John's Journal...

Ups and Downs of Tree Stands for Hunting Deer

Day 3: How Many Tree Stands Do You Need for Deer Hunting and Problems You’ll Face Hunting from Tree Stands

Editor’s Note: One size of tree stands doesn’t fit all. To choose an effective tree stand, first study the conditions in the area you hunt. Then select a tree stand to match them.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“The number of stands a hunter needs to effectively hunt depends on the number of good places he has to hunt,” Dr. Robert Sheppard, longtime avid deer hunter from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, explains. “For instance, I like to hunt travel trails. If I find a well-worn travel trail that runs east and west, I know to hunt that area I can’t approach the trail or have a stand that faces east or west. However, I can approach from the south or the north. Therefore, I will have two stands set-up and ready to hunt from – one facing south and the other facing north. Then depending on the wind, I should be able to hunt from one of those stands most of the time without having my scent blown into my hunt site.”

On 2,000 acres of land, Dr. Sheppard may find one or two outstanding places where he will set-up two tree stands as previously described. He may locate eight or 10 other sites that are productive spots. But because of less deer movement, a hunter only may need one stand set-up at each of these places. Sheppard leaves no tree stands at the sites he’s selected for hunting. Yet, he does prepare the site for the stand ahead of time by using a drill to bore small holes in the trees where he’ll place bolts for climbing. Then on the morning Sheppard hunts, he puts the bolts in the holes and climbs up the bolts and utilizes either a lock-on limb type stand or a painter’s seat kind.

According to Sheppard, “For a stand to be effective, it must be invisible except when you’re in it. If other hunters see your stand at your stand site, they’ll hunt from it. The good spot you’ve found soon will become a community area with everyone hunting there. So, when I go up a tree stand, I place bolts into pre-drilled holes. I put my stand up and hunt. When I come down the tree, I take my stand with me as well as the bolts out of the tree. Hiding your stand sites from other hunters is just as important as locating a good place to put your stand.

Early Days of Tree Stands:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOne of my first remembrances of the climbing tree stand was a story told some 30-years ago by a friend of mine, outdoor writer J. Wayne Fears of Huntsville, Alabama. Remember that during the early days of climbing tree stands, hunters knew very little about them. Since seat climbers hadn’t been invented at first, instead sportsmen hugged trees and pulled the platforms up below them. As Fears remembers, “I got one of those new-fangled climbing stands that you hug the tree, pull your legs up, push down and then go up the tree. I thought that climbing stands were the slickest things I ever had seen. The stand seemed to work just like a car jack – you pushed down with your feet, and you went up the tree. Well, when I first got a climbing stand, I went up this pine tree about 20 feet. The view was great, because I could see everything on top of the mountain. But when dark started to fall, I realized I had a problem. Although I attempted to go down the tree, each time I tried to move that jack-like tree stand, I went up instead of down. The darn thing didn’t have a down button. Finally, after working that stand slowly but diligently for about 30 minutes, I was then about 25-feet high, but dark had already fallen. I was in a mess, and I knew it.”

However, being the resourceful woodsman that he is, Fears developed a plan from his experience in the military. “Since I had gone through jump school while in the military, I thought I could jump out of that stand, hit, roll and be okay. But the problem was that I couldn’t see the ground from where I was. I sat on the bottom of the stand, pushed off and dropped. The ground came up much faster than I thought it would. There was no time to prepare – and no hit and roll. There was only a hard thud as my legs gave way, and my fanny hit the ground. As I came to and felt the intense pain in my posterior, I saw little white spots before my eyes and got a funny taste in my mouth. By the light of the moon, I could see that tree stand still hanging on the side of the tree. Dragging myself out of the woods that night, I looked back one more time at the cursed stand and decided to never again climb up something I couldn’t climb down.”

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” Go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Kinds of Tree Stands

Check back each day this week for more about "Ups and Downs of Tree Stands for Hunting Deer "

Day 1: Outdoor Writer John E. Phillips’ Deer Hunting Experience with Tree Stands
Day 2: The Value of Tree Stands for Hunting Deer
Day 3: How Many Tree Stands Do You Need for Deer Hunting and Problems You’ll Face Hunting from Tree Stands
Day 4: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Kinds of Tree Stands
Day 5: Why Hunt the Worst Stands for Big Bucks with a Tree Stand

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Entry 739, Day 3