Contributors to this thread:
Treestand - fear of heights!
I'm a relatively new bowhunter (for white tail deer) and I've been hunting from the ground the past two seasons. A friend let me use his ladder stand this morning. Probably 16' off the ground. I got up there for 20 minutes, then had to climb back down. I had my harness on and all. The seat doesn't have any arm rests or anything around you.
Maybe I'm a wimp, or I have fear of heights, but I just couldn't stand it. It's too bad because he just got a buck out of that stand last night so it's a decent spot.
Am I the only one that feels terror while seated up there? I do have a Viper climber that I've used once or twice. For some reason I didn't have the same nervousness, maybe because the climber has that big metal hoop all around you and you feel kind of protected, and of course I can stop at whatever height; I've never gone more than about 10' up.
I guess I'll just keep hunting from the ground, hidden behind bushes, or in my ground blind. I'm not a very successful hunter, but from what I hear, it's the original way to hunt so maybe some day I'll be a good hunter because of it :)
I think there is lots of people that feel the same as you. Some stands feel better than others no doubt about it. You keep hunting the way that makes you feel good and you will continue to grow as a hunter Good luck
I like hunting on the ground. I'm just not comfortable on a pissy little platform up in a tree. I have done a sit in a ladder stand and that was better. However, I just like it on the ground.
I set my tree stands so I can get in to them without steps or a ladder. In other words I hunt where I am comfortable. I use terrain to my advantage. I do have a ladder stand but I found I was not comfortable standing to take a shot. Sitting shots worked fine but it was no where as enjoyable as sitting in the brush or a ground blind. Tree hunters will take more deer but I am am willing to go with comfort and safety.
First off, there are LOTS of people who are very successful hunting from the ground. So there's absolutely nothing wrong with ditching elevated hunting. In fact, it's probably more rewarding to take a deer, any deer, when it's ten yards from you at eye-level. That said, few suggestions:
1. Stay connected to the tree/stand at all times. While it can be un-nerving staring down at the ground from 15+ feet, at least if you have the tether, it will help reduce that fear of "I'm going to fall"
2. Practice. While I know we're pretty much in the peak of the hunting seasons, but just getting elevated and sitting for periods of time will help you just get used to sitting off the ground. It may be easier to do this sans weapon than trying to combine acclimation and hunting, as being in the act of hunting does add another layer of potential anxiety. So consider the off-season as a good time to just climb and sit and let your mind/body get used to that type of outing.
3. Consider the "wrap around" bars as part of a stand setup. It can definitely help having that enclosure from a mental perspective. Keep in mind, though, that the bar needs to be considered if you're actually bowhunting. Lots of stories where guys don't actually think about that bar, and then when the moment of truth comes, the bar gets in the way of the bow, and the shot gets muffed.
You are not a wus. I've been whitetail hunting for almost 40 years and depending on the set up, it can make me feel a little funny. I got a small run and gun hang on stand with sticks before the season and used it about 10 days ago way up in an unfamiliar tree and farm and I did not have a good feeling when I was up in it. I was likely a bit higher than I should have been but I had "that feeling" and I did not like it. I think it will get better when I use the smaller platform more,,, I hope! Keep hunting!!!!
About two weeks ago I pulled a hang-on and stick ladder to relocate it to another tree. As I was tying the stick ladder against the new tree, I got a funny feeling about the set-up. I just wasn't feeling it....not sure what came over me. I didn't get a warm-n-fuzzy. I've been doing hang-ons for alot of years. I pulled the stick ladder back down and brought it and the hang-on back home. I went back a few days later and put up a 20' X-Stand ladder stand on the same tree.
About 9 years ago I tried to get the wife into a hang-on with a second one next to it. We were going to sit together. She got about 6' off the ground and froze to the tree. She had a panic attack and I had to pry her off the tree to get her back to the ground. That was the end of her tree stand experience.
Practice from a hang-on two feet off the ground. When you are comfortable, go to 4 feet. Keep practicing and gradually moving up until you are at least 10-12' and you should be good to hunt depending on the trees in your area and the surrounding cover. Getting comfortable at hunting heights just comes from experience and confidence in your safety system.
If its something you want to try to over come, try this. Off season practice sessions, hang a tree stand just a foot up off the ground. Stand on that for your practice, rather than just standing in your yard. Gets you used foot placement, balance, and drawing while standing on a platform. Once you learn you can do it, work your way higher. Wear harness when you reach a point that a fall could hurt.
I don't do this practice much anymore, but used to. I'm fairly comfortable off the ground. The first sit of each season usually has a little more tree clutching than the rest of the year.
Lost Arra , we were typing at the same time. Good idea.
