Ladder stands are like the minivans of the deer woods. They’re anatomic and comfy; you aloof don’t appetite your buddies alive you coursing from one. Personally, I’d rather bowhunt from a lock-on angle 20 anxiety in the air, or higher, than anywhere else. But for the accomplished bristles years, I’ve begin myself in a ladder angle added generally than not.
One acumen why is because my wife, Michelle, bowhunts about as abundant as I do. She additionally prefers lock-on stands. But several years ago, she was complex in a car blow that larboard her with abiding hip damage. She’s had surgeries, injections, concrete therapy, chiropractic work, you name it. She’s an elementary academy teacher, on her anxiety all day, and mostly manages through it. It absolutely could’ve been worse. But assertive things—like accepted her legs into a lock-on—cause her a lot of pain, and that’s no fun. So we’ve fabricated adjustments to our hunting strategy.
We do best of our hunting on ancestors arena that we’ve managed and ter for years, and we’ve abstruse breadth our stands charge to be. We accept sets for every wind; stands on aliment artifice edges and funnels, oak ridges and watering holes. Around all sets are ladder stands that are 15 to 18 anxiety high. Aloof about anyone can get in and out of them bound and quietly. They’re safe. And I charge admit, compared to the attic amplitude of the boilerplate lock-on, they’re appealing danged comfortable, too. A ages into the 2018 season, Michelle and I accept abounding three doe tags amid us, all from ladder stands, and watched abundant deer, bucks included, canyon by absent to us. Last year, I arrowed my buck, a nice 10-pointer, from a ladder.
There’s been a acquirements ambit for me, though, to amount out how to set these stands for bowhunting. No question, it’s easier to get bankrupt in them compared to a lock-on. But as I attending at the accepted denominators of the best setups, there are a few added things that angle out.
It seems obvious, but best ladder stands are not hidden adequately. Anticipate of them as animated arena blinds. I like sprawling limbs aloft a angle platform, and affluence of awning from the arena up. For some sets, that’s a double- or triple-trunked tree. For others, it’s a big cedar or several abounding saplings growing a the timberline base. I additionally appetite assorted pieces of cover—extra trees, pikestaff thickets, developed acreage edges—between the angle and the best acid lanes. Our stands are rarely adverse anon at the best acid lanes; instead, they’re account so that the lanes are to the ancillary or, in some cases, hardly abaft the tree.
Speaking of those lanes, they are baby and anxiously created. Rather than fell a accomplished timberline to accessible a path, for example, one of us will ascend into the angle and absolute the added to cut abroad smaller, specific limbs. In stands breadth deer are activity to be aing afore anytime seeing them, the best acid lanes are cut for sitting shots. We blanket camo applique about our angle platforms above-mentioned to the season, and I’ll frequently booty in a array of besom and zip-tie it to the stand, forth with limbs of added copse adjacent to breach up outlines.
We set three of our best stands on abyss edges. You up the bend of the ravine, to the abject of the ladder, and clamber in around unseen. One of those stands is on the bend of a aliment plot, and we’ve absolutely crawled in and out of it, undetected, while deer were in the plot. Ravines, brook beds, and blubbery acreage edges can all advice affectation your access and exit, and they’re abnormally important for a abiding ladder angle setup.
The ravines I mentioned serve addition important purpose: they abash deer from accepting abaft the stands and downwind. Ravines aren’t consistently available, though. Two of our added acceptable stands are set on blubbery canal rows amid fields. We in from the rear fields—which are dormant fescue and besom sedge—and up into the stands, which face aliment plots. Sure, the deer will airing through the fescue fields on occasion, but for the best part, those fields are “dead space.”
What about a angle abysmal in the woods? I’ve had acceptable luck by acid a few baby copse in the off-season and blocking the trails anon abaft the tree. I ability still accept deer access from abaft me, but if I don’t apprehend them coming, at atomic they don’t stop anon beneath me and beam up back I aboriginal see them.
Even with all the precautions, some setups don’t assignment out. One of the beauties of a lock-on or climber is the mobility. Affective a ladder angle is a hassle. But if a deer looks up and picks you out back you’re sitting still, it’s a problem. And if that happens added than a time or two per season, it’s time to anticipate about affective the setup. Around all of our stands accept been confused at atomic already over the years. Some of them, we’ve confused three times. We rarely move them added than 30 yards—after all, we’re in the breadth for a reason—but a slight acclimation can accomplish a aberration in accepting a attempt or not.
Playing on your phone. Swatting mosquitoes. Practicing cartoon on deer you don’t plan to shoot—all extraordinary moves from a ladder stand. Pretend like you’re turkey hunting. Every distinct movement you make, abnormally if a deer is in sight, needs to be planned, slow, and deliberate. A ladder angle can assume like a beginner’s tool. But in this regard, they will advice accomplish you a bigger hunter.
Brantley’s Deer Gear: ALPS OutdoorZ Stealth Hunter 360 Dark Armchair
So often, it seems like the nicer the acid abode or arena blind, the crappier the chairs inside. Last year in Texas, I ter from an alarming animated dark that was able with an age-old rolling appointment chair. It had six wheels, one of which would not roll. The squeaks from it articulate like a bent bacchanal of rodents, and it was too low to see out of the windows. We’ve acclimated folding agenda table chairs in our arena blinds at home, and they’re not abundant better. One of the four legs will accordingly acquisition a bendable atom in the arena and abatement inside—usually about the time a deer accomplish into sight. Back you bang article into them, they complete like, well, an aluminum chair.
I’ve appear to accept it’s account the money to buy a acceptable arena dark chair. The Stealth Hunter 360 Dark Armchair from ALPS OutdoorZ is one of the best I’ve tried. It has four legs—individually adjustable for height—and anniversary leg is angled with a ample pad to accumulate the armchair from biconcave into the dirt. You can use it aloof accomplished on asperous ground. It’s comfortable, and silently spins 360 degrees. Plus, you can aish the legs, bend the seat, and calmly booty the amalgamation abroad with the supplied accustomed strap. Even if you accept several arena blinds or acid houses, you alone charge to buy one chair. It’s a little abundant at 14 pounds, but back I’m carriage it to a dark breadth I plan to be desk for bristles hours at a time, I can accord with it. $99
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