July 03, 2022
As a western hunter, I wasn’t used to life 20' up a tree, but I had plans. My mule deer scouting turned up a couple of solid whitetail bucks using the same dry creek system as the muleys. One of the bucks was a gagger — 160-plus — and I’d glassed him walking by the same cottonwood multiple times.
That afternoon, I drove three hours to the nearest box-chain sporting goods store and bought a dozen screw-in steps and the cheapest treestand I could find. That was my first mistake. The walk in to my cottonwood was a hair over a mile, and the stand was big and heavy. I had a heck of a time toting the stand, steps, and all my hunt gear. My second mistake was purchasing a stand without adjustments. Have you ever tried hanging a heavy, monster-sized treestand without platform and seat adjustments in a gnarled cottonwood? It’s not fun.
Long story short: I did get that stand in the tree, a mere 8' off the ground. You know how this story is going to end. The buck busted me before he was ever in bow range. I’ve done a lot of whitetail hunting all over the country since that day, and I’ve spent oodles of time in stands and blinds. What I’ve learned is there are certain stands for certain situations, and when you match your stand to your style of hunting, your success rates will go up. The same goes for ground blinds. Here are some great options for this fall.
Tree Saddle Hunting
Crafted carefully from customer feedback, Trophyline’s Covert Lite Kit ($329.99) is laced with new features that make it the perfect saddle for all mobile hunters. Whether you’re a saddle newbie or a sage veteran, the Lite bridges the gap in the market between a minimalistic lightweight profile and a saddle built with maximum comfort in mind. A taller design, the 33" adjustable rope bridge and additional adjustability within the saddle creates better lower back and bottom support.
Everything you need to hang-and-hunt with ease and stealth, Tethrd’s Phantom Starter Kit ($364.97) comes with the Phantom Saddle, Lineman Belt, Tether, and optional Platform. With this kit, you’ll have everything you need to wander public and private tracts looking for that perfect 18'-high ambush point. Once you find it, this system will have you safely and comfortably up the tree in no time. The saddle fits waist sizes ranging from 28" to 40".
Sporting an elevated shooting enclosure that’s ideal for bowhunters, Millennium’s Q-250 Solo Buck Hut ($699.99) ensures maximum comfort from the season’s first day to its last. The reinforced tripod design makes the hut super stable, and Millennium’s SteelTOUGH construction ups longevity. The rugged exterior shell is a heavy duty water-resistant fabric, and the ladder sports nonslip steps. The door doubles as a window, and black tinting combined with an all-black interior provides maximum concealment. The blind is roomy, and the 7' inside height allows for standing shots. This is the type of blind bowhunters want to put on privately owned or leased ground in a location they know they will hunt often.
The new Rhino 180 See Through Blind ($249) from Outdoor Product Innovations (OPI) gives bowhunters who like the wide-open view from a treestand a good reason to give blind hunting a try. The unique fabric of this blind allows you to see out a full 180 degrees while preventing game from being able to see in. Even when using the sewn-in loops on top and bottom to brush in this blind, you can still see out well enough to spot incoming game. There’s lots of room with a 66" ceiling and 75" of space from hub to hub — enough to accommodate three people — and silence is the word with a large, zipper-less door and Rhino’s silent-slide window technology. This blind comes in both Realtree EDGE and Mossy Oak Break-Up Country.
A versatile all-weather blind that promises concealment, stealth, and scent control, Shadow Hunter’s 6x8 Octagon ($3,499.99) sports panel construction and a ShadowTech multi-layer wall system that boosts insulation to keep you warm. The ShadowMesh floor keeps the critters out, and the blind’s design and window system work for vertical bows. Cloaked in Vengeance camo, this all-season blind will accommodate up to four hunters. Purposefully placed shelves, hooks, and a built-in weapon holder provide plenty of room for necessary gear. This is another great whitetail option for bowhunters who want to put a permanent blind in a big-buck hotspot.
A soft-sided ground fort that’s portable, the Fore Runner ($1,199) was designed by hunters for hunters to hold up to brutal late-season elements while remaining super user-friendly. An integrated hitch system allows the blind to be towed by your ATV or side-by-side. The wheels engage and disengage easily, and the aluminum frame stands up to Mother Nature’s worst moods. The blind is fitted with horizontal and vertical windows and accommodates four people.
Primos’ legendary Double Bull line is well-established in bowhunting lore, and for 2022 this ground-fort line gets a little sweeter. Dubbed the Roughneck ($299.99), this pack-and-go blind system promises uber-easy transport, as well as Double Bull’s tried-and-true hub system, which adds support, boosts longevity, and ensures easy setup and breakdown. This is a great run-and-gun deer system that works equally well for springtime turkey missions.
Raising the bar in ground-blind performance is Ameristep’s Pro Series Thermal Blind ($499.99). This five-hub fort blends flawlessly into any setting and is wrapped in warmth. The heavy duty welded fabric boosts insulation on every exposed surface to keep you comfortable and in the woods. Inside the blind is extra floor space, and all-new silent-slide windows promise stealth. Plus, with 12 windows to shoot from and extra depth, you’ll have no trouble making that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
An authentic whitetail castle, Redneck’s Buck Palace Platinum 360° 6x6 Blind ($2,599.99) promises season-after-season durability and absolute comfort. This spacious deer ambush comfortably holds three adults, or two adults and two children. The blind is fitted with 46"-tall vertical windows, and window functionality is second to none. The fiberglass body with its gel-coat finish is highly durable, and the interior features a closed-cell foam insulated ceiling, acoustical foam-covered walls, and a high-density foam pad set underneath the marine-carpeted floor. The blind can be mounted to Redneck’s steel stands, trailer stand, or blind sled.
