Tree Stand Hunting: Using Elevated Positions for a Better View

Hunting from a tree stand is a popular method many hunters use to increase their chances of a successful hunt. A tree stand is a hunting platform that is elevated above the ground, usually affixed to a tree trunk or secured on metal legs. The hunter sits on the platform while waiting for game to pass by, providing a better vantage point for spotting and tracking their prey. Tree stands come in many different varieties, both portable and permanent fixtures that give you some flexibility as a hunter in determining where you want to set up.

Hunting from a tree stand is different from other types of hunting such as spot-and-stalk hunting or driving game on a game drive. It can be a thrilling experience to call in a deer from far off and watch them come close to your tree stand. While you could conceivably hunt many species from a tree stand, the species that most hunters hunt in a tree stand is deer. There are many benefits to hunting from a tree stand and it can be a highly effective method of filling your freezer if you know what you are doing. Learn the pros and cons of tree stands below.


Benefits of Tree Stand Hunting

For hunters, the benefits of hunting from a tree stand far out weight the drawbacks, which is why so many hunters, especially in the Midwest and eastern United States, prefer to hunt in tree stands. In areas where the huntable land is on the smaller side, or where visibility on the ground is obscured, getting up high can be a huge advantage. Some of the benefits of tree stand hunting include:

Improve Visibility

One of the primary advantages of hunting from a tree stand is increased visibility. Being elevated above the ground provides a much broader field of view, allowing hunters to see further and spot game from a greater distance. This can be especially useful when hunting in areas with dense foliage, as it can be challenging to see through the trees and underbrush from ground level. Additionally, sitting in a tree stand allows hunters to see over low-lying obstacles like tall grass or shrubs that might obstruct their view from the ground.

improve visibility

Conceal Your Presence

Another benefit of hunting from a tree stand is reduced scent dispersal. Many big game animals have a keen sense of smell and can easily detect the scent of humans. Being elevated in a tree stand can help hunters keep their scent off the ground and away from the sensitive noses of their prey. Additionally, using scent control products like soaps and sprays can be more effective when applied while sitting in a tree stand, as the scent is less likely to disperse into the surrounding environment.

Apart from scent dispersal, you also remain out of the direct line of sight of the animals which means you are less likely to be seen as well. Of course, sitting in a stand also means that you are sitting still and not crashing through the brush spooking unseen deer, and driving them out of range.

Increase in Firearm Safety

Hunting from a tree stand can also provide a safer hunting experience. Sitting elevated in a tree stand provides a buffer between the hunter and any potentially dangerous animals that might be in the area. This can be especially important when hunting large game like bears or moose, which can be aggressive when threatened.

Additionally, being elevated above the ground reduces the risk of accidentally shooting someone else who might be walking or hunting nearby. This is because when you shoot out of a tree stand you are shooting at a downward angle, any stray shot goes directly into the ground, which is different from a missed shot on level ground which could travel a bit or have more of a chance of deflecting in unpredictable ways.


Drawbacks to Tree Stand Hunting

While the benefits of hunting in a tree stand are great, it isn’t the best tool for all hunts. Before you plan your hunt, it is important to consider if a tree stand will be an addition for you or an extra burden that could cause you to end your hunt empty-handed. Some of the drawbacks include:

Limited Movement and Locations

This is the obvious limitation when it comes to using a tree stand. They are heavy pieces of equipment to lug around, and they require time to set up in an appropriate area. The weight and time considerations limit your ability to move quickly and with flexibility if you notice that your hunting strategy needs to change. For some locations, this is ok, especially if there is a good amount of game in the area a hunter can afford to be patient and wait, but this isn’t always the case. This is why big game hunters in western states like Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana hunting elk or moose may prefer to skip the tree stand altogether, there is simply too much ground to cover to effectively use a tree stand in most cases.

Of course, the biggest limiting factor when it comes to using a tree stand is that there need to be tall trees that can support your weight. Not all areas have trees located in ideal hunting locations, this means that if you use a tree stand you could be forced to hunt in an area that isn’t holding much game.

Exposure to Elements

The weather always plays an important factor in choosing a great hunting location. However, hunting twenty feet up in a tree stand exposes you directly to the weather including wind and snow. This can make it hard to stay out for a long time in bad weather when the hunter may otherwise be sheltered enough on the ground.

elevated box stand solution

Elevated Box Stand Solution

While the tree stands offer obvious benefits, there is a solution to some of the drawbacks that still provide a hunter with a bird’s eye view without exposure to the elements or a need for a tree at all. The solution is an elevated box stand. These stands have the added benefit of being completely enclosed, which also provides more concealment, should your game look up.

While elevated box stands are sturdy and allow for more comfort while hunting, they are semi-permanent and would need to be placed in an area that is hunted frequently to get good use out of them. However, for hunting clubs or people who hunt their land, an elevated box stand is a great, warmer, and overall better option when compared with a traditional tree stand.


Tree Stand Hunting Tips

Like anything else in hunting, using a tree stand takes practice and expertise to implement effectively. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Location is everything – finding a place that is just off of a game trail or in an area with heavy animal traffic is ideal. Finding a place where the game feeds, sleep, or narrow choke points where they travel are all good areas to hunt.
  • Think about shooting lanes – this goes hand in hand with finding a good location. You want a stand that provides you with a good shooting lane to take a clean shot. It is not good enough to simply be close to the animal if you have no clear shot, find a spot that gives you options in terms of where to shoot.
  • Find a safe tree – this should go without saying, but finding a safe tree to set up in is a priority. Avoiding dead trees or trees with obvious splits is important as you are adding weight to the tree when you climb, and a sudden wind gust could tip you over.
  • Think about the sun – if you can shoot with the sun behind you, do it. This obscures you from the game that you are hunting and allows you to see clearly when you shoot.
  • Choose the right height – you want to aim to be high enough that you can get a good view, but not so high that it impedes your shooting or puts you into a thin area of the tree.
  • Travel quietly – your hunt begins before you get to your destination. Noisily climbing the tree or dragging your gear into the woods is a great way to scare out any animals in the area and reduce your odds of success.
  • Bring snacks and warm gear – hunting from the tree stand can get cold and you may be up there for a while so having easily accessible snacks and gear is important for an enjoyable hunt.


Wrapping Up

Using a tree stand is a great way to enjoy a successful hunt, climbing up into the upper section of a forest gives a different perspective on nature and the hunt itself. As with anything in hunting, there are benefits, like getting a better view and avoiding detection, and drawbacks, like noise and lack of mobility.

For those that do choose to hunt from a tree stand it is important to remember to find a good, safe location near the game, and travel as quietly as possible while setting up your spot. By following these guidelines, you are well on your way to filling your freezer with venison, moose, bear, or whatever other critters you may be hunting.

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About The Author
ed matthews Ed Matthews

Ed Matthews is a passionate hunter based in Colorado, where he hunts for elk, dove, waterfowl, and pheasant. Ed loves to write in a number of niches, from insurance to education, but his favorite topic to write about is hunting.