The 7 Best Ladder Tree Stands
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in June of 2016. If you want to observe or hunt fauna safely and comfortably, a ladder stand makes for a smart investment. They provide the ideal perch, keeping critters blissfully unaware of your presence, whether you're a hunter, birdwatcher, or nature photographer. Our selection includes models in a range of prices, and some can support two individuals. Always use a safety harness. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 09, 2021:
Removed our recommendation for a handful of models that are no longer available, but there are still many great choices. The Rivers Edge RE665 TwoPlex replaces an older model from Rivers Edge and works great. We also swapped in the mesh version of the Guide Gear 15-Foot, which is about as simple as they get. The Big Dog Stadium Series still offers the best performance, although it does require a significant investment. A good premium alternative is the Muddy MLS1300, although hunters with larger frames may not find it very comfortable.
February 13, 2020:
Removed the Ameristep Two Man Camo, the River's Edge Products Bowman, the Millennium Single, and the Muddy Huntsman because of availability issues. Added the River's Edge RE634, the Millennium L110, the Ameristep 9426, and the Muddy MLS1300.
Choosing a tree stand will mostly depend on whether you're using it for hunting or for some other purpose. For most forms of hunting, the ideal tree stand height will be between 17 and 20 feet at the base of the platform. The lower limit is to ensure that you are above the prey's sight line and the upper limit is so that you can give yourself a good shooting angle where you can reliably place an ethical shot. The Big Dog Stadium Series measures 17.5 feet, the padded seat is incredibly comfortable, and the wide, curved profile gives you a great range of motion.
Ladder tree stands should be placed well in advanced of the planned hunt - at least a few weeks before you plan on using it. This is partly because you don't want to rush installation and partly because you'll want your scent to disperse and evidence of your presence to age. Always make sure that you place your tree stand on a live and stable tree. Place the base of the stand on solid ground and never use a stand without a safety harness - ideally you should also use some sort of lifeline system. Since most people leave their stands up for months or years, it is important to conduct periodic maintenance to ensure that the stand is safe to use.
Pros And Cons Of A Ladder Tree Stand
A successful hunt relies on several factors all coming together at the right time.
As any hunter can tell you, deer are intelligent and crafty animals. A successful hunt relies on several factors all coming together at the right time. Even the smallest mistake can be enough to spook your prey and send them bounding off into the forest. Treestands are a vital tool for hunters that serve several roles in the field. First and foremost, they provide the hunter with significantly better visibility than what is possible sitting at ground level. At the same time, they keep the hunter out of a deer's line of sight. In addition, sitting high up in a tree stand helps to keep the hunter's scent above the deer's nose.
There are many different kinds of tree stands however, and each one excels in different areas. When it comes to ladder tree stands, they have some pros and cons that will dictate whether they are right for your needs, or if you would be better off with another style. As you may have guessed by the name, a ladder tree stand has a ladder incorporated into it. This makes climbing into and out of the stand easier, especially for older hunters who find scaling a tree too difficult. It also makes them more stable than a standard fixed-position tree stand, and as a result, a little less terrifying for hunters who have a fear of heights.
Generally, ladder tree stands have a larger platform than most other styles, as well. This makes them better for hunting with friends or children. It also allows them to accommodate more gear, so if you are a hunter that brings along a lot of accessories, they are usually a smart choice.
Despite their many benefits, ladder tree stands do have some drawbacks worth mentioning, one of the biggest being their weight. While it is not uncommon to find fixed-position stands that weigh as little as 15 pounds, ladder stands weigh roughly 45 pounds on average, with many models closer to the 100-pound range. The ladder sections are often large and unwieldy, too. Because of these factors, they are not suitable for hunters who trek long distances on foot to their hunting site. If you can drive your truck or ATV right up to your hunting area, though, this won't be much of a concern. Another issue with tree stands is their height limitation. The majority of models cannot be installed much more than 20 feet high. While this is enough for most prey, some hunters may prefer to be higher.
How To Pass The Time In A Tree Stand
As much as we would all like to think differently, hunting often includes endless hours of sitting in a tree waiting for something to happen. It is no wonder then, that many hunters are looking for more ways to pass the time while waiting for that perfect 12-point buck to come meandering along. While it is important to stay vigilant when in your stand, sometimes you just need to find something to do to keep from going stir crazy.
Imagine possible prey approach paths and visualize the best shot angle for each.
Sitting in a treestand is the perfect time to pull out that rangefinder and practice calculating distances. You can even use your distance measurements to create a range map of your hunting site. Pull out a sketch pad and start drawing recognizable landmarks with distance denotations between them and the stand. Not only will it make you more proficient with your gear, but it can also be useful for future hunters who use the stand.
If you don't have a rangefinder, you can spend your time studying your surroundings instead. Imagine possible prey approach paths and visualize the best shot angle for each. This can increase your chances of taking the perfect shot when a deer does finally appear.
To refresh your mind and give your eyes a break, spend some time meditating. Simply find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take deep, slow breathes to still your mind and body. Try not to think of anything and instead, just experience the moment. At the same time, listen to the sounds of the forest and monitor for anything out of the ordinary. Not only will this help pass the time and give your eyes a much needed break, but it may also actually allow you to notice a deer approaching before it ever makes itself visible, since you'll hear even the slightest snap of a twig or ruffle of leaves.
If you are looking for something a little more active to do, you can take a few minutes to reorganize your vest or pack to ensure everything is placed in an optimal position for easy retrieval. Just be aware, the noise of this could potentially scare away your prey.
Hunting To Increase The Wildlife Population
Hunting is by no means a new activity. Humans have been hunting since prehistoric times, though the act of hunting for sport rather than survival is a much more modern development. As weird as it may sound, hunting is actually better for American wildlife than it is detrimental.
What may be surprising to some is that a decline in hunting, rather than being a boon, is actually a cause of great concern for wildlife conservation in America.
Roughly 16 million people actively participate in hunting each year, with over 14 million paid license holders as of 2015. What may be surprising to some is that a decline in hunting, rather than being a boon, is actually a cause of great concern for wildlife conservation in America. Many people don't realize this, but the majority of wildlife conservation funds comes from hunters and anglers.
According to Greg Sheehand, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director, "hunters and anglers form the foundation of wildlife conservation in the United States, consistently generating more funding for habitat and wildlife management than any other source.”
The excise taxes on ammo, guns, and archery equipment alone garner significant funds annually for nature conservation. This doesn't even take into account the profits from issuing hunting and fishing licenses. All of this money is used to establish and fund fish and wildlife reservations across the U.S., ensuring the continuation of many species that might otherwise face extinction due to the increasing pace of land development.