Choosing A Treestand

Life is full of choices. Paper or plastic. Ford or Chevy. Coke or Pepsi. Tree stand bowhunters at some point have to decide whether to hunt from a climbing stand or a fixed-position stand. And for purposes of this discussion, fixed-position includes hang-on and ladder stands. Basically we’re talking about stands that you hang ahead of time and leave in place. What’s the best choice? Which one is right for me in the situation I’m facing? The truth of the matter is, it’s not fair to say climbers are better than fixed-positions, or vice versa. Today, manufacturers make high-quality stands of both types. And, most bowhunters I know use both kinds of stands at different times. But there are factors we all should consider when figuring out where and when to use each. 


A climbing stand allows hunters to be mobile, and to hunt anywhere they choose to go.

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE LAND?The type of land you hunt could dictate which type of stand you use. For starters, it might be illegal to hang and leave stands on some public lands. So unless you want to haul a hang-on stand and a set of climbing sticks, or a full ladder stand, in and out of the woods each time you hunt, a climber could be the only practical choice. But let’s say either type is legal. Now you have to think about stand security. On public land, you know there could be lots of people walking past your stand site. If you haul a climber in and out of the woods on your back, there’s nothing for anyone to steal. Leave a hang-on or ladder, however, and it might not be there when you return.  You can lock your stand to the tree, and/or you can remove lower ladder sections to impede access. I believe if you make it difficult for someone to steal a stand, they’re not going to mess with it. But the truth is if someone is determined enough, no stand is 100-percent secure.  Quite frankly, just because you’re on private property doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect people with sticky fingers to walk by. Trust me on this one. I once had a ladder stand stolen from a patrolled piece of private land where I have permission to hunt. I’ve heard it said that “POSTED” signs are like beacons to trespassers, because they know there won’t be many people around and the hunting is probably good.


Placing a stand in a good spot months before the season opens negates the need to have to carry a climber each time you hunt that spot.

The bottom line is, if you think a fixed-position stand might get stolen, then use a climber. But if you feel comfortable leaving a stand in the woods, then by all means plant a hang-on or ladder. It’s nice to lose the weight and bulk of a climber on your back each time you enter and leave the woods.

HOW FAR IN?The distance you have to “hoof it” to a stand site is something to consider when choosing between a climber and a fixed-position stand. Carrying a hang-on or ladder one time to a hunting spot far away from the truck and leaving it is a lot easier on the back than lugging a climber in and out on every hunt. On the other hand, if you don’t have to go too far, then a climber might be the right choice.

climb3It’s a snap to slip quietly into a pre-hung, fixed-position stand.

ANYONE ELSE IN THE WOODS?Besides the potential for theft, knowing whether or not other hunters will be in your hunting area is a factor to consider. A hang-on can be a good or bad thing for you in a crowded section of woods. I know when I see a hanging stand, I keep moving in search of a place no one else hunts. So when you’re dealing with hunters like me, planting and leaving a stand is a good thing because it serves as a reservation, so to speak. It keeps hunters like me away from your spot. On the other hand, there are hunters who see a fixed-position stand and think, “Oooh, this must be a good spot. I’m gonna hunt here.” In that case, your stand serves as a sort if invitation to others. I’ve had other hunters squeeze in on me many times – especially after they discovered I shot a nice buck from a certain stand. In that case, using a climber helps keep your exact hunting locations secret.

CLIMB4The goal of every tree stand hunter is to get on top of unwary deer.

TREE TYPESI’m fortunate to live in a place where tulip poplars are in nearly every speck of woods. These tall, telephone-pole trees are ideal for climbing stands. I use mine liberally when I’m hunting those woods. But not every place in the country is littered with tall, straight trees. And even if you’re hunting a section of woods with nice climbing trees, there might not be any growing in the exact spot where you want to hunt. In such places, a hang-on might be required.

