My Beginner’s Guide to Elevated Hunting

Hey there, fellow hunting enthusiast! As someone who’s gotten pretty obsessed with elevated hunting over the past few years, I wanted to share everything I’ve learned to help other beginners just starting out with this exhilarating style of hunting.

See, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of waiting perched high up in a tree stand or tripod, bow at the ready, senses heightened in anticipation of spotting your prey. But that amazing feeling comes with very real risks if you don’t know what you’re doing. Safety has to be the number one priority.

That’s why I put this guide together – to make sure my fellow hunters can enjoy the rush of elevated hunting while avoiding rookie mistakes. I’ll cover choosing the right gear like tree stands, tripods, safety harnesses, lifelines, helmets, boots, and gloves. Proper setup is also key, so I’ll go over picking stable locations, following weight limits, balancing weight distribution, and securely anchoring your stand.

Essential pre-hunt checks are also a must, like thoroughly inspecting all your equipment, verifying local hunting regulations, and informing others of your plans. I’ll go through climbing and descending slowly and safely too. And you’ve gotta stay vigilant once you’re set up there, constantly scanning and listening for game while avoiding distractions. Emergency prep is vital as well, so I’ll detail what to pack just in case.

Get ready for some epic elevated hunts on your tower stands! But first, check out this quick list of key takeaways:

Key Takeaways for Beginner Elevated Hunters:

  • Invest in quality tree stands or tripods, safety harnesses, and other essential gear – don’t cheap out on the stuff keeping you aloft on your deer stands!
  • Carefully inspect locations for stability – no rotting trunks or loose soil allowed around your elevated hunting spot!
  • Always stay within weight limits and distribute weight evenly on your platform.
  • Securely anchor stands and use safety lines at all times.
  • Inform others of your plans and location when using your box blind or tripod.
  • Take it slow when climbing up and down your hunter’s tower. Three points of contact!
  • Constantly scan the area and listen for game from your hunting cabin. Avoid distractions.
  • Be prepared for emergencies with first aid kits, shelters, and more when using your tree stands.

Alright, now let’s get into the nitty gritty details!

Picking the Right Gear for Elevated Hunting

The ground is no place for an elevated hunter! But you need the right gear to safely leave terra firma behind.

Obviously, a good tree stands or tripod should be your first purchase. You can find hang-on stands that strap to trees. Ladder stands with built-in ladders or free-standing tripods. Hang-on stands are usually the lightest, while tripods offer the most flexibility for weird terrain.

Some key things to look for in a deer stand:

  • Weight Capacity: Make sure it can hold you plus all your gear and then some. Falls hurt!
  • Seat Size: Your tush will thank you for a comfy, padded seat with a backrest on those long waits in your blind.
  • Adjustable Height: Lets you adapt to different tree heights and games sizes from your elevated perch.
  • Material: Durable steel or aluminum stands tend to be best. No splintery wood!

When it comes to tripods, tubular or box-frame styles both work, tubular is lighter, but the box is more rigid and stable when used as an elevated stand. Either way, make sure collar adjustments are easy to secure at different heights.

Okay, you’ve got your sweet new tree stand or tripod blind. But the gear doesn’t stop there!

Critical Safety Accessories for Elevated Hunting

A quality tree stand does you no good if you take a tumble from the top! Safety gear is essential:

GearPurpose
HarnessesStraps you to tree to prevent falls
LifelinesLets you clip in when climbing
HelmetsProtects your head from injury
BootsProvides traction on slippery ground
GlovesImproves grip and prevents slivers

Don’t cut corners on safety gear when using your box blinds and tree stands! Now we can move on to proper setup.

Setting Up Your Tree Stand or Tripod Safely

You found the perfect tree or location for your stand? Awesome! But hold up – there’s some crucial steps before climbing up to wait for that trophy buck or doe. Rushing setup risks disaster. Be smart and follow these tips:

Picking a Stable Tree or Location

Your tree or tripod needs a solid foundation to stay upright with you in it. Check for:

  • Sturdy, healthy trunks without rot or damage
  • Large diameter – skinny trunks are shaky
  • Surrounding trees to brace against the wind
  • Flat, even ground without holes for tripods

Watch out for leaners angled to one side – they love dumping hunters! Your stand needs to feel rock solid.

