Buckmasters Magazine

Hang On!

Hang On!

By P.J. Reilly

Five tips for creating a better treestand setup.

The perfect treestand.

It’s something tree-climbing deer hunters work toward each season. The perfect treestand is more about the setup than the brand on the box. A good setup puts you within bow or gun range of a big buck. It’s comfortable, safe and functional. Quite frankly, it’s a nice place to spend a November day.

Achieving this state of hunting Shangri-la doesn’t happen accidentally or easily. It takes forethought. The following five tips can help you hang the perfect treestand this season.


Of course you’ll be wearing a full-body safety harness when you hang a treestand. Even with a harness, you’ll have to use both hands to haul a stand up a tree. That means your harness is the only thing keeping you from falling.

Instead, hang a pulley and run a rope through it so you can hoist your stand from the ground. Or, if you work with a buddy (and you should), you can be up in the tree while your buddy hoists the stand.

The pulley also serves as a third hand while you’re strapping the stand to the tree. Without it, you have to hold all of the stand’s weight until you wrap the strap or chain around the tree and connect it to the stand.

Your buddy can hold the rope taut from the ground after hoisting the stand to the desired height. If you’re alone, tie off the rope before climbing up and going to work.


Many hunters hang their stands at the tops of sticks or steps. They then have to wrap their arms around the tree as they transition to and from the platform. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Instead, run your sticks or steps the full height of your body above the stand platform. The most dangerous part of climbing is the transition from the sticks or steps to the platform, and vice versa. If you’re going to fall, that’s when it’s most likely to happen. It’s also when most hunters’ safety harnesses aren’t connected to anything.

It’s much easier and safer to make that transition by stepping sideways or down a bit. You can support your body weight with your arms while you have two good handholds.

I’ll go one step further and say anybody using a fixed-position treestand should install a lifeline type device as a standard part of the setup. A lifeline is a rope that attaches above the stand and is anchored at the ground. Once installed, you can hook your safety harness to the rope via a sliding Prusik knot. You’ll be attached and safe from the time your feet leave the ground until they touch down again after the hunt.

If you can’t picture what I’m describing, please visit vimeo.com/47588536 to see a demonstration.


Standing on a 30x24-inch platform 15 feet or more off the ground is unsettling. If your stand isn’t level, it is easy to lose your balance.

Side-to-side leveling is important, as is front-to-back. You don’t want gravity pulling you from the front end of the stand the whole time you’re in it.

Make sure your stand is either level from front to back, or leaning slightly back toward the tree. Leaning back is comfortable — think how recliners work — and if you have to be in a leaning tree, you want gravity pulling you toward the trunk.


Stability is the key to security when you’re climbing into and sitting in a hanging stand. If the stand or the climbing sticks move, even if they don’t break loose entirely, you can lose your balance.

Use ratchet straps to eliminate that movement. You can’t always get chains and straps that secure stands and sticks completely tight. Use the anchoring system that comes with the stand or steps, but add your own ratchet straps for extra security and stability.

At the very least, I add two straps. One is for the top of my climbing sticks. That’s the area most prone to shifting as you transfer from sticks to stand. The second is for the stand platform. For safety and to keep from getting the attention of a wary buck, I don’t want that stand to move a millimeter.


So you’ve found the perfect tree. Now take time to consider the shot before you hang the stand.

Whether you hunt with a gun or bow, movement is most likely to spook a deer — if you’ve set up correctly for the wind, of course.

You can never be certain how a buck will approach a stand, but a good setup takes advantage of land features and regular deer trails to the point where it should be a surprise if he doesn’t show up where you want him to.

Right-handed shooters should hang stands so they either face the direction they expect to see the buck, or to the right of that direction. If you have to turn to shoot, you want to turn toward your left. For lefties, that’s reversed.

Right- or left-handed, you can easily turn 90 degrees toward the arm holding your bow or gun, even while seated. Turn radius toward your draw or trigger arm is just 5 or 10 degrees.


These five treestand considerations all relate to the physical setup of the stand. Safety and comfort are the two most important aspects of the setup, assuming you are hunting somewhere frequented by whitetails.

There are plenty of strategies and considerations related to selecting the best place to hang a stand, but that’s an article for another day.

If you’re safe and comfortable, you’ll spend more time in the stand, and you’ll be less visible because you’ll be still and quiet. Without these setup basics, you won’t get a buck from the best location on the planet.

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This article was published in the August 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd