How to Use a Climbing Treestand

Midwest Whitetail • August 08, 2023

This is a quick overview of how to use a climbing treestand. The term "climbing treestand" may or may not be self-explanatory enough. If it sounds like a treestand that you can use to climb a tree, then the term has indeed done its job.

In the South, there are lots of tall, straight trees, which are ideal for use with a climbing treestand. If you're in the Midwest, it may be more difficult to find the right tree for this--not only because there are fewer tall, straight trees, but also because you are not allowed to saw branches on public land. But when you can find the right tree, it's hard to beat the mobility and flexibility of a setup like this.

Generally, a climbing treestand is comprised of two parts: a top piece and a bottom piece. The bottom piece is where your feet go, while the top piece usually includes a sort of seat. The treestand in this video utilizes a sling seat.

Some Important Considerations

It's important to note that anytime you're leaving the ground, you want to be safe and have your safety harness on at all times. In this video, we use a Muddy safety harness with a lineman's rope to keep connected to the tree at all times.

These climbing stands usually have a cable or chain system with adjustable knobs on them for tightening / loosening the top and bottom pieces against the tree. With this sort of system, it's good to remember that most trees fit for climbing with this type of stand will gradually become narrower the higher you ascend. It's much easier to make the tightening adjustment while you're standing on the ground. For that reason, when you find a tree you like, try to anticipate that narrowing and set the angle of that upper piece before you start climbing so that when you reach your final height your seat is level.

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Angle the seat to anticipate a narrower tree up high

Ideally, you're climbing a tree with some softer bark so that the stand's teeth can really bite into it. But if you're on a tree with really hard bark, such as a hackberry or a red oak tree, it's imperative to keep your weight away from the tree. But because standing and leaning away from the tree is not intuitive, especially if you're new to tree climbing, you have to really stay alert about where you're putting your weight. Why? Because if you place your weight directly over the treestand teeth, you'll push them right off of the tree and the stand will drop from underneath you. If, however, you put your weight on the part of the stand that is away from the tree, as the mechanism is designed, your weight will give those teeth more bite. We've had friends get stranded up in the tree just with just the top piece because they misplaced their weight, causing the bottom to drop out from underneath them and slide all the way down to the ground. Some treestands are made so that the top piece is connected to the bottom piece to prevent that very thing from happening, and you can also use extra straps to secure your pieces together and/or to the tree, but it's still good practice to learn not to rely on that.

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The teeth are where the stand rests against the tree

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Placing your feet too close to the tree causes the bottom piece to lose bite and drop

Climbing with the Stand

The top piece can be moved up and down with your hands. For the lower piece, there is usually a strap or similar mechanism to secure it to your boots, allowing you to lift or lower it with your legs. Once you lift up either stand, that causes it to lose its bite against the tree so you can slide it up or down. And always remember to secure your safety harness to the tree before you begin climbing.

To climb, you will:

  1. Stand on the lower piece as you lift the upper piece to re-bite it to a higher spot on the tree.
  2. Sit on the upper piece as you lift the lower piece with your legs to re-bite it to a higher spot on the tree.
  3. Repeat.
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Stand and lift seat

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Sit and lift feet

Once you get up to the level on the tree where you want to hunt, you can set up your safety harness, then turn around on the stand and slide your seat into position so that you're sitting with your back to the tree, facing out. When you're ready to descend, you will simply reverse the process you used to ascend:

  1. Lock your feet into the lower stand straps, lift up with your legs, lower the piece, then re-bite. Don't go so low you can't keep your rear in the seat.
  2. Put your weight on the lower while you lift the upper piece at an angle, lower it, then re-bite it.
  3. Repeat.

It's super-simple in how it works but requires some practice to master and get truly comfortable with. Watch the video above for a visual demonstration!

--Midwest Whitetail