Guide to Deer Hunting Stands – 5 Styles Compared

Stands used for Hunting Trophy Deer

Today’s Deer Hunting Stands come in many styles and sizes. Some are home-built; but today, most are bought from sporting goods stores or online. The deer hunting stand is by far one of the most important accessories a whitetail deer hunter can own and use. One strategy for the deer hunter is the ability to be mobile. Today’s deer hunter has to be able to hunt the different wind patterns and be able to move to various areas where whitetail deer live. The hunter must be able to hunt a whitetails movement patterns and overall behaviour. Nothing aids the deer hunter like the variety of hunting stands available to them today. The cost of these hunting stands is usually less than when trying to build one oneself. Today’s stands for deer hunting are lightweight and portable. Many can be carried daily into a deer hunting area, set up quietly in a matter of minutes, and moved later in the day if needed. Many states public deer hunting areas and management zones do not allow a deer hunter to build a permanent stand on a public hunting site. Also, many of these public areas require hunters to remove their hunting stands daily.

Our Hunter Safety Test Answer article includes test questions about deer hunting here. 

Types of Stands for Deer Hunting

Home Built

The first type most deer hunters are familiar with is the home built. Be sure to check your state and local game laws for regulations regarding permanent built deer hunting stands; some are regulated how high they can be and other aspects dealing with permanent hunting stands. With this stand, hunters buy and gather all materials needed to build a deer stand and then haul everything out into their hunting area.

I call this one “The Throne”; many deer have been harvested out of this stand. Year after year it has produced. This one is in my future plans to rebuild for comfort.
I call this one “The Throne”; many deer have been harvested out of this stand. Year after year it has produced. This one is in my future plans to rebuild for comfort.

Many times extra bulky equipment is needed; hammers, saws, nails, screws, bolts, levels, power equipment, generators, seats, sometimes wall/siding material, steps, even windows and roofing material. Some home-built/self-built deer stands can become quite large and elaborate on private lands. Most self-built stands are small, practical and simple to build and use. One problem here is that many have to be rebuilt within a few years, if not yearly for safety. Another problem is that there are no safety regulations governing what can be built and how it pertains to how safe it is built. My advice on self-built stands proceeds with caution; if in question, and not familiar with building procedures, don’t build.

If you are determined to build a deer hunting stand for yourself or others; overbuild it for safety purposes. Use strong treated materials and fasteners that will last for years. Recheck it every year before the season starts; redo/rebuild it when needed or if in question. When going to hunt from one, every time before using and or climbing, you need to check it over for problems, loosened materials, and exposed issues that may cause accidents or falls. You can’t be too safe! Every year many, many deer hunters get seriously injured when they fall from hunting stands and/or when climbing trees. All of these accidents and injuries can and should be prevented. It is your responsibility to hunt safely. As always; wear an approved 4 or 5 point safety harness.

Home Built Deer Hunting Stands
This last home-built stand uses a fishing boat seat. I use pipe hanging brackets around the base of the platform a then place cut pine bows all around the edges adding great camouflage.

Lightweight and Portable “Hang On” Hunting Stands

Lightweight and portable deer hunting stands allow the most flexibility for a deer hunter to get into great deer hunting areas. You can carry in this style of hunting stand strapped to your back or carry it in your hands. You will need a climbing method to set it up and get in and out of it. These work great in Federal Forests, State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, Special Permit Hunting Lands, Private Property, and other areas where stands can’t be built or left up overnight. Most of these stands are compact and weigh 12 to 25 pounds with accessories. When scouting for a stand site; look for intersecting deer trails, natural runways, funnels that deer have to move through to get to and from bedding & feeding areas. Note any small trails that run parallel to these main trails; these are buck trails that side skirt other deer trails. Note the prevailing wind patterns and scout downwind of the trails about 15 to 25 yards for a straight tree full of mast branches and leaves for background camouflage. Other trees in the background will help you in your quest for concealment. Use the movement of the sun to your advantage; force to deer to look into the sun to see you. Disturb the area as little as possible; stay off deer trails. Set up any sent bombs upwind of intersecting trails and at 45-degree angles about 15 to 20 yards from your shooting lane. Place cut limbs of brush and branches around the base of your stand to break further up any outline you may expose.

