There are a vast array tree stands and other hunting options on the market today (ground blinds, elevated box blinds, etc.). Just as varying are the heights of ladder stands and recommended tree stand height. So the question is, how high does your tree stands actually need to be?
This can be a complicated topic simply because there is no right answer for every scenario. However, there are several things to consider that will help you make the best choice for your hunting location.
First of all, the type of tree you intend to hunt out of plays a big role. If you’re in a grove of pines or cedar trees with low hanging branches, it will likely provide a fair amount of natural cover and you can get away with hanging your tree stand lower. All you have to worry about is making sure there are adequate shooting lanes where you anticipate the deer to be moving.
In a bigger hard woods with trees that might not have many low hanging branches for cover, the higher you can place your tree stand the better. Often times 20 feet is the benchmark. This will get you up high enough to be out of direct line of sight for any deer in the area and is not so high that a hunter feels uncomfortable climbing to and getting into the stand safely.
If you’re using a climber, you are limited based on the shape of the tree. Obviously you cannot climb above any branches with a climbing tree stand, but you also want to take any large knots or other abnormalities of the trunk of the tree into account. They can be obstacles as well.
Personally, the higher the better. I have been in open trees without a low level canopy to provide any sort of concealment and on any given day, a deer might bust you or they might not take notice at all. A lot of this depends on the amount of movement you’re making. That is why I prefer to be up around 25 or 30 feet if at all possible. The further I am from a deer’s line of sight, the better off I am in case I do need to move or make other adjustments. At these heights you will definitely want to consider how you’ll need to compensate for shot angle when shooting, however. A little extra practice from an elevated position will go a long way to help.
Something that I ALWAYS use to ensure my safety is a safety harness system. There are several brands that make products like these and they are all equally sufficient to keep you safe while you’re hanging the stand, climbing into and out of, as well as hunting from it. What you need to know is that a lineman’s belt that can strap to your harness and around the tree will make hanging tree stands incredibly easy and far safer for you.
Once the stand is in place make sure there is a safety strap in the tree that you can secure your harness to while you’re hunting. The final piece to this safety system is a life line. You can purchase these ropes or you can make your own lifelines. Several companies make these rope kits you can purchase that are around 30 feet in length. It is a rope system with a prussic knot that you can slide up and down the rope as you climb. The knot is designed to slide when it supports no weight but catch when weight or force is applied to it, as in the event of a fall. This way you are connected to the tree by some means at all times during your climbs, ensuring the most effective safety measures possible.
Hopefully these tips will help your tree stands be more effective and safe this fall. For more tips and helpful articles like this one, sign up to receive our newsletter. Best of luck to all you hunters. Shoot straight!