A climber could be an option, but sitting on the end of it to climb up could pose a problem; I think they're the most comfortable and nothing beats a little nap when the sun hits your face. But with a fear of heights you likely won't feel comfortable, no matter the stand type. I had a buddy that fell this spring when one of the straps on his ladder snapped.
consider only using one section of the Ladder Stand - 8 to 10 ft. off the ground. At that lower height, keeping your movements to a minimum and having some kind of background cover, will become more important.
I hate heights but it’s mostly that I don’t trust the steps when going up or stand itself. I’ve shot all my deer just 12 feet high so it’s very possible. I tried a saddle first time this year and felt very comfortable with the gear not failing so that’s an option. I also do not like putting a hang on on anything but a hemlock with branches.
I'd try a saddle setup. You are always connected to the tree... lineman belt on way up and the tether/saddle once up. Pretty solid.
Try the "double man" ladder stands. Last I knew $100 from Walmart. Wrap around bar and sides. 16 feet high. I love them. Lots of room, safe and you can stretch out.
I think it's normal to feel that way when you are new and even more so when it's someone else's stand. What you need is someone with a lot of experience to show you the ropes and get more comfortable with it.
"I've never gone more than about 10' up."
IMHO, fearful wimp. But don't worry you'll find comforting brethern on the Leatherwall.
Go Rock Climbing! and learn to fall and trust your gear. I'm sure there is at least a climbing wall within driving distance!!
I don't like heights at all but have rock climbed plenty to know how to handle it. When I am connected my fear goes away. all the lock on stands at my buddies lease have safety lines attached so you are never free. Easy to go to 15-20' when you have confidence.
Used to take some stupid chances long ago, like a 2x6 nailed between two trees. Now only use ladder stands and 12 ft. is high. These nose bleed stands will probably guarantee you will not get two lungs.
I don’t particularly like hang on stands. Falling out of two has kinda tainted my desire to be in them. I still used them up until mid season last year but, as a last resort.
I bought a saddle in early 2019. I actually used it the whole season last year. I truly believe the reason I have totally went away from hang ones is how safe I feel in a saddle. I’m always connected to the tree. I’m at ease no matter the height because I’m engaging the tree at all times. I always have my hands on it. And, there is Always at least one safety attached while using a saddle. And, I simply like everything about it in comparison to a hang on.
In all fairness, I’m not truly afraid of heights. I also use a summit viper quite a bit too. With zero hesitation or fear. And, in all likelihood, my feeling of hang on stands is due to getting older, previous falls, and my lack of use of safety restraints while using them in the past. My knees are in pretty bad shape from ball and those falls. So, I know another would be very painful and take a long time to get over.
So, I’d stick to my climber and practice. For most, a fear of heights at tree stand level is something that can be easily beaten with exposure. So, get that climber out and practice, practice, and practice with it. Until you are familiar with it that comfort comes naturally. And try a saddle. I promise with the demand for them, you can sell it for every penny you pay if you can’t make it work. Lots of guys on saddle hunter paying more then new to get a used one timely. Instead of waiting 2 months on it.
Good luck and God Bless
I have a bud who can’t do heights. He try’s to find double trunk trees or side by side trees so he has something beside him he can touch. Kinda like a point of reference.
I’m not crazy about ladders or tripods at my age, but it’s the getting in and out that I don’t like. I’m fine sitting there. I’ve never even tried a hang-on in my life although I did use a climber when I was younger. They were just too noisy for me. I made my own ground blinds and have hunted out of pop-ups many times for deer and antelope.
Purchase a lifeline or even make your own. As soon as your feet leave the ground your connected to the tree and can't fall
Tremendous help, Wild Bill! I see you’re from Connecticut. Maybe you and GF could hook up and compare notes.
I can’t relate to your fears, Joe, but I hope you get to where you feel comfortable in whatever solution you figure out.
Lifeline is great. It will keep you from hitting the ground, but can still be a kind of nasty fall into your harness, depending how much slack is in the system at the moment of the fall. I second the vote for the saddle—can be run in such a way that lines are tight (no slack, or nearly no slack) at all times. I’m not too fond of heights either, and this is my first year with the saddle—feel more at ease in the tree than with any other setup.
I’m scared to death in a tree stand unless I have a bar in front of me then I’m fine. With the front bar I can actually hang out over the stand. Kind of weird but the front bar makes all the difference.
I am afraid of heights as well. I do hunt in stands but my comfort level does diminish the higher I go...and it's has gotten worse as I get older. 12 feet I am very comfortable with, anything higher poses problems. For me the trouble is getting the nerve to climb up the damn ladder. Once I am in there it takes a 15 -20 minutes to get used to it and I'm cool. I will say the bigger the stand the better I feel, so I opt for the two man stand.
I hate heights and I use tree spikes and branches and swing through trees like Tarzan to go into the clouds if it's the right set up. Whitetail deer make men do silly things.
Lots of great advice here. Thanks, all! I guess I'll be practicing all next summer in my back yard. Meantime will stick to still hunting for the rest of the season. -JT
I was in your shoes a long time ago. I had spent lots of hours in trees when I was a kid, and painted the outside of our farm house when I was 14, using all of a ten foot ladder and painting with both hands so I didn't have to get down and move the ladder so often.
Then about a year later, when the need came up to get on another ladder, I couldn't bring myself to get past about the second rung, and could barely turn loose of the sides even then. No traumatic event had occurred, just suddenly couldn't help the feeling that I would surely fall. I could walk around on the roof, but when I got within about eight feet of the edge, I had to get down and scoot over to the edge and the job of turning around and scooting backwards onto the ladder to get down was a terrifying trial.
First several years of my hunting life was spent on the ground. Finally got so tired of seeing mostly the tails of deer as they flagged and went over the next hill, that I bought a used Baker with a seat climber .
Carried that thing into the woods with me every time I went bowhunting the next year, didn't put it on a tree once. Always intended to, always ran out of nerve and left it leaning against a tree to pick it up on the way out.
The second year I carried it into the woods again, and went so far as to strap it onto a tree, and just as I was finishing that, a young buck walked slowly past me about twenty yards away. I could only watch him, since my bow was behind me on the ground, but the next afternoon I strapped that stand to tree about ten yards closer to the trail that buck had used the evening before, and gradually climbed until I was about twelve feet up. Took me about fifteen minutes to get turned around, then after a while to pull up my bow, and later managed to release my grip on the seat/climber and get ready to shoot.
Luckily, the young buck came up that same trail that afternoon, and was close enough that even my trembling bow hand could settle on him long enough for the shot, and I had my first deer!
By the following season, I had talked myself into practicing climbing with that Scary Old Baker enough to do it without shaking, and could actually get fairly comfortable in it.
Never did fall out of one. Finally had a moment of clarity a good many years later while sitting in a hang-on stand and looking down at the combination of steps that I had used to get up about eighteen feet, and how lucky I had been to never have a failure of any piece of gear that would have let me fall, and when I got down to go to lunch, I went to the sporting goods store and bought a Summit climber and a safety harness, and a few years after that, a lifeline. Since then have always been tethered to the tree from ground to ground, and have kept the tether line short enough so that I can't even lean more than a few degrees from straight up erect while sitting in it. And they are a great place to take a nap on a quiet morning when nothing is moving.
It's worth the terror to face the fear and overcome it. Best way is no doubt to do it more gradually as described above, getting comfy with it close to the ground during the off season, maybe even taking a book and reading for a while six or eight feet up, and definitely using a lifeline and staying tethered the whole time, to make it a familiar part of the process.
We're not all wired to be ironworkers. I still can't even look at those pictures of guys sitting on an I-beam way up on a skyscraper under construction and eating their lunch, without getting that tightness in my stomach feeling the hair on the back of my neck standing up. But I suspect just about any of us can overcome the fear of heights enough to get comfy in a stand at twenty feet while using the proper gear. It still takes some determination and practice, but when you get there, the satisfaction alone makes it worth the effort, and those deer walking past completely unaware of your presence will make it even better.
I hated treestands the first few times I sat them many years ago. Now I am totally comfortable in them. Everyone is different.
You can add a cedar type tree or some kind of bush secured under the platform to help with that nothing but ground way down there feeling. If you get your own cut four to six feet off of it. It will help stiffening it up also. Have fun but be safe most of all.
I'm not a fan of tree stands either.
I like being mobile when hunting so I'm not a fan of ground blinds.
I finally found a nice lite weight blind that is quick and efficient.
I shoot from my knees most of the time anyways so it is just fine for me.
Good luck, Robb
Not easy to get over a fear. But can be achieved. If your not comfortable in a treestand hunt from the ground. I know plenty of guys who only ground hunt, natural blinds ,ground blinds ,stillhunt,etc. Keep the wind good and you can be successful. No sense being uncomfortable when hunting.
Hunting from the ground is simply a matter of developing an effective strategy. I primarily use ground blinds. I suffered a fall 4 years ago and did not want to use a stand. However, I recently got back into a ladder stand. I got rid of all of my stands save one. An aluminum Warren and Sweat portable ladder stand. I've always felt safe in that stand and started using it this year due to the terrain I primarily hunt (swamps). It would be very difficult to fall out of this stand. Nevertheless, I look like a poster child for OSHA-lifeline and all. If you don't feel safe up there, no worries. I hasn't hurt me a bit being on the ground, and I actually prefer it if possible. Good luck.