To get your stand up in a tree you will need screw-in or strap on steps (check with local and state laws in this deer hunting area pertaining to screw in steps that may damage trees; you may not be able to use these), or a ladder stick of some sort (made up of 3 or more put-together sections that you ratchet strap securely onto the tree). Always wear a safety harness (Do not just tie something around your waist – this is very dangerous as you could strangle and kill yourself in minutes if you should slip and fall), strap it to the tree and use it as directed by the manufacturer anytime your feet leave the ground while climbing a tree or ladder.

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Climbing Deer Stands

Climbing deer hunting stands are very similar to portables with the exception you don’t use screw in or strap on steps or a ladder. These type of portable stands can be much quieter than those with steps to set up or screw in. They are a two-piece stand where you connect each piece to a tree (as directed by the manufacturer). You then climb inside the top piece and put your feet into the stirrups on the bottom piece. You then connect the safety harness you’re wearing around the tree as directed and start climbing the tree. You first slip the safety harness strap that is around the tree up a foot or so, then raise the top stand piece and allow the weight of your body to be supported by your forearms, then raise the lower piece with your feet as directed by the manufacturer – making sure the lower foot platform is secure/stable before doing it all again until you get to the height you want. Straight, lower branchless trees work best as you don’t have the additional work of sawing/trimming branches out of the way (You can not unhook/release the stand from the tree and try to re-attach it to a spot on a branch or tree limb – that would be very dangerous!). Climbing deer stands are usually a little heavier than hang on portable stands; that is because everything is included that is needed.

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Ladder Hunting Stands

Ladder, deer hunting stands, offer a great way to hunt safely from a site that you plan to use often. It usually takes two hunters to put one up and secure it to a tree.

Note this single seat, 15 foot ladder stand, that has a split camouflage fabric wrap on the sides that I can close around it for more concealment. My son Leif harvested a nice 8-pointer from this stand in 2008.
Note this single seat, 15 foot ladder stand, that has a split camouflage fabric wrap on the sides that I can close around it for more concealment. My son Leif harvested a nice 8-pointer from this stand in 2008.

Many of them are now built big enough for two hunters. It is a great stand to use when mentoring a young deer hunter as you both will be sitting next to each other. The mentor can easily coach the youth throughout his or her hunting experience. Another advantage of a ladder stand is that many are built large enough to accommodate some of your hunting accessories; such as backpack, extra gear/clothes, rattling equipment, calls, binoculars, urine bottle, and more. These type of hunting stands are rapidly replacing many of the permanent home built stands. The main reasons are price, portability and safety. I do this and highly recommend doing this: Replace all strapping material every season! I like to use the 1500 pound camouflaged nylon ratchet straps; using a minimum of 4 on each stand/tree. Again, even though these ladder stands seem more stable and secure; always use and wear the safety harness provided with the stand when purchased (or an approved hunter safety harness/vest).

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Ground Stands or Deer Hunting Blinds

These are sweet! These offer the deer hunter concealment while allowing the deer hunter more freedom of movement and some scent control; some of the most frequent problems and mistakes deer hunters do/make that causes them to be spotted or busted by weary deer. Most commercial ground blinds are easily carried and can be set up or taken down in literally seconds. They come in many camouflage designs and patterns to fit almost any hunting situation or area. Most are roomy enough for a chair, stool, or seat of some sort along with plenty of areas to store accessories that will be easily accessible. Many deer hunting blinds are big enough to accommodate another hunter or even a camera person if video-taping. Some blinds are lined with a scent control masking material; thus helping control scent busting odours. I have several and use them as permanent seasonal blinds. I put them up early in strategic areas and leave them there. I hunt them when conditions are optimal for their use.
Deer hunting blinds are a great tool for older hunters or deer hunters with disabilities. Easy to get into and use. Easy to leave when done. In my opinion, they are the safest hunting set-up. Many states now require hunting blinds to be marked with visible blaze orange materials of specific size and placement; make sure you check your state’s laws for information pertaining to this regulation and safety issue. I recommend marking your deer hunting blind even if it is not required by regulations. Deer are color-blind and use visual cues; blaze orange material will appear a dull grey to them and will actually add to the camouflage break-up effect of your blind. I use retired/used blaze orange hunting material and place a large section of it on each side of my hunting blinds during the firearm/rifle season. Hunt safe so you can deer hunt longer!

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