A seat on the ground can be quite comfortable when your back rests against a wide tree trunk and your behind nestles between stout roots extending from the base of the bole. Alas, this family room recliner-like setup is rarely available where you need it. One alternative is to sit cross-legged or kneeling on the ground. While this approach is the essence of simplicity, your knees, hips and back will soon inform you simplicity isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
When Julie Hall sets up without a tree to her back, she rests her bottom on a camouflaged plastic bucket fitted with a padded seat. She claims it’s all she needs to sit comfortably for the three to five hours she usually stays on stand.
Curt Lytle, a Virginia bowhunter, digs a knee-deep hole when he hunts from the ground. He sits on the edge of the hole with his lower legs down in the opening. This arrangement requires shooting a canted bow, or a short, compact bow that may be held vertically without touching or interfering with the ground or other objects.
“The hole lets me keep a low profile while sitting upright, and it doesn’t stress my joints,” says Lytle.
Even though Christainer’s first hunting was done while sitting on the ground as a youngster, he quickly learned he couldn’t endure the discomfort for long periods. He also discovered this posture required too much movement to get into shooting position when a whitetail suddenly slipped into bow range.
“A deer is usually close when you see it from a ground stand in thick cover,” says Christainer. “You have to shoot quickly. My buddies who hunt from treestands see 10 times as many deer as I do, but I get more deer in bow range.”
To alleviate aching joints and help him maintain a vigilant, at-ready pose, the young Christainer cobbled dozens of small, wooden stools six to eight inches high, finding they provided a giant leap toward comfort and effectiveness. Christainer would leave the stools in the field at multiple stand sights. They were never given a protective finish and soon weathered and blended with their surroundings.
Christainer has used a Game Tracker lightweight folding camo chair fitted with a shoulder sling for easy carrying. The chair supports the hunter higher above the ground for better clearance when shooting. Its padded backrest provided such a considerable increase in comfort that Christainer abandoned stools altogether.
“A backrest makes a huge difference,” he says. “It lets me sit quietly for longer periods without fidgeting. The chair’s legs have cross members on the bottom. That’s important, because it prevents the legs from sinking into soft soil and tilting the chair. You want it to be as level as possible.”
Should he set up on uneven ground, Christainer levels a place for the chair with a small garden shovel he carries in the pocket located beneath the chair’s folding seat. The pouch also holds snippers, a knife, a flashlight, and other loose items.
Christainer’s chair had plastic washers between joints to keep it quiet. After a season or two of hard use, Christainer claims the chair loosened to the point where creaking was a nuisance. He fixed this problem by replacing the chair’s rivets with nuts and bolts and installing thicker plastic washers. He also applied thick brown tape to strategic places on the chair’s legs to prevent metal-to-metal contact.
Next: Look For Adequate Ground Cover, Ease Into Shot Position…