A very common question among bow hunters is the correct height for hanging a tree stand? Everybody seems to have their own thoughts on the matter varying from the normal to the extreme. Seems like deer hunters have been climbing to new heights. Some hunters prefer their tree stand to be extremely high while others prefer a more intimate approach. So how high should your tree stand be?
What’s The Best Treestand Height?
Determining the proper tree stand height is more about preference than science. It’s like the “Bro Science” you get at the gym, everybody seems to have their own opinion and no facts to back it up. I know a lot of guys that hunt up above 35 feet, trying to keep their scent down, while others have just as much success down low. So what’s the ideal Treestand Height?
My Favorite Height is 18-24 Feet
I think that most hunters will be satisfied mounting their tree stand somewhere between 15 and 35 feet. My go to treestand height is right around 20 feet. Take a look at these Lone Wolf Climbing Sticks. It’s a four piece set where each piece is 3 feet long. Assuming a 1 foot gap between each section of climbing sticks brings brings you pretty close to the 20-22 foot range.That isn’t the only set that’s in that height range. All the best tree stand climbing sticks and ladders go between 18-24 overall feet.
So my favorite treestand height is right around 20 feet, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best height. There are a few advantages to going higher up in the tree that I’ll discuss below.
Advantages of The 18-24 Feet Tree Stand
- Safer in Case of Fall: Falls from treestands kill more hunters every year than every other accidental death combined. No matter how safe you think you are accidents still happen. A fall from 20 feet will probably hurt like hell, but most people survive(you can’t say that at 35+ feet). Do yourself a favor and skip that old ratty harness passed down from your grandfather. Buy a modern advanced harnesses like this Hunter Safety System Harness Bowhunter Safety Harness. I find it crazy that some hunters skip a good harness when they could get one of the best for less than the cost of a decent arrow setup.
- Easy to Find Gear: Pretty much all hunting gear is marketed towards hunters that are trying to setup about 20 feet into the tree. Just about every ladder and set a climbing sticks is somewhere between 18-24 feet tall. To go any higher than that you’re going to have to buy double the gear and increase your overall price tag.
- Perfect Entry Angle For Bow Hunters: Going right around 20 feet gives you the best chance of hitting the kill zone. You should be able to still get a shot on the deers side offering the largest kill zone possible.
- Great For Fear of Heights: Obviously the higher you get up into a tree the more the height is going to affect you. I’ve found that about 20 feet is the perfect height for hunters with a mild fear of heights. It’s about the same height as a second story deck which most hunters are fairly comfortable with.
Disadvantages of 18-24 Feet Tree Stand
- Easier To Blow Your Cover: It doesn’t matter how silent you think you’re being with a little bit of movement deer will spot you. The higher you go up above a deer the less likely they are to see or smell you.
You Can Go Really High if You Want
There are a ton of really great hunters that set their tree stands really high up. I’m talking in the 35 foot minimum range some leaning more towards 45-50 feet. To me going up that high seems insane, but they always seem to bag a pretty nice buck. With a climbing tree stand you can pretty much climb as high as you want. I’ve used my Viper SD Climbing Treestand to get up to some pretty high setups. Utilizing the trees natural cover to take advantage of the situation. So what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of going up that high?
Advantages of 35+ Feet TreeStand
- Keep Your Scent Down: By far the biggest advantage to going up 35+ feet in a treestand is that you’re going to keep your scent down. The higher you go up into the tree the less likely they’ll pick up your scent. It will keep the deer on the downwind side for as far as possible.
- Wider Field of View: As you get higher up into a tree you should have a much wider field of view. Whether or not you can actually hit those far-off targets is another matter altogether. You’re going to have a much bigger advantage during the rifle season then you will hunting with a bow.
- Easier To Blend into Cover: The thickest leaf cover is always at the top of a tree. Camouflaging into the natural cover will significantly break up your outline.
Disadvantages of Tall Treestands
- Smaller Kill Zone: As you climb higher and higher into the tree your kill zone will shrink. Shooting from above offers a narrow target versus the wide kill zone from the side. Not only is your target smaller it’ll be much harder to hit with a bow. The Pythagorean Theorem quickly reaps hell on your overall range when you get that high up into a tree.
- Fear of Heights: When you get up this high into a tree a mild fear of heights will really kick in. The tree will be swaying and you’ll have a lot more wind. Plus improper safety rigging will almost guarantee death with a fall at this height.
- More Expensive: Climbing treestands like my Summit Viper SD will get you to great heights, but they’re quickly thwarted by a single low branch. You’re either going to have to find a tree with no low branches or cut them off as you go up. The only other option is to buy a second set of tree stand climbing sticks doubling your overall cost.
Work With The Tree
Whether or not you want to go high up into a tree will largely depend on the tree you’re trying to work with. If there’s a lot of great cover up around the 30-35 foot mark raising your tree stand up a little bit might give you that slight edge you need. On the other hand trees with narrow tops might offer a little to dangerous of a climbing opportunity. Just make sure you keep safety in mind when you’re deciding how high you actually want to go. The higher you go the the more you rely on your safety gear.
Try Not To Hit a Single Lung
The higher you get up into a tree the narrower your actual kill zone. When you’re up high it’s going to be like you’re shooting directly down at deer. This is going to make it much more likely that you’ll accidentally hit a single lung. Do yourself and the deer a favor and drop down a bit to increase your chances of a quick clean kill.