Will will gain some comfort with time up there. Our stress level is mediated by perception first. So if you start to acclimate from exposure, it will feel more comfortable.
That said... I've been going lower year after year. This year I'm at 12' consistently in my saddle (new to the saddle this year). I've not been picked off by deer once - including one at 2yds from the base of the tree. If you work to pick trees with some back cover or multiple trunks etc, it is a real positive.
We are out there to have fun, if something makes it not fun - use a different strategy.
Many years ago I met a young lady who was terrified of heights. To try and conquer it she went skydiving. She was in the plane with me and my buddy. I never saw her after that but thought that was pretty extreme.
I am 78 years old and not afraid of heights. I have had all kinds of climbers and ladder stands and killed deer from all of them. However, I also love hunting from the ground and have killed many that way. I have ladder stands all over my woods but mainly hunt from a ground blind. It can be pouring rain or snowing and I am cozy inside the ground blind. I even have a heater and a great swivel chair in there. I am lucky that I own my woods and can leave every thing set up. I kill a deer and then go get my Gator to haul it out. I have killed a bunch of deer just hiding in the brush on a neighbors property. Once you kill a few deer you will realize you don't have to be up in a tree. I hunted with a guy in Illinois that would stand in a ditch near a crossing. He had no cover except he was below the deer's sight. He killed lots of deer that way.
I hate heights, and have been hunting lower and lower every year. Last time out I had my climber at a point that made me nervous, huntable but uncomfortable. I stayed at that level for about half hour, then I dropped down just a couple feet lower for the rest of the sit. That made all the difference for some reason. I may start higher for a short time and then drop down as a rule and see it helps.
I've been hunting from treestands for over 20 years and have a very HEALTHY fear of heights! Started with a 12 foot ladder stand and after 2 years bought a Loggy Byou. Now hunt out of a SUmmit. Over the years I have gotten more comfortable with heights, but still am very apprehensive once I get over 12 feet up. Usually I am more conservative in the beginning of the season, but as I climb more and more during the season I get a little more confident. I think I was up at least 18 feet yesterday which is about as high as I go. I hunted out of a buddy's ladder stand once that is 20 ' and on the edge of a ravine that is at least 15' deep and I was so uneasy I don;t think I could have shot a deer if one had walked by. Never hunted that one again.
I just go as high as I feel comfortable and it will change for me day to day, but like I said, as the season goes on I seem to be able to get consistently higher.
Used to hunt primarily from a climber. Would get up to 22' sometimes a bit higher. About eight or nine years ago I hung a hang-on in a pretty big black oak, maybe 20' up. It was at the intersection of two trail that had rubs all along them. It was close, about 20 yards, to a pretty steep hillside. Finally had a chance to hunt it one windy day. Climbed up and I swear looking down that steep hillside it felt like I was 100' up in a swaying tree. I literaly froze. I had my arms behind me holding the tree, wondering how the hell I'm gonna climb down. About 1/2 hour before quitting time I was finally able to let go, lower my bow, and slowly climb down. Now, I'm somewhere between 13-18' up. Still getting the heebie geebies if I get much higher.
I find if I have another tree close by either in front of me or to the side it helps greatly. Those stands where you are hanging off a tree with nothing around you can be hard on the brain...I also have placed my stand just above the brush on the edge of a field in the trees behind the brush say 5 or 7 yards off the field and maybe like 7-8 ft high. You blend into the top of the brush but can shoot over it and that setup has worked very well for me
Glad to hear I'm not alone. Had a 15' ladder stand stolen & replaced it with an 18' ladder with 3 ladder sections. I've never used all 3 sections, meaning I hunt 12' high. Thinking about cutting a foot off of all 3 sections since I'm OK at 15'.
I’m a bit different. Heights have never bothered me. I usually hang a stand at about 14-18’ depending on conditions. I’ve spent my life working construction, walking walls and roofs. I’ve got one stand set that makes me nervous. It’s only 10’ high and I’m nervous cause I’m so low, but tucked back in a cedar.
It's called (technically speaking) "acrophobia" and yes fear of heights is a VERY real and diagnosable disorder. I have essentially no fear of heights but do fear rapid unexpected decceleration. I use to hunt out of Vantage Point hang ons closer to 30' (or how ever high 14-16 screw in steps would get me) than 20 for 90% of my 30+ years of hunting. NEVER wore a harness until I had a what combat vets often refer to as "A significant emotional experience" and got out of what would have been at the very best a very barely minimum permanently life altering accident to more than likely a fatal accidental fall. Went out that instant and bought FBH. Have since upgraded quite a bit to really good FBH,
Now I am dealing with both shoulders and hip needing surgery and find my hang ons just to uncomfortable for all day sits anymore.
Am going to try a saddle this off season and see where that takes me. Best advice I can give you is once on stand adjust your harness lanyard so you can not actually fall out of your stand, if it can be done.
Also during the off season set up a tree stand a foot off the ground or so and figure out how to adjust your harness lanyard so you can not actually fall below your sand and if you do fall its a very simple matter of stepping back into your stand. Only overwhelming confidence and overcome overwhelming fear. You get overwhelming confidence from doing something so much it becomes second nature and requires little if any thought. Like learning to swim to overcome a fear of drowning. Once you become a good swimmer falling into a body of water holds no fear to you if a good swimmer. Same with hunting from a stand. If you know your well experienced in how not to fall and if you fall you will have no serious consequences you should over come your fear of falling from your stand. Hopefully
Mr. Tairei, Mt I suggest you watch this YouTube video. Should prove very helpful in getting you mover your fear of heights.
Sounds like you are not alone in this but I would highly recommend trying to beat your fear. Not only will it open up more opportunities on whitetails but its important to not let fear dictate what you do. In my opinion anyways.
You can hunt safely from a tree so its totally reasonable to assume you could get yourself to that point if you wanted to. Good luck with whatever you decide!
I went up in my Summit climber this afternoon. Probably 10-12'. I was quite comfortable; probably could have gone up another 6' easy. The tree wasn't very easy to climb, a little too thick. Anyway I think the climber works better for me than the ladder stand. My friend with the ladder stand says he's very comfortable in it, has been at it for years. I guess it's a matter of practice, like everyone's saying. Maybe I'll give his stand another try, when he's not using it. One problem with the public land where I'm hunting -- not too many good trees to climb; most of them are leaning, or bent, or dead, too many branches, too small, too large, or bad location. No normal trees. I guess a ladder stand takes care of some of those problems, or those strap-on ladders a hang-on; I notice one guy's got a hang-on on this warped, twisted old tree that I could never climb with my Summit.
Sounds like many wouldn't do well on a construction crew.
I grew up climbing trees, really high, sleeping in tree stands without a harness. I even climbed power poles for a living for a few years. However when it’s my kids I get nervous. Like someone mentioned earlier get a 2 man with a shooting rail. Take a section out so it’s 9-10’ high. Wrap it in burlap or cut cedar. With that and a good harness you would likely feel better.
I've never had a fear of heights, but I'm definitely more comfortable in certain setups than others. In my neck of the woods we have large ponderosa pines trees. I always try to pick a tree that has large branches at about knee height on both sides of the stand. If I were to stumble and fall, knowing that I have something to grab on to, a short distance from the stand, makes me much more comfortable. I'd rather scramble to grab a limb, than rely on my safety rope to break my fall. I know that's not always possible in whitetail woods, where the trees are often like phone poles, but it's something to consider. Some of my most comfortable stands on my cousin's farm in Kansas have been large cedar trees that I cleared out a "hole" in the branches to hang my stand in. There's something about having all that foliage surrounding me that makes those setups feel like sitting in my living room recliner.
GG Take it from a guy who has been in construction for 40+ years and seen a few things happen. If you fall you won’t have time to grab a branch even if it’s close. It’s over in a split second. I think the big plus is simply making you feel more secure. That’s probably the most important. Mental confidence goes a long long way.
Joe something like this with burlap around it and a full platform. There’s not many like this most have a small foot platform and nothing under the seat.
Link - that looks great - I could have my daughter up there with me. Is it heavy to carry and set up.
I absolutely hate heights. The first hour of any treestand hunt always churns my guts. I still get through 5 days of sitting after that though.
I never had an issue with getting ofv the ground, until I fell hanging a stand. I broke an ankle, and got scraped up. I got pretty lucky. I will say, when that ankle healed, and I was able to get back out.... I was petrified of climbing into a treestand. So much so, i ended up buying a climbing stand, which enabled me to start hunting elevated again. I'm okay with it all again now, but I get the whole "fear of heights" thing. To be absolutely truthful... it ain't a fear of heights, it's a fear of falling.
Terra firma for me! I like to be mobile. Besides, as I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to not like getting too high up anymore. Use to be able to hang Christmas lights without a care in the world. Now I get a weird feeling up on a ladder or sitting on the roof making repairs.
"...it ain't a fear of heights, it's a fear of falling."
It's actually the fear of the stop at the end of the fall.
I've been hunting over 50 years and used to climb like a monkey. I've used tree steps and ladder stands but lately I've stayed on the ground. I tried to hunt out of a ladder stand this year and lasted about 30 minutes before I climbed down.
FWIW, sometimes, a "leaning" tree is the best to climb... as long as it's a fairly straight tree and isn't leaning too far. I have a number of leaning trees I climb year after year because the lean allows me to set my climbing stand level at the bottom on the back side of the tree, and then spin around to the other side of the tree as I climb and end up level at my hunting height. I actually look for trees like that.
As for fear of heights, everyone should do what they're comfortable with. Personally, I do not like any stand that doesn't enclose me with a bar in front and on the sides. That's why I prefer API and Summit climbing stands... even when placed as a fixed stand with a ladder or climbing sticks.
I have a Summit 180 I bought 20yrs ago. Love this stand. I used to have a heck of a time with heights. My brother used to stand at the base of my tree and give me the “keep going up thumb motion”. While hunting with him he could persuade me to about 15’. Now I have a number of 20’ climbing sticks that I’ve added an extra section to. 25’ of stick and I hang my stands around 24’. The top step makes a great hanger for gear. Don’t know why but I absolutely love being up higher now. I do know I can get away with more movement and my scent reaches out a lot further before hitting the ground. With a 8 to 10 mph wind deer can cut across down wind within shooting range and never know I’m there. Before I might get a shot at a deer when they hit my scent, but then the deer would be on alert. That’s when I’ve found out a person with good shooting skills can make a “poor shot”. One thing I always do is attach to a lifeline at the base of the tree. The thing that I always say to myself....I owe it to my family to return physically able to support them or I shouldn’t do whatever I might think of doing. VERY DEPENDABLE AND SAFE EQUIPMENT OUT THERE. Use it, inspect it, maintain it, and replace things when needed. We are all worth more than the cost of a “rope”!!!
Do a little research/reading on Andre and Cody D'acquisto. Andre was the founder of Lone Wolf tree stands. Andre and Cody have killed dozens of deer over 170" and some over 200". They will both tell you that they generally hunt low, 10' average I would guess from listening to them, sometimes lower. They focus more on disappearing in the woods rather than in the sky.
Hancock West's Link
I have zero fear of heights, but I'm also smart enough to realize I'm getting fatter and older, and my feet and equilibrium ain't what it used to be. I find myself hanging lower and lower all the time. I prefer and almost exclusively hang in multi-trunked trees for cover/concealment and security. Usually not too big of a trick to find one on my normal farm. If I can't find multiple trunks, I like to hang by a big limb when possible. Just another point that adds cover and security.
Rivers Edge 21-2man. Like sitting on the sofa at home. Heavy duty.
I've now been up in a tree twice, in my Summit Viper. I've only gone up about 8-10'. Honestly I probably could have been tolerated 15' or 16', but I'm just lousy at climbing; haven't yet mastered the art of pulling the lower part up. Now if I were to see a deer, I'll have to stand up to draw my bow, and that's easier said than done.
Throw an arrow in your quiver with a field tip on it and shoot at a leaf, hedgeball, or a spot you can focus on before you get down. Start out shooting something further away the first time and shoot at something 5yards closer until you short almost straight down. It will get you into the habit of looking at things vs how high you are looking from. Once you get comfortable, remind yourself that you’re always at risk. I think that not doing that is where incidents turn into accidents.
If you use a Hushcover it helps a lot and makes the stand extremely quiet
My concerns about heights morphed for the better as my treestand technology advanced from 2x4 stand, screw in steps, Baker stand, chest strap, climbing stix, fixed stands to finally a full body harness combined with Lone Wolf climber. Attached to the tree at all times, with three support points. With this combination I feel extremely secure and routinely climb up as high as 30’ without any concerns. It’s a game changer as deer rarely pick up any scent from there, even when down wind. I actually just finished selling all my old stands & stix on FB Marketplace, which I’d not used in 10+ years. Now all I got are LW & XOP climbers.
I don't have a fear of heights, just of falling. I've rock climbed a bunch, used to hunt out of a Baker climbing stand I built back in the late 70's, built crude, deadly treehouses as a kid (and later crude tree platforms as a young hunter).
But I've also fallen rock climbing and shattered my foot, fell when removing a treestand and lucky to be walking today, have burned several power poles. None of those experiences were pleasant and I think about it every time I go up in a stand. For that reason, I only hunt out of stands I set myself, always use a lifeline, and invested in the best harness I could find.
That said, I feel naked on the side of a tree and much prefer hunting on the ground out of natural or popup blinds. All of my biggest whitetails and riverbottom muleys have been killed on the ground.
Last hour of last day of the season, Dec. 31 2020!
Last hour of last day of the season, Dec. 31 2020!