RUN AND GUNAs bowhunters, most of us have all been there. And if you haven’t yet, you will. You set up in a spot and quickly notice all the deer activity is some distance away that’s out of bow range. If you’ve got a climber, relocating is a snap. But if you’ve got a hang-on or ladder, moving is more complicated   at best   and maybe even impossible. So if you want to stay mobile when you’re on the hunt, a climber is probably best.


Climbing stands are ideal in places where you have tall, straight, limbless trees.

RUN SILENT, RUN FASTGetting into a stand quickly and quietly is important to any bowhunter who doesn’t want to spook deer that might be hanging out nearby. Well, in that case, you can’t beat having a stand already in place. Slip in to your spot, climb your pre-hung stick or ladder and you’re ready to hunt. With a climber, you’ve got to take it off your back, attach it to the tree and then climb. That takes far more time and creates much more noise.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?There are probably as many reasons for using a climbing tree stand or a fixed-position stand as there are bowhunters. Which do you use, and why? Let us know by commenting below.


  1. Jeremy Yancey says:

    I live in central Virginia and the poplars, loblolly pines, and white oaks are everywhere. Tall, straight, and limbless trees abound! When you have a Lone Wolf their is no concern about having too much on your back or even noise for that matter. I do mostly hunt public land so the climber has always been the obvious choice for me.

  2. keith patterson says:

    I hunt all public land so its hard for me to spend the money on a hang on stand that may get stolen when I am not around… I have already lost 2 trail cameras in this manner!
    So I keep using a climber while recently purchasing a blind. This way I can set up in a spot that I find to be decent without the worry of having my stand taken.

  3. Todd Browning says:

    I hunt public land and there is no way I could or would leave a stand up. I use a summit and I carry it in and out with me. If I am returning the next day I may carefully hide it close to where I am going to hunt. I left it once and the next day I could not find it. I finally did find it however. A bear had smelled it and drug it down the hill 20 yards and ate the seat out of it. Naturally you can imagine what my wife said lol. The summit I now use goes back and forth with me now.

  4. Drew Tush says:

    In central Pa where I hunt its private ground we have had a ladder stand hanging up for now about over a year and have began to notice that there are far more deer walking past our stands, personally I like having this type of stand so that way deer have a chance to get used to this type of stand.

  5. Size of land is a huge factor. Because I hunt small land (30acres) and I noticed a climber makes too much noise setting up. When really limiting noise is crucial, slipping up a ladder stand is much easier, quicker, and quieter.

  6. I'm a big fan of the Lone-Wolf Assault for mobility and keeping my spots secret. I haven't had any issue w/ noise as I have arrowed several deer within literally a minute of climbing my tree (and 1 bear immediately after climbing down in the morning). I can't speak to the noise level of other climbers but I'd file it under "you get what you pay for".

  7. I hunt public and private land in Indiana, Kentucky and Texas. I prefer pre-hung stands for all of the reasons stated. On private land I exclusively use my X-Stand climber. I will also use it on private land if winds don't favor my fixed stands.

  8. I use fixed stands on my 50acres and climbers everywhere else. When I hunt in the afternoon and plan on being back in the AM I will leave the climber on the tree otherwise I take it with me.

  9. I hunt in an Urban Hunting Unit and on public land here in Central Ohio and my Viper climber is all i use. The thing is for me, I view it as a tool that not only can help me for various winds and quick relocations, but also (Over time using it) i can get up and down a tree in about the same time as it would take me to get up and down sticks or ladders. If you get the right one, Climber's can be more comfortable for longer sits. I have fallen asleep a time or two in mine.The other thing is, it may be a little more cumbersome to haul in and out, but with the right backpack straps and other items that you can use to trick out your stand, you can make it more to your liking. My vote is all about the Climber.

  10. I hunt in southern Ill.on public land for 12 years and have used hang on stands that remove easily for in and out travel.the trees there as crooked as a dogs hind leg and climbers force me to pick a tree that works not the tree I want. I like the muddy stands and I use the rope on steps ,fast and easy,light

  11. I hunt in Minnesota and I hunt on private and public land so we only put up stands were we know theres deer plus some times we screw them to the trees, like for our rifle stands and most of the time we arn't to worried about that.


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