Is There an Ideal Tree Stand Height?
Dr. John Woods 12.09.15
It seems like deer hunters are climbing to new heights. Maybe this is the reason I left behind climbing and lock-on stands years ago to the youngster hunters. An old man has no business going up 20 feet into a hunting stand that is clinging to a tree by a nylon strap.
My last trek up a strapped on ladder to get into a tiny seated lock-on stand was at an outfitted hunt near the Mississippi River. Once I finally managed to get onto that 12-inch by 12-inch hard butt steel seat, get my safety harness adjusted, and pulled up my bow, I got a nose bleed. I was hanging way the heck up there and behind me could see a small lake covered in ducks.
I knew I was in trouble when the ducks flew off the lake and went right by me at eye level. I was darn sure I saw one mallard wink at me as he winged by. I never saw one deer. When I finally got back on terra firma and picked up by the guide, I asked just how high up that stand was. I was told 30-feet, but it was more like 40. Heck that is further than I shot a bow on flat ground. That stand was way too high up for any practical hunting.
All this got me to thinking about ideal tree stand or ladder stand heights. I first researched the factory made ladder stands just to see how high they were. I found that most averaged fixed seat heights between 16 and 20 feet high with standard deviations of a foot or two. The most recent Millennium ladder stand I bought is just at the 20-foot height, and I call that ideal for me.
The idea behind an “ideal’ tree stand height is to position the hunter over and above the immediate selected hunting area to maximize observational viewing. In a thick woods this might be 8 or 10 feet to see under tree cover. On the edge of a food plot it might be twice that height. In many ways higher is better so you can hide some of your movements and scent.
So, as you select a proper tree stand height, make sure you can clearly see the terrain under and around you for clear shots. Always use a safety harness, too.