At the encouragement of folks here, and with help from a hunter friend, I ended up using my climber about a dozen times. Got a Molle waist belt for it, got the 3rd Hand stabilizer straps, and the bow rest, and ended up climbing a tree about a dozen times toward the end of the season. 10' up feels really high; I think on the last day I was at 11'. Some day might go higher, but for now this is my comfort zone. Will be practicing in the summer. Plus my 16-year-old girl wants to try it. She's rather fearless so maybe she'll be the first in our family to get a deer ;)
Don't feel bad. I am definitely afraid of heights, and used to jump out of airplanes for $150/ month. Your harness should give you some security. Test it at ground level. Hang in it. Know how you are going to right yourself if you do fall. I now wear a rock climbing harness and am able to repel to the ground safely if I fall. The major drawback to safety harnesses designed for hunting is their main goal is to keep you from making contact with the ground in the unfortunate event you are unseated or tumble from your perch. They are not well designed for descending/ ascending or recovering from a mishap, which is why I prefer rock climbing gear. With the climbing gear I KNOW THAT I AM SAFE. Heights are a mental game I can defeat with a safety system I trust.... weird but for me it is the difference between being physically frozen in fear, and completely comfortable.
Haven't read all the comments but answering the OP...I've gotten my share of deer over the years...most from heights...and I suggest you work on your fear of such. Can you get deer from the ground...certainly. Does it, in many cases, up your odds by being 15, 20, 25, or 30 feet off the ground (terrain dependant)...certainly. What I suggest you do is get a good and stable tree stand, position it four or five feet off the ground and dance the macarena on it...using a good safety harness...until you feel totally confident in it's safety and stability. Then just going a bit higher each time. I've killed deer (w/gun) as high as 60 feet. Never felt uncomfortable due to the stability of my stand. Of course as an electrician doing rough-in work I used to walk a 6" beam a couple hundred feet off the ground with two 10' lengths of conduit screwed together for balance...but that's another story LOL.
I was surprised to see that this was a problem for so many bowhunters. I just take it for granted that we all enjoy being up in a tree.
I used to be a tower climbing instructor so maybe I'm not one to give advice.
That said, the first thing you learn in tower climbing is to trust your safety gear. If you are attached 100% of the time, which is tower climbing 101, you can never fall past the limit of your safety strap. Put up a stand at only a few feet high, get on and strap yourself in. Lean out until you fall out and let your safety strap catch you. Swing around a while and get back in. Do this enough and you will learn to trust your safety equipment. It might not allow you to go up 20' but you do learn to be more comfortable and should get you up high enough to be a tree stand hunter.
I started bowhunting when I was young so never had a fear of climbing. I get a little squeemish when I get above 20'. So I don't go higher than that. I actually like the angles on animals better at 15-17 feet anyways. At 20' or higher, the animal feels a lot further away. Anyone else feel that way?
12yards...that's exactly why I bought an angle compensating rangefinder this year. Killed a decent buck at 35 degrees....without my newly purchased rangefinder I most likely would have overshot him or hit him too high. For those of you that don't really know what 35 degrees is...get an angle rangefinder and you'll see.
I'm an Airborne vet and I've rappelled from towers and buildings in urban warfare MOUNT buildings. I had a fear of heights but the security of being tethered to a rope or in a parachute harness makes you fell safer. Being up to 3k feet up kinda looks like a toy train set as a perspective. Rappelling is fun, leaning back for that L-Shape before descent isn't comfortable, nor is walking up the tower. But one up you're on the rope. Don't look down.
When I was in jump school, people that had never been in an aircraft completed training. Honestly I didn't have time to be scared. That first jump was within 6 minutes of station time. They get you in that plane and you're jumping on Fryer DZ in no time at all. I did have my eyes slammed shut on that first jump. When I got to Bragg and made my first jump we were in the C-130 for f'n hours and I was wondering "Where in the hell are we going?" Sicily DZ was on Bragg. Maybe a 30 minute drive. Then I learned what NAP of the earth flying was: Flying to make you want to blow chunks the entire flight.
Perspective means everything. When you focus on the fear it ramps up like a pit-bull on crack. Think, but don't dwell. Peer pressure is motivating.
Now that I'm older and haven't done it being on a ladder or the roof doesn't feel right. I'm not tethered to anything. I also haven't jumped for 20 years. You have to keep doing it. Granted I would think about that "last jump" during pre-jump training. Being overconfident can be as dangerous as being scared shitless. Both situations means you aren't thinking clearly. I still won't take the stairs on a rickety fire tower around here.
The SRS climbing method seems a better fit, but it can be as expensive if not more than a tree stand. You are always on the line and could use a backup. Rappelling, you got a man on belay.
