Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Its a Good Time to Buy Your Hunting Equipment

Hang on Treestands

Utilizing hang on treestands can be an effective way to hunt deer. In some occasions a hang-on, or chain-on, tree stand is a good option. If you own, or similar, the property you hunt having a stand semi permanently in place means you won't need to carry a stand in each time you hunt, and you'll go in faster and quieter. If you are trying to decide which treestand style to use, have a look at this page.

Points to look at before buying

1. Weight. Setting up a heavy hang on treestands is immeasurably more difficult than setting up a light one. After setting up several 28 lb. hang on treestands I now laugh at hang on treestands for sale that weigh more than around 21 lbs.

I put weight first because there is no reason to buy a hang on stand that weighs more than around 21 lbs; they are very difficult and dangerous to put up when they are heavy.
Any of these other criteria could be debatable for hang on treestands but not weight.

2. Price. Hang-on treestands can range in price from $50 to $250. What do you get for the price difference, since they are all just a few metal tubes and mesh? Lightness, build quality, and lightness with size.

An all metal treestands should last just about forever (the straps won't). So price should not be your biggest concern when buying a stand. Say you buy 3-4 per 40 acres you hunt, and you won't need to buy them ever again. Staying safe and comfortable should be your main concern when buying the item that holds you way up a tree.
Save money elsewhere.

4. Seats. There are generally two seat styles: a hanging mesh or cushion and a metal platform with an optional cushion. I prefer the seats with a metal frame and mesh covering, with an optional foam cushion. The other two common seat types are a metal frame with a foam cushion that is not optional and hanging mesh.

I'd like to point out an example of a poor seat. Big Game Treestands' hang on treestands look great. They are relatively inexpensive, you can get a big one that weighs 20 lbs. (not bad), some have footrests, and they have wide platforms, (I particularly like how they are wide and square at the back). But the seat is a small tubed frame (a good start), but instead of a metal mesh over the frame, like other stands, they are just tube frames. you need the cushion to sit on this seat. If you carry the cushion each time you: have more to carry, make noise when you attach the Velcro, and need to spend time messing with the cushion attaching. If you leave the cushion up, then squirrels will eat it and it will get soggy when it rains.

The Rivers Edge hang-o treestands look as good as the Big Game stands, but they are heavy and have the same seat problem.

If Big Game adds the mesh, so that the cushion is optional, then I would recommend them; even if they are on the heavy side of acceptable. Until then buy something else.

5. Size. A small platform can be uncomfortable to sit in, but they are lighter. If you want big and light you may need to pay a bit more.

I suggest getting the biggest hang-on treestands from whatever company you like. But not at the expense of going over around 21 lbs. Bigger is better and more comfortable.

6. Strap or chain. Hang-on treestands are attached to the tree by a seat belt like strap or a chain. The straps attach tighter but need to be replaced every so often. Some hunters replace the straps with chains in order to be safer. This may not be a deciding factor since you can change the strap to whatever you like easily enough.

Some hang on treestands have straps with metal hooks and little plastic safety things to prevent the hook from coming off as easily. I suggest busting the plastic thing off one hook so that you can get it on or off while you are up the tree.

7. Footrests. If you've never sat in a stand with a footrest, then you'd be surprised at how much more comfortable they can be. Some manufacturers offer optional footrests. I would only consider footrests before a purchase if the two stands were otherwise identical.

8. Attachment brackets. Some stands offer brackets for attachments to the tree and then adding the stand. I have not tried one of these but they seem needlessly complicated, with needing to line up a bracket rather than a strap not being an improvement anyway.

9. Armrests. If you hunt with a gun they are okay. If you hunt with a bow they get in the way.

Which hang-on to buy

My ideal hang-on would have a long wide platform, a metal tube and mesh topped seat, a footrest all across the front, be square to the back, and weigh less than 16lbs.

There once was a stand that, more or less, met that criteria. They were the last version of Gorilla: King Kong treestands. But they are no longer made.

Maximum Comfort

The more comfortable you are in a tree the longer you'll hunt. I recommend this Gorilla: King Kong Expedition HX treestand ($150). This stand is very comfortable, with a sizable platform, a footrest, and a very comfortable seat.

The problem I see with this stand, and all stands with big hanging seats, is that a big seat makes it harder to go from sitting to standing. Secondly, if you are right handed shooting in front or to the left is easy, but if you need to shoot to the right you need to turn in your seat. With a small hard seat this is easy. With a big deep seat you need to go up and over the side in order to turn.

Maximum Hunting Efficiency

Short of the old Gorilla hang on treestands, my vote for the best currently manufactured hang on treestands are the Lone Wolf: Alpha Hang-On II.

These hang on treestands are very light, very quiet, very easy to set up, has an excellent seat (with stupid cushion attaching Velcro), and a good size. It is $250; for which it better be good. If your goal is to be maximally efficient while hunting hang-on treestands. Get this one, its clearly the best.

There are some other good hang on treestands which you may look at, the biggest, armrest-free, Gorilla, looks fine but is inferior to the Alpha Hang-on II.

Which climbing steps should you get?

For me there is only one option: Rivers Edge 15' or 20' Double Rung Climbing Aid or Rapid Stick..

These are 3 (for 15') or 4 (for 20') square metal tubes with rungs on both sides. (With alternating rungs, where do you put your other foot when you are hanging a stand?) I could probably run up and down one of these sticks, in the dark, with one hand behind my back.

I've tried the similar Big Game stick but they seem to have forgot to take the metal burs off the metal tubes, I've torn clothes, and me on them; their straps are also colossally awful, I don't think that whoever picked those straps has ever been up a tree. (I wish to curse whoever picked those straps with the hellish task of using that stick and those stupid straps.)

One other product that you should avoid is the Ameristep Rapid Rails. These are awful. There are several other companies making similar steps, they are all bad. I suppose if I had only one leg...they'd be better, but still awful. A narrow ladder with sides on both sides of the rungs leaves room for only one foot. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you are hanging the stand you need to put your other foot somewhere; ideally, helping hold the stand up while you arrange the strap. They also stick out a long way from the tree, this means you need to lean around them to hang a stand. These rapid rails are the worst hunting product I've ever experienced.

How to set up hang-on treestands

If you've just bought new hang on treestands, or sticks, you may need to assemble it with a few bolts. I recommend doing this at home so that you are sure you have the wrenches and don't lose nuts.

Setting up your hang on treestands a few weeks before the season is a good idea because it is a bit noisy. Because its a hang-on you only need to do this once a season.

Once you've arrive at your tree. You should arrange all the straps on the ground. I like to have the attached end on the same side all the way up the stick. Make sure that you have enough strap before you go up so you have one less thing do do when you are up the tree. Make sure the straps are in good shape before you use them. They are all that hold you to the tree.

Plan where you want the stand to point. If you are right handed you want the left and front to face where you think the deer will be. The sticks should be perpendicular to the stand, out either side.

Trees aren't quite straight. So, put the first stick on loosely. Put the second stick on, tighten it, and then tighten the bottom stick. Do the rest the same as the second. I like them in there as solid as possible even though they will be hard to remove later.

If you have the Rivers Edge Rapid Stick, like I recommend, you can stand on one rung and balance the stand on your other knee which can be hooked around another rung. Put it on wherever you can get it, mine often have the stand floor at the same height as the second highest stick rung. Often if you stomp on the hang on treestands with a free foot you can tighten the stand a bit more.


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