The Tops in Tree Stands

The right tree stand placed in the right spot is a major key to hunting success. Here's what these select models have to offer the hunter for 2007. (August 2007)

Over the past two decades there has been tremendous improvement in the technology and materials used in just about every kind of hunting equipment, including tree stands. In fact, today's stands are a perfect example of the advancements that this industry has orchestrated in recent years. Tree stands are quieter, lighter, easier to put up, more comfortable and safer than ever before.

Not only are stands built with better materials and designed for easy setup, but there also has been increased attention to the details that make your time in an elevated hunting position more enjoyable, which increases your stamina.

Another problem that's been successfully addressed is placing a fixed-position stand in crooked or leaning trees, which are common in my neck of the woods. Several manufacturers' stands can be placed in virtually any tree big enough to hold your weight.

We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's look at the latest tree stands, both fixed-position and climbers, available from the major tree stand manufacturers.

But first a word about safety. Most manufacturers now include a safety harness with their tree stands; wear it. Or purchase a more elaborate model from companies like Summit (Seat-O-The-Pants) or Hunter Safety System. Don't hunt without it. Don't take the chance that your friends or family will find you in a heap at the bottom of your tree. Wear a harness for them, if not for yourself.

Ameristep's The Hitman

Ameristep

The Hitman from Ameristep is an aluminum climber that weighs in at only 20 1/2 pounds. It's compact and streamlined, with accessory ports for attaching gun or bow holders and knobs for hanging things like binoculars and rattling antlers. A speed cable locking system helps you get started, and braces on the lower platform secure your feet.

The Rock is a unique fixed-position stand with an A-frame lower brace that allows you to use this stand on trees leaning at severe angles, even sideways. The totally separate seat section can be set to the desired seat height -- a welcome option for 6-foot-5-inch long-legged hunters like me! The Rock, made of aluminum, weighs 18 1/2 pounds. Contact: (810) 686-4035 or www.ameristep.com.

API's Grandstand Master

API

The API Grand Slam Star Extreme climber allows you to use the stand-up, sit-down climbing technique, but quickly and easily converts to either a bowhunting or gun-hunting configuration. The seat section has a Quick Attach feature and fits snugly into the Sure-Gripfoot platform when being transported. Weighing 23 pounds, it's rated for 300 pounds.

The Grandstand Master fixed-position stand is also constructed of aluminum, and at only 13 pounds, it's a great stand to haul deep into the woods. A stabilizer T-Screw helps you hang this stand with little commotion, and a strap-and-buckle attachment contributes to a quiet, covert hunting operation. Contact: 1-800-228-4846, ext. 110, or www.apioutdoors.com.

Big Game Tree Stand's Boss XL

Big Game Tree Stands
Big Game Tree Stands doesn't make a climber, but the company's Boss XL fixed-position stand has a large 34-by-25-inch platform and a huge, removable padded seat. A steel stand that weighs only 20 pounds, it's rated for a 300-pound hunter. The Boss XL attaches with a 2-inch strap and cam-lock buckle.

Though I'm not specifically covering the very good ladder stands that Big Game also makes, I did want to mention the Sky-Rise 20-foot ladder stand, new this year. Notable for its considerable height, this stand rated for 500 pounds is made for two hunters, so you can take your spouse or youngster along. Double-rail ladder sections and a support bar make this a solid stand. Contact: 1-800-268-5077 or www.big-gameusa.com.

Cabela's The Bowhunter Hang-On

Cabela's

The Bowhunter Hang-On from Cabela's is a serious stand that'll keep you comfortable in a tree without causing discomfort to your budget. A large platform measuring 24 by 19 inches gives you plenty of room to maneuver, and the sling-style padded seat flips up to give you even more space. Rated for 250 pounds, this stand weighing in at 23 pounds is tough and strong enough to withstand the use and abuse of real-world hunting. It comes with a footrest; two ratchet straps secure the stand to the tree. It costs about $80. Contact: 1-800-237-4444 or www.cabelas.com.

Gorilla's Pro-Series Greyback Deluxe Hunter

Gorilla

The new Pro-Series Greyback Deluxe Hunter from Gorilla is a versatile climber that packs a lot of features into a 22-pound stand. The new Gorilla Grip Pivoting Arms adjust to trees from 8 to 20 inches in diameter, the Zero-G seat is suspended for comfort, and the stand is covered in SilenTech Coating to reduce noise. The bar converts from a gun rest to footrest for bowhunters; two detachable gear bags provide storage.

The newest fixed-position stand at Gorilla is the Pro-Series King Kong. This well-designed stand also features the SilenTech coating, Zero-G seat and a padded backrest, which contributes greatly to stealth. This aluminum stand includes a Toe-Through footrest. The whole package weighs 20 pounds. Contact: (810) 733-6360 or www.gorillatreestands.com.

Innovative Tree Stand's The Leveler

Innovative Tree Stands

This relatively new tree stand manufacturer offers an extremely versatile hang-on stand called The Leveler. Designed to be set up in almost any tree, The Leveler uses telescoping tubes, two at the top and two at the base, that are adjusted independently. This allows you to adapt the stand to trees that lean or have irregular shape. The platform can also be leveled by adjusting a "cable bolt" to the desired position. The seat height is also adjustable from 18 to 28 inches and, incredibly, this stand weighs only 9 1/2 pounds! Another version, The Mag Leveler, features a larger platform and seat but weighs just a pound more.

This company also makes a Flex-E-Ladder that form fits to leaning or curved trees. Contact: (815) 725-7268 or www.innovativetreestands.com.

