Stand Buddy bracket for the backup wind, and you'll be good to go if Mother Nature decides to blow the wrong way while you're sneaking into your spot.
If you're cash-strapped, or simply can't hang multiple stands before each season, consider picking up a few Tree Stand Buddys and building them into your mobile deer-hunting system. You'll save money while not only being safer and quieter in the woods, but you'll also hunt more effectively, which is what every bowhunter wants.