How High Should I Hang My Treestand?

A treestand that is 20 feet up and 25 yards out from the trail gives you a higher percentage chance of hitting both lungs as opposed to a 30-foot shot at the same distance.

How High Should I Hang My Treestand?

When it comes to treestand setup, height has its advantages. Putting a treestand high decreases visibility as you disappear in a maze of leaves and branches. Height also assists in carrying scent safely away on elevated breezes.

Combine that factor with quality scent eliminating products, and you’ve beaten a buck’s nose. Noise is muffled higher up, especially when mixed with the rustling of leaves. Lastly, a whitetail’s side-mounted eyes allow it to see much of the world around, but that focus rarely ventures upward.

Even with all of these positives on your side. you still don’t want to take a perch that requires aircraft warning lights.

“I’ve hunted in a lot of states and I know that every state is different with how deer react to the hunting pressure from treestand hunters,” says Matt Brunet, whitetail and turkey hunting manager at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge in western Illinois. “I used to want to be as high as possible to avoid getting busted, but after getting older and wiser, and after making a few questionable shots because of step angles due to the extreme height of my stands, I have come down a few feet in recent years."

Brunet's ideal height is approximately 18 to 20 feet.

To get a better feel for Brunet’s philosophy, simply take a downward look at deer from an extreme height. The higher you go, the steeper the shooting angle. That means you have to aim higher to pierce the vitals. You could possibly even have the broadhead miss both lungs. A treestand that is 20 feet up and 25 yards out from the trail gives you a higher percentage chance of hitting both lungs as opposed to a 30-foot shot at the same distance.

And it goes without saying, but the higher you climb, the more it increases the chance for an accident. Even with the advancements in treestand safety harnesses, the oddball makeup of some trees forces unorthodox moves to access a stand. Settle with a happy medium in height.

Don't Be a Landscape Professional

After placing the stand in the tree, it’s time to embrace your inner landscaper. Be an amateur and trim wisely. We all strive to have unrestricted shooting opportunities, but limbs, leaves and vines add to your overall concealment strategy. If you start playing weekend landscaper and prune, or cut too many limbs, it could make you stand out like an opera aficionado at a Kid Rock concert.

Remember, as autumn progresses, many of those leaves will fall on their own. There may even come a time when you need to add foliage back to your stand if it stands out.

“Sometimes you have to add foliage back to a stand setup simply because you had to remove a limb for the best stand placement or the leaves dropped,” says Brunet. “I like to use cedar or pin oak branches when I add back to any tree setup. They seem to work the best simply because they keep their color and last longer. And don’t forget to check your shooting movements after you add branches to make sure you won’t bump a branch or that it’s not blocking a shot.”

Even though I don’t guide dozens of hunters like Brunet, I do take extra steps to ensure my treestand sets blend with surroundings. You never know when an educated buck will stop and stare skyward, so strive to make your stand invisible.

Bonus: The Invisible Footprint

Regardless of how well you hide your treestand, you still need to walk to it. And that requires foot traffic. Take extra precautions so you don’t leave a trail of scent along the path to your stand. You have approximately 5 million olfactory receptors in your noise, your canine pal has 220 or more, and it’s believed whitetails have nearly 300 million. Don’t take any chances. Start by always having downwind access to your stands. A backup entrance and exit should also be considered if the wind is expected to change during your sit.

Following traditional scent elimination is a must. You know the routine. Wash your clothes in scent-attacking laundry soap, wash yourself in unscented body wash and if you do sweat always have field wipes to dab your brow for a forest wipe down. Footwear, such as rubber-bottomed boots, is also a requirement to avoid leaving a trail to your stand. Never wear your hunting clothing other than while hunting. Spray your boots and body down with a scent eliminating product before you leave the trailhead. Companies like Wildlife Research Center offer full lines of products to combat your scent from home to the field.

Also pick your routes in and out with scent in mind. Try to stay off major trails and if possible, never cross a major trail, especially as you approach your stand. Once you have a route planned use your pruners and snip away any limbs, and low vegetation that could brush on your clothing. This ensures that only your boots are touching the surrounding environment and you’re not brushing up against any foliage that could tip a deer off to your presence.

Take the extra precautions and you’ll be invisible whether traveling to your stand or hiding in the limbs.


For more tips on making your treestand invisible, check out the first installment of this two-part series.

 

Featured photo: Matt Brunet

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