Loggy Bayou's Mega Transformer Pro

Loggy Bayou

The Mega Transformer Pro from Loggy Bayou does exactly what its name suggests. It can be transformed to match the season, bow or gun, and its rubber-like coating (called "Silent Skin") will dampen noise in any season. A new Sliding Toebar adjusts to the size of your boots and the padded seat and backrest will keep you comfy on those long days in the stand. The Shur-Lok cable system makes this stand easy to adjust for virtually any tree. Weighing only 22 pounds, it's rated for 300 pounds.

Loggy Bayou's newest hang-on, the Predator Pro, weighs only 11 pounds. Its most useful feature is the Equalizer Leveling System, which enables both the stand and the seat to be leveled for use on leaning trees. The Uni-Grid platform is quiet and solid. Contact: (870) 881-9937 or www.loggybayou.com.

Lone Wolf

The most distinctive feature of a Lone Wolf tree stand is the one-piece cast-aluminum platform. Without welds or hollow tubes, Lone Wolf stands are extremely quiet and rugged. The Alpha Sit & Climb has a 30-inch platform, fits trees from 6 to 19 inches in diameter, and is rated for a hefty 350 pounds. A unique Traction Belt secures the stand to the tree, adjusting with a Cam-Action fastening system. Weighing only 18 pounds, this stand features a two-panel cushion seat.

The largest platform ever offered by Lone Wolf is the first thing you'll notice about their new Elite Hang-On stand. It measures 36x24 inches and it's still one-piece cast aluminum. The seat too is oversized, with two panels of cushioning to make your hours in the stand more comfortable. The Elite weighs 20 pounds and folds into a low profile for packing. Contact: (309) 693-9653 or www.lonewolfstands.com.

Lone Wolf's Elite Hang-On

Ol' Man Tree Stands

The Ol' Man Aluminum Multi-Vision Pro climber features their ComforTech Seating System, a web seat that's long been a favorite of hunters. This stand is available in three configurations: open front; with the Ol' Man Bar; or with the Vision Bar. The weight ranges from 17 to 18 pounds, depending on how it's set up, and is rated for 250 pounds.

In the hang-on department, Ol' Man offers The Roost, a steel stand with a chain-on attachment system that helps you get it up quickly. Of course, the time-tested web seat is still there. It's comfortable and slides out of the way when necessary. The Roost weighs 16 1/2 pounds, or 18 pounds with the footrest. Contact: 1-888-656-2606 or www.olmanoutdoors.com.

The River's Edge Big Foot XL Extreme

River's Edge

A flexible attachment system contributes to fast and easy setup with the River's Edge Timber Claw Climber. Their "Claw Bite" blades bite into trees from 8 to 20 inches in diameter and the padded seat, backrest and armrests make this aluminum stand very comfortable. This roomy stand weighs 29 pounds.

The River's Edge Big Foot XL Extreme fixed-position stand has a huge platform measuring 30 by 24 inches. A new padded seat and backrest will keep you comfortable and eliminate the noise of your back rubbing against tree bark. Armrests contribute to your stamina but also flip up out of the way when appropriate. A "lever-action" mounting system locks it on solid. Contact: 1-800-450-3343 or www.ardisam.com.

Summit's Copperhead Compact

Summit

The flagship climber at Summit Tree Stands is the Viper SS, a stand held together by their SummitLokt construction that both mechanically locks and welds the aluminum sections together. Once you use the QuickDraw cable retention system to get this stand set up, the patented RapidClimb stirrups make ascending the tree quick and easy. The suspended seat and backrest can be easily adjusted for height. Although the stand is rated for 300 pounds, it only weighs 20.

One of my favorites among Summit's wide array of tree stands is the Copperhead Compact. The newest version of the Copperhead folds flat, so it's easier to pack on your back. The strap/receiver-bracket hanging system makes this stand very easy to put up; it can be adjusted instantly to work on trees that lean, and its thick, triangular seat is removable. This stand weighs in at only 12 pounds. Contact: (256) 353-0634 or www.summitstands.com.

T-Buck's Total Buck System

T-Buck

"Unique" is the best word to describe the T-Buck Total Buck System. This "ladder/tree stand" is designed with safety as the top priority. When setting up or hunting from this system, you're always belted in and completely safe.

After assembling the ladder sections -- available in 15- and 20-foot versions -- you simply set it up against your tree. Fasten the lower ladder section to the tree with ratchet straps, connect the included safety harness to the ladder, and then work your way up. Once the ladder is attached, raise the platform section with a pulley system. With your safety harness attached, you climb up and fasten the platform section to the tree -- and you're set. As you hunt, you climb the ladder and through a "hatch" in the platform.

Once in the T-Buck, you have a large 39-by-31-inch platform to stand on, and an oversized web-style seat for comfort. Options include deluxe seat, shooting rail and blind or roof kits. Contact: 1-888-556-1410 or www.t-buck.com.

Timbertall's Baby Lite Climber

Timbertall

This Pennsylvania tree stand manufacturer has a climber that weighs only 12 pounds! The Timbertall Baby Lite climber, constructed of aluminum, features a self-leveling system that allows you to adjust the level of your platform while it's in use.

The suspended seat and backrest are completely adjustable. This stand backpacks easily and goes up quickly and quietly. Contact: (570) 837-1775 or www.timbertall.com.

Obviously, countless more options are available from these and other tree stand manufacturers, including ladder stands, tripods and varying versions of the stands already mentioned. Whichever tree stand you choose, rest assured you'll be comfortable and safe -- as long as you don't forget your safety harness!

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