Hunting from an elevated stand can significantly increase your chances of harvesting that trophy buck. As an avid bowhunter myself, I’ve spent countless hours perched high above the ground, waiting patiently for the perfect shot. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about successful treestand hunting.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my hard-earned expertise to help you make the most of hunting from elevated stands with your bow. From essential safety considerations to mastering the perfect shot, I’ve got you covered with actionable tips and advice. Prepare yourself for some hilarious stories of my early hunting mishaps before I became an expert marksman! With some dedication and practice, you too can gain the skills and confidence needed to have an ethical, successful hunt.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty details, here are the key things to keep in mind:
- Safety first! Use a safety harness, inspect equipment, and practice proper climbing techniques.
- Choose stand locations wisely based on game trails, food sources, bedding areas and other signs. Watch the wind carefully.
- Set up shooting lanes and clear obstacles for ethical shots. Practice repeatedly from your stand.
- Scent control and concealment are critical. Minimize movement and dress in camo.
- Master shooting angles and distances. Aim small, miss small.
- Stay alert and be patient. Hunt the wind and move only when needed.
- Follow game laws and hunt ethically for a clean, lethal harvest.
Okay, now let’s cover all of these key factors and more in depth! I promise there will be some hilarious stories of my early hunting fails along the way.
Hunting from an elevated perch introduces some inherent risks. Safety needs to be your top priority to avoid accidents. Here are some tips:
- Always use a full body safety harness securely attached to the tree before stepping onto the stand platform. I learned this the hard way after nearly plummeting 20 feet when I dozed off during a slow morning hunt! Thankfully I was using a harness.
- Inspect your treestand thoroughly before each use looking for cracks, loose bolts, or other signs of wear. Don’t risk your safety on old or damaged equipment.
- Use a haul line to raise and lower your gear and keep your hands free for climbing. Trying to balance gear while climbing is asking for trouble.
- Take your time and make slow, deliberate movements when climbing up and down. I once slipped and smashed my hand between the stand and tree – ouch! Rushing causes accidents.
- Consider using a ladder stand to minimize the risk of falls. They take a bit more effort to set up properly but are easier to get in and out of safely.
- Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Store all gear securely in your haul line until you’re settled in your stand.
- Practice proper climbing techniques before the season starts. Good form and treestand climbing experience helps prevent slips or errors.
While elevated stand hunting doesn’t require much specialized gear, having the right equipment can make your hunt more effective and enjoyable. Here’s what you need:
- Safety harness – As mentioned before, this is mandatory equipment for treestand hunting. Don’t leave home without it.
- Tree stand – Hang-on stands, ladder stands, and lock-on stands each have pros and cons. Choose one tailored to your hunting style and area.
- Haul line – A rope to raise and lower your gear makes climbing much safer and easier.
- Bow hanger – Keeps your bow securely in place at the ready when not in use. Vital for limited movement hunting.
- Cushion – Your backside will thank you after several hours sitting on a padded cushion!
- Screw-in steps – Safer climbing plus a place to rest your feet while waiting.
- Rangefinder – Know exact distances to target areas to ensure ethical shots. More on this later.
- Wind checker – Stay aware of wind direction to keep your scent cone away from game.
That covers the hunting gear basics. Don’t forget your normal archery equipment – well-maintained bow, arrows, quiver, release and broadheads. I always bring an Allen wrench tool in my pack just in case adjustments are needed in the field.
Now let’s move on to choosing and setting up your elevated stand.
Selecting the optimal stand location is the first step to hunting success. Here are some tips:
- Scout thoroughly – Spend time before season glassing and scouting to identify game sign and patterns. I’ll expand more on scouting shortly.
- Check wind and thermals – Consider prevailing wind direction and thermal patterns when choosing stand placement. Watch the wind!
- Pick funnel zones – Place stands near pinch points, saddles, green fields, and other funnels deer use to maximize chances.
- Consider multiple access points – Having a few entry and exit routes helps minimize scent and sound.
- Choose durable trees – Pick straight, healthy trees with few branches for easier, safer climbing and stand placement.
