How to Design and Build a Permanent Tree Stand for Hunting Whitetail Deer
The Benefits of a Permanent Hunting Stand Built in a Tree
The first morning of the whitetail deer hunting season in southern Georgia would not be welcomed by many hunters because of the pouring rain. It would be bad enough having to sit in an open stand much less trying to shoot without getting the scope lens wet. Then there would be the cleaning and oiling of the rifle to prevent corrosion to the moving parts. A camouflaged umbrella helps some, but only if the wind isn’t blowing too hard. These are just a few of the problems encountered when using a ladder or freestanding deer hunting stand. For comfort, safety, scent control, and overall durability, you can’t surpass the permanent tree stand.
If you own your own hunting land or have a long term lease on prime deer hunting land you might consider spending a few bucks and have a stand in which you can hunt in any weather conditions. Of course hunting in high winds may be the exception depending on your ability to withstand motion sickness. A well constructed tree stand will last for years and make your deer hunting experience pleasurable, as well as productive. The purpose of this article is to help you construct a safe and durable tree stand which will allow you to hunt comfortably for many years.
Selecting the Proper Tree and Designing the Stand
Assuming you have already completed your scouting of the area, it is time to choose a tree for your stand. An extension ladder is essential to gain access to the prospected tree for a look at the view you will have from this vantage point. The view you expect to have may not meet with your satisfaction once you have reached the height planned for the tree stand. The larger the tree the more steady the platform is the rule of thumb. Having larger limbs to support parts of the structure is also advantageous during construction. Oak and other hardwood trees are recommended for their durability and longevity. Pine and other softwood trees can split and break during a storm and the limbs are usually small and lofty anyway.
Plenty of Prospects
Once you have selected a tree the construction can begin. By carefully measuring the tree and limbs you can find out just how big your stand may be. In this way, you can pre-fabricate the entire stand before beginning construction. If you do not have access to a chain saw or generator, or the stand is located deep in the woods, pre-fabbing the stand is a good idea. Some hunters will construct their stands and then disassemble them before ever going into the woods. The choice is yours to make.
At this point you must decide how elaborate the stand is going to be. Whether it has walls and a roof, windows and doors, carpeted floors, or any other special features, now is the time to plan. Draw out the design and alter it as needed.
The materials used to construct the stand are very important. Pressure-treated wood shoild be used for any part of the stand exposed to the elements. The roof, if used, can be metal, asphalt shingles, or any other waterproof material of your choice. Exterior or marine plywood is normally the best and most durable wood material used in most tree stands. Though not cheap, this plywood can be used for almost any part of the stand such as walls and flooring. Galvanized screws and nails will last for decades without rusting or otherwise corroding. Durability and safety is first and foremost in this project as many hunting accidents are related to using a tree stand. Build your stand strong.
You may find it helpful to construct the means of getting up to the tree stand as the first step in the assembly process. If you are planning to use spikes or screw-in foot rungs for your means of ascent, then an extension ladder will be required. If you intend to build a strong ladder or other stair device you can use these as a means of conveying the boards and other necessities aloft. Hammers, screw guns, levels, and other tools will be required. If you want to get fancy, build a spiral staircase around the tree. Let your buddies top that one if they can!
Attaching the Stand to the Tree
How the tree stand is attached to the tree depends not only on the type of tree selected, but on the design of the tree stand you have chosen to build. Always take in consideration the way the tree moves in the wind. Try to allow some movement of the tree stand itself to alleviate stress to the tree and stand. It is entirely possible to use stainless steel strapping to hold the tree stand onto the tree limbs or trunk but be very certain the straps are securely fastened. Zinc-coated lag bolts are the best choice for screwing into the tree itself. These bolts need to be checked before every deer hunting season to make sure they haven’t grown into the tree causing the supporting rafters to split or break.
Buy bolts long enough so you are able to loosen them as the tree grows larger. This is a very important maintenance procedure to extend the life of the stand, and possibly the hunter using the tree stand.
Building the Tree Stand
Construct the floor of 2x4’s on 16” centers. Use treated plywood held down with galvanized screws. Once the floor has been constructed the rest of the tree stand goes up rather easily. Erect the studs for the walls leaving room for the windows or shooting spaces whichever you decide to use. Two-by-four rafters will do nicely for the roof and a small bit of tin roofing keeps out the rain or snow. Galvanized screws work very well for attaching all of these pieces together as well as being weather proof and strong. Once the walls and floor are assembled you are ready to customize the interior. A small section of indoor/outdoor carpet on the floor aids in keeping your movements quiet as well as keeping you warm on those cold days.
There is no standard plan for a tree stand which will fit every application so you must design your own. If constructed properly, this tree stand will withstand the weather for many years to come. There is no limit to the improvements you might make in the future, such as windows which raise and lower silently or a small heater to keep you toasty on those damp cold days during the main rut. Build your stand big enough for two people if possible. Who knows, you might like to bring your grandson along in twenty years or so. Happy hunting!