How High Should I Hang My Tree Stands?

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How high should I hang my stands? This is one of the most common questions in bowhunting. Elevated hunting’s No. 1 selling point is literally rising above the astute noses of the game we pursue. In bowhunting, there’s another majorly important consideration: Undetected shot execution during the conspicuous draw cycle. Tugging a bowstring to anchor isn’t exactly inconspicuous, especially when pulling too much draw weight.

By Patrick Meitin

Returning to the original question of stand height, there’s no single answer, no mathematical formula to offer, as there are too many variables in topography, shooting abilities and animal disposition. For instance, one of my favorite setups is a stand high in a downhill tree allowing me to shoot into a hillside holding a trail or ridge point deer frequent, wind blowing into empty space behind my position. In these cases, my stand may be 50 feet above the ground, but resulting shots only slightly downhill at 20 to 30 yards. I also recall a Kansas stand from which I tagged one of my best bucks to date, a perch situated only eight feet off the ground but affording wrap-around concealment.

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In general terms, besides obvious scent control, I find cover more important than overall stand height. In regards to scent, I strive for sites backed by water, falling terrain or obstacles otherwise discouraging deer from traveling directly downwind. In terms of concealment, I either cut into thickly branched trees to create dark “caves” or carefully choose sites backed by background clutter allowing my camouflage clothing to do its work effectively. The less breakup vegetation available, the higher a stand must be placed to assure reliable concealment. Winter-bare cottonwoods, for instance, require higher perches than thick cedars, firs or early season hardwoods.

Understand, though, in bowhunting, climbing too high can actually create shot angles that are too steep, increasing the likelihood of non-fatal one-lung hits, or worse, shots straight into the back. There’s a balance, weighing stand height against shot distance. If proven travel ways are situated too closely to a high stand, locate a tree set a bit farther back, resulting in 30-yard shots instead of 15-yard shots, for instance — assuring lethal double-lung hits on passing deer.

 

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