I’ve always been a hang-on treestand guy—from day No. 1. It started when my uncle helped me chain one of his homemade steel stands to my first Minnesota Back 40 tree. Sure I had to sit on a 5-gallon bucket and it made a ton of noise, but I was hooked and couldn’t imagine hunting from a tree any other way.
Since then I’ve hunted from many different types of treestands on public land, but I’d never hunted from a climbing stand … until this season. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you it changed the way I hunt public land for whitetails. The Viper SD I used made switching locations a breeze and converted me into a more mobile hunter.
Getting Used To Change
Sure there were times (primarily the first couple of days of the season) I wished I’d brought one of my hang-on stands along. For example: Trying to get down from the tree that first afternoon of the firearms season took me at least 15 minutes, a task that would have only taken mere seconds from my hang-on. The upside came after a brief lunch and a change of wind direction.
In the past with a hang-on or ladder stand, no matter what would happen with the wind, there was no way I’d have enough time to take my stand down and switch locations. My only option would be to sit in the same location and hope another hunter would bump a deer in my direction. But not with this climber—it took me about 90 seconds to take it off the tree and pack it up. I found a new tree and was able to get set up in a matter of minutes. I ended up seeing a couple of does, which I know I wouldn’t have seen in the original location.
Filling The Freezer
After a bit of a late start one morning, I was able to quickly sneak up a tree near the parking lot in time for a doe to walk-in and bed down behind me. Ultimately, I was able to shoot the doe and put meat in the freezer and would have never had the chance with any other type of portable stand.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been able to get my other stands up in the tree, but because the climbing stand is so quick and quiet, I made it up into a tree I hadn’t used before—in the dark—with ample time remaining before the majority of the deer movement was happing.
Breaking It Down
Below are some of the benefits and downfalls of climbing treestands to help you decide if they’re a good fit for you.
- Benefits Of Climbing Stands
- Fast easy set-up: Simply cut a few minor branches as you’re climbing up the tree.
- Easiest portable stand to move around the woods: There aren’t any steps or ladders to worry about.
- They’re quiet: No clanking of straps or ladders.
- Comfortable: I can’t speak for all of them, but the Summit Viper SD sure is.
- Change your view from above: If you set your stand up and aren’t happy with your how high you are or the direction you’re facing, you can adjust it without getting out of the stand.
- Downfalls Of Climbing Stands
- You’re limited: Not every tree will work. If there are excessive amounts of branches you won’t be able to use it.
- Going down: If you plan on using the same tree later, you can’t leave the stand up in the tree for easy access later.
- There’s a learning curve: If you’ve never used one before, make sure you practice with it before you head into the woods. They can be a little tricky and you might have a few issues trusting the stand as you ascend a tree the first few times.
If you hunt public land, adding a climbing stand to your arsenal of treestands is a must. Although they do have some limitations, they’re the supreme portable stand and will allow you to move quickly and quietly from tree to tree, giving you the best chance at killing a deer.