Hunters who put a premium on in-the-blind maneuverability and concealment should give Browning’s new Envy Blind ($349.99) a go. The blind stands 6' 10" at its center and provides 74" of shooting width. This means compound shooters can stand and shoot, and those with longer, traditional-style bows can shoot from a seated position without fretting over limb clearance. Silent-Trac windows grace the blind, and the QuickConnect door system uses magnets along the door seams to ensure a hushed entry and exit. Quality hooks prevent the door from opening or creating game-spooking noise, even during periods of high wind.
When you’re waiting out a spring gobbler or a rutting whitetail, comfort is critical, and the all-new ALPS Triad 360-Degree Swivel Stool ($149.99) delivers it in spades. An 8 lb., 10 oz. stool that will hold 300 lbs., this ground blind must-have has a range of motion of 360 degrees. Hushed and easy to set up, the Triad is built on a powder-coated steel frame and its legs adjust independently for height to provide a level seat on uneven terrain.
Sometimes, when you find that big-buck spot, there isn’t a suitable tree nearby. Time is of the essence, so you need to go the pop-up blind way. While waiting Mr. Big out, comfort and stealth are ultra-important. Enter the G-400-00 Ground Blind Chair — 4 Leg ($NA) from Millennium. The ComfortMax contoured seat is La-Z-Boy-like, and each leg is adjustable for keeping you level on uneven terrain. The seat is quiet and rotates 360 degrees.
For many whitetail fanatics, diving in deep on tracts of public dirt is very appealing, and this crowd demands a particular set of gear. Enter Hawk’s all-new Rival Micro ($249.99). Based on a minimalized 20.5" x 17.5" platform complete with a flip-up seat, this 10.1-lb. stand is a breeze to tote and set up. This aluminum lock-on showcases four platform height levels, so it’s capable of being hung in even the gnarliest of trees. Plus, the stand comes complete with a full-body safety harness and a pair of ratchet tree straps.
An innovative new climber from Summit, the Viper Level Pro SD ($529.99) comes in at 26 lbs. and is branded with a weight rating of 300 lbs. The big story with this stand is its patent-pending EasyLevel dials. While the top and bottom parts of the climber are attached to the tree, these dials allow you to make finite adjustments to ensure perfect leveling — a feature worth its weight in gold. The FastTrack and redesigned Quick Draw Pro Cable system makes going up and down fast and efficient. Other notables include SummitLokt, RapidClimb, DeadMetal technologies, and a wraparound arm pad.
It’s hard to improve on treestand perfection, and for this reason Muddy has decided to fly its Boss XL ($199.99) stand once again in 2022. A 20-lb. lock-on, the Boss XL is fitted with a 3" Tri-Plex foam seat that provides comfort and stands up to the elements. The Boss XL was designed to pack together with several Muddy Climbing Systems, and it comes with a full-body safety harness.
Lone Wolf doesn’t do anything halfway, and it has built a monstrous following of whitetail fanatics. For 2022, this stand-builder ups the bar with its D’Acquisto Series 2.0 Hang-on ($599.99). With a fighting weight of just 10.5 lbs., this hang-on is crafted from 6061 American Made Metal and is fitted with grip points for easy hanging. Lone Wolf’s patented Frame Lock system lets you tote additional gear, and the center support utility system adds stability. The stand comes with backpack straps, and I recommend pairing it with the company’s D’Acquisto Compact Climbing Sticks ($97.99).
Bowhunters love options, and that translates to multiple treestand sites placed with a mind toward changing wind direction and deer travel patterns. That makes an economical hang-on stand like the Rhino RTH-100 ($124.99) an excellent choice. This stand features a Comfort Mesh Flip-Up Seat, and both the seat and the platform can be leveled when hanging the RTH-100 in those pesky leaning trees. A two-strap attachment system creates excellent platform stability.
Giving you the ability to prep a tree and trim shooting lanes in minutes is Hooyman’s Lithium-Ion Pole Saw ($293.99). Weighing under 10 lbs., the saw is fitted with a 10' extendable handle, and the 40V lithium-ion battery charges in just 60 minutes and provides fade-free power for a long time. The battery easily snaps in and out of the saw and is fitted with a charge indicator for power-level checks. This whitetail must-have boasts an aluminum-handle construction and a built-in oil reservoir.
A tried-and-true favorite of treestand-goers, Hunter Safety System’s ProSeries ($159.99) has been reintroduced with some solid new features. Treated with ElimiShield Scent Control Technology, this safety vest works to kill human odor before it forms, and HSS says the technology will work for the life of the harness. Forty percent lighter than the original, thanks to new lightweight fabrics and ventilating mesh, the ProSeries also features a built-in USB port. Those who cheered the bino straps and eight pockets can rest easy, as these features remain on the new design.