There are dozens of ways to hunt out of a tree, but the one I hate the most has to be a hang on stand.
Of course, they are inexpensive, so that should be counted as a benefit. Although, when you get up there, I predict you’re gonna find yourself saying “Man, I wish I’d spent just a little more…”
You also have to pay for portable climbing sticks unless you use screw-in steps. Besides the price, there is not much to like about hang on treestands, at least in my opinion.
Here are just a few reasons why I do not use them.
Hanging Them Takes Work
While it’s even possible to hang them by yourself, putting these hang on stands in trees is a lot of work. I’d estimate it can take 20 to 30 minutes to hang a stand. The length and difficulty of the process depends on your climbing method, too. If you are using climbing sticks, you’ll need to hang those first and pull the stand up with a length of rope (like you would with a bow) once you reach the height you want.
Then you have to make absolutely sure that the stand is secure and not going anywhere. How can you be sure without actually sitting in it? It’s a test I’m leery about taking.
No matter how you do it, it’s going to take time and effort. Even though you’ll hear hunters recommend a hang on stand for a run and gun situation, I’d argue they’re less appropriate for that style than you’d think. Ideally, have your spot planned out and hung before you ever go into the woods for a hunt. If that is the case, why not use a ladder stand?
If you do run and gun with a hang on, color me impressed. In my opinion, I think you would find hunting with a saddle is way easier and much more suitable to that type of hunting. Plus, you can climb the tree the same way too, just more efficiently.
They Are a Little Less Safe
Compared to a saddle, climber, or ladder stand, hang on’s are just not as safe in my opinion. Of course, there is plenty to be said about the safety of the actual climb up the tree, but it needs to be safe while you are up there, too. I also do not think they are super risky to be in. To clarify, I do not think hang on stands are unsafe, just less safe than the alternatives.
As long as you correctly hang your hang on treestand, there shouldn’t be any problems with it falling from the tree. While it is possible, that’s not what makes them less safe in my mind. Hopefully, you wear a safety harness while you are in the tree, but in general, there is just not a lot of reinforcement to a hang on treestand that keeps you from falling.
For example, a climber has a bar wrapped around you for the top piece. Most of those are lower so you can still use a bow, but there’s a chance you would hit it with your leg. It almost gets in the way. If you are in a ladder stand, you have much more room to step around, and most times you will have a shooting rail that can be flipped up and out of the way.
I always find myself having to be a little more cautious while in a hang on stand. I wouldn’t say that I am scared of heights, but when I get up there it seems like there is barely anything between me and the ground. I stay as close to that tree as possible, and the safety factor is one more thing to take my focus away from the task at hand.
They Just Aren’t Comfortable
Every time I have been in a hang on, it’s been one with a stretched-out mesh seat. Some of those are nice and are not too bad to sit on, but many of them are too small for my frame. Plus, you do not get anything but a tree for your back to rest on. That makes it hard to relax if you want to, compared to the seat’s back on a ladder stand.
The next thing is the size of the platform. Hang ons are typically used for bowhunting since there is not a shooting rail, but for me, it is pretty tough to move around up there. The platforms are often too small and do not give you a lot of room to move your feet when taking a shot.
The climb can make or break a hang on stand. If you have a sketchy climb, that treestand is not going to be fun. I have hunted with guys before who point me in the direction of one of their hang on, and when I get there it is made up of screw-in steps that are too far apart, and the stand is almost impossible to get into.
It is a miracle I got out of those stands, because I was convinced I was never climbing down once I got up there…
Is this old anecdote the source of my hang on hate? Probably.
Of course, your climb can also be very safe. You can use reasonably-spaced climbing sticks and wear a lineman’s belt, an awesome way to get up the tree that is super safe. You can also use a drop down rope with a sliding knot that hooks into your safety harness for bonus measures.
However, if you are using screw-in steps, it is almost like a stand that only one person can use. Unless you add many extra steps, someone just a few inches shorter than you, or a little less flexibility, is going to have an issue.
I’d Rather Have a Ladder
We’ve determined the best use case for a hang on treestand is to have them set up ahead of time. It’s not the kind of stand you want to run and gun with; a saddle or even a climber would be much better for that.
I prefer to use a ladder. It is a lot easier to get in and out of, plus they are much more comfortable, all while staying reasonably priced.
You can get an awesome single person ladder stand for less than what you would pay for most mid-tier hang ons, and you do not have to buy climbing sticks. I have bowhunted out of a few single person ladder stands, and they are all great. The comfortable seat flips up for bowhunting, and there is even a shooting rail for rifle season that also flips up if needed.
If you’ve come around to my way of thinking, check one out like this one from Big Game Hunter, available at Cabela’s, and thank me later.
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