- Have minimal silhouettes – Avoid trees with clusters of branches that obstruct your profile and view.
For stand types, hang-on stands allow flexibility in moving locations year-to-year while lock-ons are quicker to set up each time. Ladder stands offer easier access but are more permanent.
No matter the style, your stand should allow you to sit still and draw your bow without issue. Test it out before season! Now let’s look at how to set up your chosen stand.
Proper stand placement and setup is critical for success and safety. Follow these tips when setting up your stand:
- Place 20-25 feet up – This provides good visibility while keeping you concealed. Adjust based on foliage.
- Position near, not on trails – Set up 25-35 yards from trails to intercept deer as they pass through.
- Minimize silhouette – Align the stand so the fewest branches are behind you to avoid an unnatural outline.
- Clear shooting lanes – Trim branches and limbs to allow clean, unobstructed shots where you expect deer.
- Check the prevailing winds – Point the open side of ladder stands downwind to hide entry and minimize scent.
- Have a shooting rail – A bar running across the stand front helps stabilize your bow for better accuracy.
- Add camouflage – Use burlap, netting, or commercial products to break up the stand outline.
Take your time preparing the perfect stand location. Rushed setups lead to problems down the road. Now let’s move on to scouting to select those prime locations.
No stand location tips can replace spending time scouting to discover ideal setup spots. Here is how I scout:
- Start early – Begin scouting 4-6 months before season to learn deer patterns and monitor new sign.
- Glass open areas early & late – Spot deer movement and bedding areas during morning and evening prime times.
- Map tracks & trails – Walking the area reveals game trails. Mark these hot zones for stand placement.
- Find food and water sources – Nearby acorn trees, soft mast, crops and streams attract deer.
- Search for buck sign – Scrapes and rubs signal buck activity and prime areas to intercept them.
- Consider funnel zones – Saddles, creek crossings and other convergence points are stand hot spots.
- Watch the wind – Monitor wind direction in key areas to optimize stand placement.
- Avoid over-scouting – Limit your presence to avoid spooking deer. Use trail cameras once areas are identified.
Take detailed notes on promising stand locations and deer patterns for reference when setting up stands later. Varying wind directions may require multiple stand sites. Now let’s look at managing wind while hunting.
Wind is the hunter’s worst enemy, carrying scents and sounds to alert deer. Managing wind and movement is critical for elevated stand hunting success. Here are some tips:
- Check wind direction regularly – Use wind checkers, milkweed seeds or other visible means to monitor wind shifts.
- Have multiple stand locations -Have options in different wind conditions. Be mobile and adaptable.
- Avoid movement during shifts – Wait until the wind stabilizes before changing stands or positions.
- Stay downwind – If deer approach your stand from downwind, you are busted.
- Remain still – Excess movement will give away your position. Only draw your bow when the moment is right.
- Play the thermals – Climb stands early before thermals reverse and blow scent downward.
- Watch noise too – A squeaky stand or haul line can also alert deer even if the wind is right.
- Have an exit plan – Know your wind-dependent escape route if you get busted to avoid spooking more deer.
Properly managing wind and movement takes experience and close observation. Now let’s look at key strategies for odor and noise management.
Camouflage and eliminating scents are just as important as hiding the wind when elevated stand hunting. Use these tips:
- Use a scent-eliminating spray – Treat clothes, gear, boots and stands to minimize human odors. Stay downwind!
- Shower before the hunt – Use scent-free soap and shampoo to remove non-natural smells from your body.
- Don’t smoke or eat odorous foods – Avoid tobacco, coffee, fragrant foods etc. Deer have incredible noses!
- Wear rubber boots & gloves – Reduce scent transfer from hands and feet to stands and surroundings.
- Carry gear in scent-proof bags – Keep clothing and other items isolated from environmental odors.
- Wear a full camo suite – Break up your human profile and movement with head-to-toe camo.
- Brush in ground blinds – In ground blinds, use natural brush to conceal silhouette and movement.
- Stay quiet! – No loud noises or voices. Even distant sounds can alert deer.
Mastering scent and noise control takes diligence but is vital for getting deer in close. Now let’s move on to executing the perfect shot once you’ve got deer in range.
With deer nearby, shot execution is the final step in the hunt. Stay calm, patient and ready when the moment arrives.
- Practice your setup routine – Follow the same steps each time you draw your bow to build consistency.
- Wait for broadside or quartering away shots – Only take ethical shots that provide access to vitals.
- Pick a spot and stick to it – Focus on an exact spot through the shot process without moving your gaze.
- Control breathing – Shallow breaths minimize body movement and maintain stability.
- Draw straight back – No angled draws that throw off alignment. Watch your anchor point.
- Lean slightly forward – Counteract the tendency to lean back when drawing to maintain balance.
- Follow through – Hold the form several seconds after the shot to avoid jerking the bow.
- Be ready for multiple shots – Stay calm and ready to re-draw immediately if the first shot misses.
Practice shot execution repeatedly until it becomes second nature. Simulate hunting conditions for ideal preparation. Now let’s look at a vital piece of gear for ethical shots – the rangefinder.
Modern rangefinders are a game changer for elevated stand bowhunting. Know exactly how far that buck is before drawing your bow.
- Practice at fixed distances – To translate rangefinder ranges into shot placement, practice at known distances first.
- Range landmarks – Note exact distances to trees, rocks and other landmarks near expected deer zones.
- Measure shot angles too – Rangefinder the ground and target distances to account for steep shot angles.
- Factor in inclines – Uphill and downhill shots impact arrow trajectory. Aim slightly high/low as needed.
- Consider effects on pins – Sight pins gaps expand at longer distances. Be conscious of point of impact.
- Range often – Always verify deer distance before drawing, even if you have ranged the area before. Deer move!
- Only take ethical shots – If outside your effective range or there’s any question on distance, don’t take the shot.
With practice, a rangefinder will remove any guesswork on shot distances. Time to move on to my final tip – realistic practice from your elevated stand.
Here’s a fact everyone should take seriously – most missed treestand shots are due to inadequate practice from elevated positions! Don’t let this be you.
- Practice from the height/angle of your stand – Ground-level practice does NOT simulate actual shooting conditions.
- Use 3D practice targets – Lifelike targets at multiple distances help hone real world skills.
- Practice uphill & downhill – Vary inclination to experience the impact of angle on your shots.
- Shoot from sitting & standing – Practice all shooting positions you expect to use in your stand.
- Practice drawing & aiming smoothly – Simulate hunting scenarios requiring silent, quick but careful shot execution.
- Time your shot sequence – Challenge yourself to draw, range, aim and release within a short window.
- Stay properly balanced – Don’t sacrifice form. Bend at the waist and lean forward to offset steep angles.
- Use broadheads – Practice occasionally with your actual hunting broadheads, not just field points.
Make elevated stand practice part of your regular archery training, well before hunting seasons start. Mimic real-world variables like angles, instability, concealment and shot urgency.
There you have it – my personal collection of expert tips and hard-won lessons for successful bowhunting from elevated stands. I’ve given you the full scoop, from vital safety essentials to mastering that perfect shot when the moment of truth arrives.
Some key takeaways:
- Safety is paramount. Use proper harness and gear. Take your time climbing.
- Choose and set up stand locations wisely based on thorough scouting and analysis.
- Wind and thermals are a sneaky assassin. Take measures to keep scent downwind.
- Scent control and absolute concealment are mandatory. Become a tree!
- Practice, practice, practice from your stand under realistic conditions. It’s a game changer.
These tips have helped me tag many trophy bucks over the years after plenty of hilarious early failures! I’m confident they will help set you up for hunting success as well. With smart preparation and dedication to practice, you’ll gain the skills and confidence needed to be a top-notch treestand bowhunter.
Now get out there, be safe, hunt hard, and enjoy creation from above the ground. Wishing you the best of luck this season! Let me know if you have any other elevated stand questions. Happy hunting!
Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website CaptainHunter.com. When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.