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How to Set Up a Tree Stand

Setting Up the Tree Stand

A ladder tree stand.
A ladder tree stand.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

So you've picked out your location and you're ready to set up your tree stand. Now you'll need to make sure you have all the equipment neces­sary to set up your tree stand. Not all tree stands require lots of equipment -- climbing stands and ladder stands reduce the amount of extra gear you'll need. But here's some gear you'll need no matter which stand you choose:

  • Safety harnesses, straps and ropes
  • Your rifle or bow
  • A strong rope with which you'll lift your rifle or bow once you're in your stand

Because a climbing stand has its own mechanism for ascending and descending trees, you don't need to worry about climbing gear. Just make sure the tree you select is relatively straight, doesn't have limbs lower than where you plan to sit and isn't too thick or thin. Unlike other stands, when using a climbing stand you can (and should) use a safety strap attached to the tree as you climb up to your position.


Although ladder stands are bulky, they're relatively easy to set up. They come with safety straps at regular intervals along the ladder. You should cinch the straps tightly around the trunk of the tree to secure the stand in place.

Tower stands are also relatively easy to set up. Several manufacturers offer portable hunting stand towers that consist of a platform on top of a simple metal frame. Homemade wooden towers take longer to build and require standard construction tools such as drills, hammers and saws.

Fixed and permanent stands also require you to carry some extra tools. Most fixed stands use straps, ropes or chains to hold fast to a trunk. You may need other tools like power drills and hammers to build a permanent stand. You'll also need a way to get up the tree to secure your stand. The most common tree-climbing tools include tree steps, climbing sticks and tree ladders.

Guide Gear's 20-foot climbing stick
Guide Gear's 20-foot climbing stick

Tree steps are small bars that protrude horizontally from the trunk, giving you a foothold. Some tree steps have straps that you cinch around the trunk. Others have a sharp, threaded end that you must screw into the trunk of the tree. There are a few ways you can do this. You can use an auger to bore a hole in the tree, or if you prefer power tools, you can use a cordless drill with a bark drill bit. As you can imagine, it can take a while to set tree steps in place. And you should always check local laws or landowner preferences before you drill into a tree.­

Climbing sticks are long poles that have horizontal footholds protru­ding off the side. You attach the stick to the trunk of the tree using safety straps. Climbing sticks are similar to tree ladders, which are just like a typical ladder, except that ladders have safety straps.

You should always use a safety harness securely fastened to the tree while fixing your stand in place. If you lose your footing, the harness could save you from serious injury or death. Always wear a secured harness while you are in your stand.

Finding the perfect spot for a tree stand can be a challenging and rewarding experience. It teaches you to recognize the signs of recent game activity and take the surrounding terrain into account. It gives you the opportunity to work with your hands in a natural setting. And it just might give you your chance to make the perfect shot later on.

To learn more about hunting and related activities, scout out the links on the following page.

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More Great Links


  • Clancy, Gary. "Treestand Hunting Strategies: A Complete Guide to Hunting Big Game from Above." Globe Pequot. 2002.
  • International Hunter Education Assocation. (Dec. 2, 2008)
  • Leiby, Dave. "Plans for a Homemade Wooden Tree Stand." 2005. (Dec. 8, 2008)
  • Metzler, Ray. "Don't Let Your Treestand Safety Restraint Leave You Hanging." Outdoor Alabama. (Dec. 3, 2008)
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "Tree stand safety." (Dec. 1, 2008)
  • Murray, Jeff. "How To Set Up Your Tree Stand." Field & Stream. 2007. (Dec. 9, 2008),13355,1215996,00.html
  • Perrotte, Ken. "How to choose a stand." ArmyTimes. (Dec. 8, 2008)
  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "Types of Elevated Stands." (Dec. 1, 2008)