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February 13, 2008

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Out of the Trees

When I began deer hunting some 35 years ago, the tree stand as we know it today didn’t really exist. At least, not in my neck of the woods. The tree stands of my era were jerry-rigged wooden affairs quickly nailed into the cross limbs of a trees. The steps were crude wooden hunks imprecisely nailed (often with a single nail in the center of the step). As these steps weathered, the nail would work lose, often turning the step into a swivel, which sent the hunter down the trunk in a hurry. Condoblind1

Most of the time, though, I hunted on the ground. Stump sitting, we called it. You’d find a likely place in the woods and plant your butt on a stump or against a tree trunk and wait…and wait…and wait.

As a young hunter just coming to grips with scent and wind, I often heard deer moving away from me, and I all-too-often saw the characteristic white flag of a whitetail in hasty retreat.

Later, as I gained experience and started hunting in other parts of the country I encountered ladder and tripod stands, which had the distinct advantage of keeping my scent above a deer as well as offering a better view. Over the years, stand height increased. I went from 12 to 20 feet, and one hunter I know built an extension ladder to his stand so he can sit 30 feet above the forest floor.
Lately, I’ve noticed some new products designed to put us back on the ground. These range from chairs with camo flaps, to full-fledged camo blinds that resemble outfitter tents. I’ve even seen some with scent-control fabric.

The product shown here, from Fargason Outdoor Technologies (scentite.com), is The Tent Chair Blind Condo, a two-hunter blind that sets up quickly by unfolding the built-in full-size folding chair and pulling the water-resistant camo outer shell over you and your partner. Inside, hunters will find armrests and cup holders as well as a pair of storage pockets for calls, scents and snacks. Large side windows help waiting hunters track approaching game. $179.

What do you think? Would you prefer to stay up in the trees or come back to earth?

—Slaton White


Chris H.

I must say that I have had some luck hunting from the ground but nothing like an elevated position. I use a climbing stand and climb as high as I can unless it put sapling tree tops in my way. I like climbing stands because I can set up just about any where. In SC there is almost always a tree somewhere that give me a better vantage point than sitting on the ground could. The only time I hunt from the ground is when I find good sign but nothing to climb.

B. Cameron

I tend to split my time between stumps and stands... I've had decent luck with both. When I'm stumping, I tend to find a nice little nook on the lee side of a pine or nestled into some low shrubs where I have no outline and some decent shelter from wind. Finding a stand? We've got them scattered across the hunting land, and they are nice for getting up a little higher and getting a better view. Flip side - here in upstate NY, shotguns are the rule, so shots over 75 or 100 yards begin to be a stretch - even with a rifled barrel and sabots. However... With a cornfield that's 400 yards or more long, it's certainly easier to start stalking game if you don't have to clank your way down a metal ladder...

Sid Lark

Every year the number of deaths and injuries due to tree stand useage out number those caused by firearms. That says a lot I think.

Of course the makers of tree stands have been successful in selling us on the idea that we must use tree stands if we desire to be successful. As a result what we have today is a multi-million dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing.

Tree stands have their place I guess but there is a lot that can be said for staying earth-bound.


My family has always been a bunch of stump sitters. As I get older and having obtained a bad leg from a stroke I look more and more at ground blinds as I can't walk much anymore. I was priceing one recently when my young nephew asked why the law said we had to wear blaze orange in our home state of Michigan if we were going to hide inside a green camo tent where another hunter couldn't see us anyway. I didn't have an answer, but now that I think of it, does anyone make a Blaze Orange camo blind like the one featured in your article.


It wouldn't be hard to affix a bit of Blaze Orange surveyor's tape to your pop-up, I did!

I like sitting up off the ground. I have a box blind that sits up off the ground on sawhorses. They are 32" high, giving me a line of sight approximately 8' above ground level. It doesn't take much elevation to really make a difference!



The older I get the more the ground hunting is starting to appeal to me.

I've pretty much switched from hang on to ladder stands and I do a bit of ground blind hunting now as well.

The chair blind that you have pictured is kind of hard to hunt out of. It's hard to turn and get shots out of the side windows and forget behind you, it isn't going to happen.

I think it's a good idea that just needs some "tweaking".



You are right jim, put a swivel bucket dove stool in it and minimal effort to see out the back. Also, Slayton- Baker stands were in use in the early 60's. Out of business now but they are the ones most imitated now.



The first treestand I ever owned was a baker. Man, have treestands come a long way since then. If you weren't careful with them, a baker would give you quite a ride down the tree!

I do have many fond memories of hunting out of one.



My first "tree stand" was an angle iron frame constructed in the railroad shops of my hometown! There were two angle iron braces bolted to the side. the frame was lag bolted to a tree and the braces lag bolted to the tree to hold it steady. The frame was 3X3 and 2x6 were cut to fill in the frame. To access the stand, 60d nails were driven half way into the tree for steps! Killed lots of deer out of them. Can't say they did alot for the tree but I don't remember that any of the trees died due to the stand and steps!


steve thompson

Years ago there was'nt much need for treestands,there was'nt many deer, and bowhunters were a rare breed .Today we have many choices in stand set ups and all have thier own merits.Bow hunting dictates to me climbing stands,blinds are more suitable for teaching young hunters . Todays tree stand models hard to beat for comfort and long sits. Stump hunting has its own merits move freely and quietly to different stations .TO give DEEPWOODS an answer on the orange question? the only time i fear being in the woods is when i know other hunters may be around in low light conditions if i don't have a flashlight to flick then i'll flick a lighter , orange is for when you move .FOR SAFETY KEEP IT ON .6PHUNTER

william traweek

Nails may not kill trees but they play havoc with wood processors saw blades.