Speaking of solid, weight capacity comes next…

Following Weight Limits

Tree stands and tripods each have a max weight capacity. Exceeding that risks equipment failure or the stand flipping upside down (not fun!).

Before setup, add together your weight plus all hunting gear. Make sure the total stays under the weight limit – I like to keep a 50 lb buffer if possible.

You’ll also need to…

Balancing Weight Properly

Let’s say you and your gear are within the stand’s limits. But if all the weight piles up on one side, you still got problems!

On tree stands:

  • Climb up opposite the ladder to counterbalance it
  • Arrange gear evenly on the platform – don’t overload one side

On tripods:

  • Position yourself centered on the seat
  • Again, distribute gear evenly to avoid tipping

A right-leaning stand flips you onto the ground. Distribute weight intelligently on your deer blinds!

Okay, weight handled. The last step – secure that thing!

Anchoring Your Stand Securely

A wobbly stand spells doom once you’re on it. Making 100% sure it’s anchored solidly prevents swaying or slipping.

For tree stands, ratchet straps around the trunk lock it in place. Aim for at least two points of contact.

On tripods, stake down those legs. Use angle iron braces between legs for max stability if needed.

And never forget to clip in your harness tether! Your anchor point should be above you to catch falls instantly.

Set up right, and you’ve got a solid platform for that elevated perch. Now time for final safety checks…

Pre-Hunt Checks to Keep You Safe

You’ve got the right gear. Your stand’s dialed in. But before climbing up, a few final safety steps remain:

Thoroughly Inspecting All Your Hunting Equipment

Giving your hunting gear a detailed inspection before each trip is absolutely crucial. Before I head out to my tree stand, ground blind, or box blind, I meticulously examine every piece of equipment I’ll be relying on out in the field.

I check my hunting blinds for any structural damage, frayed fabric, or broken fasteners. It’s essential that your blind is in peak condition to safely conceal and protect you from the elements and wildlife. Set aside time to thoroughly inspect for tears, holes, bent poles, or split fiberglass.

All of my hunting gear gets a close look too. I examine my safety harness and lifeline, rangefinder, knives, calls, boots, rain jacket – everything. Any compromised or worn-out gear gets replaced right away. You can never be too cautious with items protecting your life.

I also do a full inventory to make sure I have batteries for electronics, enough water and food, first aid supplies, and other essentials for the length of my hunt and the weather conditions. The last thing you want is to realize halfway through your moose hunt that you forgot extra socks or hand warmers. Leaving things behind can ruin your hunt or even put you in danger.

Taking the time to meticulously inspect all equipment pays off with safety, preparedness, and peace of mind in the field. Don’t cut corners on these pre-hunt checks!

Researching Local Hunting Regulations

Before any hunting trip, I spend time thoroughly researching the local laws and regulations. Hunting regulations can vary greatly between different areas, seasons, and game species. I never assume the rules are the same.

First, I verify that I have the proper licenses, permits, and tags to legally hunt in that location and time of year. General hunting licenses don’t necessarily cover special seasons or certain animals like bears. I check in advance what’s covered to avoid costly citations.

If I’m traveling, I also confirm reciprocity agreements for out-of-state hunters. And if I’m hunting public lands, I look into permit lotteries and restrictions in national forests or wildlife management areas.

In addition to licenses, I research bag limits, mandatory reporting, legal weapons, hunter-orange requirements, and any other area-specific regulations. Regulations change often, so even if I’ve hunted there before, I double-check for new rules. A quick call to the local game department clears up any uncertainties.

Never assume you know the regulations. Laws exist for ethical hunting and wildlife conservation, so I make sure to do my due diligence before every hunt. A bit of research saves me money and ensures the best experience.

Informing Others of Your Specific Plans

Solo hunts come with risks if something goes wrong and no one knows your whereabouts! Before each hunt, I make sure to:

  • Tell my family/friends exactly where I’ll be hunting
  • Give them directions or GPS coordinates if possible
  • Let them know when I expect to be back
  • Ask them to call if I’m late returning

I also make sure to get landowner permission and let them know I’ll be around. Having people expecting you forces you to be careful!

