This particular stand location resulted in 7 shot opportunities in 2017. It had all the qualities of the perfect ladder stand setup before the season even began, and it did not disappoint! A screened access, a hidden climb and a silent ladder stand are just a few of the ingredients for the perfect ladder stand setup.
Now, I have to admit that when it comes to hunting out of ladder stands, I haven't been a huge fan - in the past! But that practice is quickly changing. With a deadly quiet ladder stand placed in the right location, I can fully appreciate the pull towards ladder stands that I am sure will personally expand as the years pass.
TOP 5 LADDER STAND CONSIDERATION STRATEGIES
As someone who picks out stand locations for my clients for my profession, you can probably imagine that I have seen nearly every manufactured treestand or deer blind that has been released during the last two decades. And while there are a few good stands out there folks, there is for lack of a more appropriate online description - a lot of junk! While some manufactures may produce a decent hang-on stand or ladder stand, thankfully I am able to use a high quality manufacturer's stands that include both. Here are my top 5 ladder stand strategies for determining the use of a ladder vs. a hang-on stand, because in the right location a ladder can be the perfect solution for the ultimate combination of comfort and safety:
1. Hidden Hunter Access
It is always critical that you can get to the base of your tree undetected. What my main beef with a ladder stand has always been, is that hunters make a great sneak to the base of their tree, only to have to walk to the opposite side of the tree to expose themselves during their climb, to their entire shooting window. That type of setup makes it nearly impossible to climb into a stand location without spooking a bedded deer within 50-75 yards. My preferred method is to use the back of the tree as cover to climb all the way up to a hang-on stand, and then just slowly ease on over 90 degrees to the stand. By using the tree as cover, a hunter only has to expose themselves to their shooting window for a very brief, but slow, steady movement. On small parcels and tight habitat windows, this can be a critical strategy to keep your hunt integrity intact on your entire parcel, let alone a particular stand location. However, there are many cases where a ladder stand can still be used!
Just like in the video, large trees positioned in front of the stand and a pile of branches can virtually eliminate any view from deer as a hunter climbs into the stand. Also, conifers and tree/shrub combos can also keep deer from seeing a ladder stand climber, as can the topography of the land. I have one treestand setup that I access 25' up to the ladder, before I actually expose myself to my shooting window. Because I access completely from behind a ridge, a ladder or hang-on would work just the same.
2. Dead Quiet Ladder Stand
Folks, if you are using a ladder stand or hang-on, never except any level of noise coming from that stand! If it pings, squeaks, creaks or pops (sometime all at the same time), I personally wouldn't hunt out of it. How many hunts have been ruined before a hunter even got settled in his seat, due to a noisy stand that spooked deer 100-200 yards away? While most ladder stands are too noisy for my taste, there are manufactures that actually have gotten in right.
3. Twisted Tree Opportunities
The twisted old oak in the video was the perfect compliment to not only a great ladder stand setup, but for offering a huge amount of cover for climbing in and hunting out of, that we couldn't take advantage of with a hang-on.
4. Easy Setup
Great ladder stands shouldn't be that hard to setup. Stabilizer bars need to be used when the stand is not rigid enough to stand on it's own. When safety and quiet use are required, then it pays to use a stand that is strong, sets up easy and has very few moving parts. I believe on the Family Tradition Treestands ladder stand that we used, it took 15 bolts and a strap to build the stand, add the seat and secure it dead-quietly and motion-free, to the tree.
Comfort is something I have been extremely picky about for at least 20 years. I can't stand junk stands, because I can't stand not being comfortable. I strictly avoid solid seats, which rules out a number of stands, including those dreaded steal-mesh ladder stand seats on some models. My personal choice is anything that has a saddle style seat made with heavy seat-belt type material, or sometimes mesh. Mesh can be very comfortable, but doesn't seem to last as long as heavy straps.
While using a 20' ladder stick, hang-on and Lifeline is safe enough that I have no problem letting my teenage boys climb into a setup, a high quality ladder stand is often safer, larger and more comfortable. I am obviously extremely picky about my stand access and climb into the stand and those are not areas that I will sacrifice however, that does not mean that a case can't be made for the perfect ladder stand setup. In fact, as I think around to the 21 hang-on setups that I currently have, I can see a few of them that would be actually better, with a ladder stand setup. If it's quiet, can be hidden, is well built and it's easy to set up, you may have found the perfect ingredients for the safer and typically more comfortable option, of a ladder stand!