No, I have not used a deer stand, but I suppose all those tree stands for sale of FB marketplace (at actual cost) are from people that bought them and decided it's not for them. I don't want to fork over cash and get the jitters. I'm going to try something, maybe I'll have to fork cash over. It would help if I knew someone that hunted. In my line of work most men collect Star Wars figures (IT) for their desk. Nothing wrong with that, it isn't for me. I f'n hate IT now. It's life draining.
I think wioutdoors74 advice is likely the best. "Practice. Start low and work your way up."
Joe, everybody has an opinion and you've gotten a lot of good advice.
For me, I started deer hunting with a bow at age 15 in 1975.
The majority of my hunting has been on the ground though. I've had a love hate relationship with treestands..lol
This year I bought a Novix Helo, I'm gonna commit to hunting out of it this season.
For 47 years I've never ever liked being more than 13 ft...don't know why that is but 10 to 13 ft I don't have a problem at all with the height but anything above that height is not for me..I don't worry about it whatsoever.
Besides, you don't have to go any higher than your comfort zone.
The key to hunting on the ground or in a tree is movement, scent and blending in.
Just pick a tree where you have some cover at 10 or 12 ft and hunt.
If folks can kill deer on the ground you can kill one at 12 ft. I wouldn't worry about it...at all.
Great topic, lots of interesting comments. One beneficial thing about the saddle that is often overlooked is the absence of slack in the tether, because it’s supporting your weight to begin with. In the event of a fall, slack is the enemy. Also: one advantage of ground hunting is that you spend your time hunting, not climbing trees. And you can save a ton of money staying on the ground.
Height is a funny thing. In 68 I could not get thru air rescue, I could not pass jump school, however had no issue on air craft wearing a tether hook up, doing loads. Well they let me do that, on 97s and 130s, loved the Air Force.....
My friend John. flew every aircraft in the world, in a 40 year span, however he would never sit more than 10 feet in a ladder stand
My daughter is afraid of heights so we have a few 10 & 12 footers for her. This is a 12 footed double with the bar on it. We drape with camo netting & it works great. If we cant get in with a vehicle we use a deer hauler to take in.
I've killed over 200 deer with a bow. I don't think I've ever been over 18' in a stand. My average height is about 12'. I'd be scared crappless at 20'!
When we started bowhunting in the mod 70s mist folks hunted 10 to 15 ft
One of the best and most successful deer hunters I know doesn't go over 8 feet and many times less.
He does make sure he has a good background and brushes in his stands.
I have a Tree Lounge climber that I especially like for gun hunting because I can get high with it and take scent out of the equation. Gun hunting I'll go 30 feet with it. I don't use it that much for bow hunting but yesterday I did and went up 25 feet didn't like the shooting lanes and steep shot angle, came down changed trees and went up 20 feet. It is one stand I feel safe and secure in.
"The basic utility pole in the United States is 40 feet", with that in mind, I have serious doubts about the claims of anyone perching over 25' with a climbing stand. I'm talking from the foot platform.
You get used to it. Without a doubt. Pretty much anybody's ever started doing a roofing job or putting up gutters started out afraid then got comfortable. Sometimes even at the beginning of the year the first few times I'm a little nervous but it goes away quickly.
It's difficult to be even begin to explain what a massive advantage is for whitetails. Especially mature bucks.
I've taken quite a few Pope and young whitetails and taking one from the ground seems nearly impossible.
I've had very good luck hunting much lower. 6 to 10 feet
I use a 15' ladder, life line & a wing-man. I'm still a little nervous, but all the safety stuff helps.
I can relate to a lot of what the OP talked about. I have a Viper as well and definitely feel "safe" in it; probably for the same reason, the bar that wraps around me is close so thus feel more secure. That also applies to hunting out of a saddle. With a saddle, you are in constant contact with the tethr on the tree so there is an extra feeling of security. You can also use the linemans belt when setting sticks so the fear of falling is diminished there as well. Once you feel secure in the stand itself the idea of heights becomes less of a factor and you can work to improve hunting level heights. Start at 3 feet and lean back in the saddle. After getting to the point of feeling extra "secure", improve your height a little. To be honest, I hunt primarily between 10-15 ft so not very high anyway. TODDY
I’m kinda the same…prefer a stand with arm rests. “Feels” better. Hangs on stands I usually hang about 16’. Saddle I’ve gone as high as my sticks will let me or higher if I have a tree pegged on private. My pull ropes 24’ and Ive just about had the bow standing up when I set the platform. Feel more comfortable in my saddle higher
If you use a climber with the wrap around bar like the Viper you can set the bar up high and the seat low so that when you shoot while standing you use the bar as a support and it doesn't get in the way of your bow limbs, but shooting sitting down is another story. I hunted out of my brothers API once and set the bar up high and I could shoot my 62 inch recurve with no problem and the bar gave me a sense of security.