My climbing stand has been an integral part of my bowhunting since my first season in the woods. And if you think we outdoor writers always have fancy new gear on hand, you need to take a close look at my stand (pictured below). It’s an old Summit, likely older than I am, that was bought at a yard sale. It had a separate hand climber, but I found it to be an unnecessary accessory. I simply bear-hug the tree and pull the stand up with my feet. By the end of deer season, I can shimmy up a tree right now, although bark-calloused nipples are a minor side-effect.
Is this stand obsolete? Yes.
Ugly? Hideous, in fact.
But it works, and I've not had a reason to change it.**
I like a climber because I like to stay mobile. It’s the ideal tool for public hunting in this area, as we’ve got an abundance of straight trees around here. I hang lock-ons and ladder stands each year, and do plenty of hunting from them. They have their place. But day in and out, if the task is to kill something, I’ll pick my climber. Most bowhunters I know who live in the Southeast feel the same way.
But that’s not necessarily true in other regions. Midwestern hunters, especially, tend to be lock-on fanatics. The country is more open, and many times, there are fewer straight trees. Plenty of guys can set up a hang-on stand with climbing sticks in short order, too, as my buddy Dave Hurteau demonstrates in this video on Field and Stream’s site.
Hansen is a lock-on guy. He prefers having a stand ready and waiting so he can slip in, hunt, and slip out without carrying a lot of gear. Since he films many of his hunts for Antler Geeks, having two stands in place—one for him and one for a cameraman—is a near necessity. He travels to deer hunt more than me, and does quite a few “hang and hunts” when he’s in a new area, too.
So which do you opt for most of the time? Climber or hang-on, and how come?
** I did spend some time in my wife’s Summit Open Shot last season, and I liked it enough that I may upgrade before next fall. It's light, comfortable and easy to use. Then again, I'm guessing my old stand has at least another 10, maybe 20 seasons left in it. Maybe I'll just wear it out first.