Okay, time for the fun part – climbing up to that sweet elevated perch!

Climbing and Descending Your Stand Safely

As an elevated hunter, getting up and down your stand is the most dangerous part. But with proper precautions, you can ascend and descend confidently without risky slips or falls. Here are my tips for safe stand access.

First, I check my climbing aids, whether a ladder, climbing sticks, or portable hang-on steps. Sturdy steel ladders or stick systems designed specifically for hunting are a must. I inspect for corrosion, damage, or loose rungs before each use. Homemade or jury-rigged setups often collapse under weight.

When climbing, I always have both hands and one foot, or one hand and both feet touching the tree or steps at all times. This 3-point contact rule greatly reduces the chances of falling. I also wear a harness tethered to the tree in case I do lose balance.

To get down, I reverse the cautious process. I feel for secure footing before shifting my weight down. Descending face-first lets me watch for potential slips or equipment snags. Taking my time is key – it’s not a race to the bottom!

Lastly, I consider a descent rope secured at the top for added stability and control while climbing down. With safe gear and focused technique, accessing your elevated stand can be smooth and stress-free. Just remember – slow and steady wins the race.

Staying Focused and Vigilant in Your Elevated Stand

Finally – you’re 20 feet up on your stand or tripod, weapons ready, senses primed for the slightest sound or movement. This is what it’s all about!

But it’s no time to get complacent. Tuning out for even a moment can mean missing that trophy buck emerging from the brush. Stay safe and successful with these tips:

Constant Scanning from Your Elevated Perch

It’s tempting to stare vacantly in one direction for too long. Avoid this by:

  • Systematically scanning the entire area every few minutes
  • Using binoculars or spotting scopes to spot faraway game
  • Taking visual breaks to refresh your eyes

Don’t get target fixation! Stay actively watchful.

Listening Intently for Game Sounds

Your eyes can only see so far. Use your ears to pick up on:

  • Distant twig snaps signaling an approaching animal
  • Elk bugles or turkey gobbles pinpointing their location
  • Potential dangers like rattlesnakes or bears

Even OTHER HUNTERS – if it sounds close, get their attention to avoid accidents.

Eliminating All Possible Distractions

Out here, a brief lapse in focus can be disastrous. Always:

  • Silence phones – no selfies or texting!
  • Ignore hunger or thirst til the hunt’s done
  • Never daydream about anything but big bucks!

Full attention, all the time. Period.

Staying vigilant takes serious mental effort – but I know you got this!

Okay, last topic: preparing for unforeseen problems…

Emergency Preparedness for Your Elevated Hunts

Of course I hope for smooth, uneventful hunts every time I’m on my stands. But the wilderness can throw curveballs when you least expect it.

That’s why every time I head out, I pack a bunch of just-in-case gear:

  • First aid kit – Clean & bandage cuts, stabilize injuries
  • Space blanket – Lightweight emergency warmth
  • Firestarter – Stay warm and signal for help
  • Paracord – Building shelters, fixing broken gear
  • Whistle – Loudly signal if you’re lost or hurt
  • Nitrile gloves – Safely handle blood or game
  • Water filter – Access water sources if stranded

I also tell multiple people where I’m going and when to expect me back.

It’s easy to blow off emergency prep. Don’t get caught unprepared! A few simple items can literally save your life.

Story Time! I’ll never forget the time I was out bowhunting whitetail and didn’t properly prepare for the weather…

Parting Words of Wisdom

Alright my friends, that wraps up this epic guide on getting started with safe, successful elevated hunting!

I tried to make this as helpful as possible for fellow beginners – while also keeping it fun and conversational! Let me know if you have any other tips I should add.

The main takeaway here is that elevated hunting is an incredible experience every hunter should try, as long as you take the proper precautions. Always put safety first and use good common sense. Don’t take unnecessary risks just for a cool photo!

Follow this guide, and you’ll gain skills and confidence for awesome elevated hunts. Just remember – patience and alertness are key. Let the hunt come to you.

Now get out there, be safe, and bag that trophy! Catch you later, and happy hunting, my friends!

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.

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