There are a couple of reasons why I didn't jump on the ladder-stand bandwagon years ago. The first is that I'm a simple hunter at heart and I am fairly reliant on lightweight hang-ons and climbers for my style of hunting. The second is that my first experiences with ladder stands didn't win me over.
Ladder stands, in general, are heavy, clunky, and not all that easy to set up. Sure, they are super comfortable and safe once you do get them fully strapped onto the tree, but the work beforehand isn't much fun. And climbing into a shaky ladder stand that is loosely connected to a tree to finish the job of getting it safely attached ranks right up there with volunteering for a root canal.
To make matters worse, I have a healthy fear of heights. I get over it each year because I love deer hunting so much, but there are certain things that I won't, or at the very least, hate doing. Climbing onto a ladder stand to finish the setup process is way up on that list.
All of that said, though, I am slowly migrating my stand setups to include ladder stands because they offer some benefits for certain types of bowhunting situations that other types of stands can't. Here are four reasons why my thinking has changed.
1. Perfect For Small Properties
Mobility just might be the most underrated aspect of being a successful bowhunter. Taking the hunt to the deer, instead of waiting for action, which may or may not happen, is important. It's not, however, possible in every situation.
Take the small-property bowhunter. If you're working with 10 or 20 acres, you're not likely to be overloaded with fresh spots to hunt. One good quality stand might cover you on a property like that, and if that's the case, you might as well put up a comfortable, safe ladder stand.
2. Great For High-traffic Areas
This also goes for those spots that simply produce all season long. I've found these areas in transition routes and funnels, and I tend to hang stands in them every summer because I know I'll sit there every month of the season.
Again, instead of setting up a small hang-on, I'll carry in a ladder stand so that I can fully enjoy my time watching over those high-traffic spots.
3. Ideal For Kill Plots
This is also my strategy when it comes to hunting small food plots. For me, kill plots always go in places where I expect deer to travel already, so the added groceries just increase the appeal of a quality spot. Kill plots are no-brainer setups for a quality ladder stand, especially if you plant a mix of goodies that will appeal to deer well into the cold, late-season months.
4. Super Safe
Safety is a number-one concern of mine when it comes to treestands. I've had my share of close calls, including one incident that resulted in a busted rib after one of my screw-in steps broke loose on me. More recently, I had a section of climbing sticks give up their grip and send me on an unwanted bungee jump via my safety harness and lifeline.
A ladder stand greatly reduces the risks of falling, but it doesn't totally remove the chance that gravity can take over. This, as I've mentioned, becomes most concerning during that part of the setup when you've got a partially tethered stand that you need to now climb to finish affixing.
This problem is something we've simply accepted with ladder stands, but we don't have to. X-Stand Treestands offers a variety of ladder stands that feature something truly innovative — The Jaw Safety System. This patent-pending technology consists of two steel jaws that clamp around the tree to secure the stand before you leave the ground. The ingenious design connects a pair of cables to the jaws allowing you to tighten them up while you're safely situated on terra firma.
After tightening up the jaws and securing the cables as well as the supports that connect the ladder to the lower part of the trees trunk, these stands are solid — really solid. This means that by the time you have to climb the ladder, you won't have to worry about it getting suddenly tipsy while you're 14 feet off of the ground.
When I first set up one of their stands, I didn't realize how much I'd like this feature until I used it. Now I don't want to use anything else. But the overall design of their stands is really what won me over.
For example, X-Stand ladder stands use Silent Snap Pins, which lock the ladder sections together and, unlike their predecessors, are silent — truly silent. So when you climb the ladder, you don't hear the settling noises and the clinks provided by ladder stands of the past.
Details matter to bowhunters, and that's a prime example of a company that has sussed out the most important, minute details and made them better (and safer) for all hunters.
While ladder stands are firmly entrenched in the gun hunter's world, they are slowly starting to gain traction with bowhunters. The comfort offered, as well as the overall safety of a good ladder stand, like those offered by X-Stand, cannot be ignored by any bowhunter looking to wring the most out of his time spent in the woods overlooking a high-activity deer hotspot.