Setting up ladder stands by yourself can be a chore, especially if the stand is more than 15 feet tall. The bottom nearly always slides as you attempt to walk the top-heavy ladder up the tree.
The trick is to stake down the bottom rung of the ladder so it won’t slide. I am 71 years old, and have safely used the following method for years.
Here’s what I do:
I use a 3 foot piece of rebar (4 to 6 inch wide) and bend it into a U shape. It ends up quite long and narrow.
To raise your ladder stand, first make sure all obstructions between the ladder and tree are removed, then lay the ladder facedown. With the feet about 60 inches from the base of the tree, use a hammer to stake down the bottom rung with the U stake.
You could go ahead and raise the ladder without the bottom sliding, but I like to tie two straps or rope to each side of the ladder first, about a third of the way down from the seat.
These straps are about as long as the ladder is tall. I use them to temporarily secure the top of the ladder to the tree until I can climb up and ratchet the seat to the tree.
After the temporary ropes are attached, I raise the stand and walk it up until the seat sits against the tree. The stake has acted like an extra set of hands, allowing the bottom rung to rotate but not slide.
If your ladder stand has leg braces, install them now to roughly secure the stand, then remove the stake.
Now climb partially up and cross the two straps around the back of the trunk. Pull them as tightly and as high as you can, then tie them off.
The ladder should now be secure enough for you to safely climb to the top and ratchet the stand’s seat to the tree.
I hope this tip helps hunters like me who often have to put up ladder stands all by themselves.
Perfect Shot or Pass?
By Michael O’Brien
Have you ever panicked when a deer showed up and fired a shot before a good shot was offered? If you are an experienced hunter, this has probably happened to you, and you know what happens next.
Most misses and deer recovery problems are caused by hunters not waiting for the correct moment to shoot. Many of these troubles could be eliminated if hunters use patience and common sense to hold out for a perfect shot.
The perfect shot requires two things. First, wait for your target to be within a comfortable distance. This means you’ve practiced with your weapon and are proficient with making shots at this range. Allow the deer time to get there.
Secondly, your target’s body position is of utmost importance. The deer needs to be broadside or quartering away, never facing you. This gives your bullet or arrow its best chance to pass through vital organs without contacting leg or shoulder bones.
If the deer is in range but not positioned favorably, wait.
Don't risk wounding a deer by allowing adrenaline to force you into a bad decision. Use patience and pass on marginal shots — you’ll get another chance!
Editor’s Note by Tim H. Martin
I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to Michael’s tip, because there are other variables required for a perfect shot scenario.
A moving target is never a good target, especially when bowhunting. Shooting at a walking or running deer has probably caused more gut shots than any other mistake. Learn to whistle or grunt to stop a walking deer before shooting.
Experienced hunters consciously look for potential problems before pulling the trigger.
The perfect shot also requires a shooting lane clear of obstructions. Make sure your deer is in the clear. Small twigs or branches can deflect a bullet, even at relatively short distances.
When bowhunting, your potential trophy’s demeanor also comes into play.
A perfect shot scenario requires the animal to be calm, preferably grazing or passing through unbothered. A nervous deer is far more likely to react and jump the string than a calm one. The more you observe deer, the better you’ll become at recognizing body language.
Patience is a learned virtue. Like anything else in hunting, the more experience you acquire through time afield, the better you’ll be at waiting for that perfect shot.
Lost in the Wild — Safety Gear
By David Hoogendorn
I am retired from the U.S. Army, and safety has been beaten into my head since I was a private. This discipline has carried over from my military career and into my life as a civilian who hunts.
Because I hunt in a vast, 5,000-acre area, getting lost could be a very real and very life-threatening proposition. I take special precautions not to get lost, but in the event it happens, I carry a couple of simple items that would help greatly in my recovery.
A strobe light and whistle can mean the difference between life and death, so I keep them attached to my harness at all times.
The strobe light serves two purposes. First, it’s a point of reference when I get down after dark to go retrieve a deer. I turn it on and hang it in a visible place near my stand so I can’t lose my bearings while focusing on a blood trail.
Secondly, it allows searchers to have an easier time finding me should I get injured or lost.
The whistle also serves as a location device if I get lost. It can pierce out into distance where a human voice cannot, and it will not give out like vocal cords. It works day or night, rain or shine.
Strobe lights and whistles are very affordable and take up very little room. You can purchase them online or find them at practically any sporting goods retailer.
Editor’s Note by Tim H. Martin
Getting lost happens a lot more than you’d think, even to experienced outdoorsmen. I got lost in an ice storm while fishing alone in the Rockies in 2014. Luckily, I had the forethought to bring items such as a whistle, strobe light, laser pointer, compass, fire starter kit and space blanket — all of which came in handy. Eventually, I found my way out, but a hiker perished there later in the fall. Sadly, he did not have the proper safety equipment.