Stands For Heavy Hunters

My young hunting buddy Mike outgrew me. It wasn’t that he grew up, got a driver’s license and discovered girls, although all those things happened. Mike, who now plays on the offensive line for a college football team, literally outgrew any treestand I had when his weight neared 300 pounds.

We were lucky, very lucky. After one afternoon hunt, we met as planned at dark at a field edge, to walk together back to my truck. We started driving and Mike said something like, “oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you, but you know that stand I was in? It seems like those cables, the ones that go to the platform, are sort of giving a little.”

I’d realized Mike was getting bigger. I was driving a small pickup then, and it had seemed that Mike was stuffed into the passenger side. But weight limits on treestands? I’d never given it a second thought.

Travis “T-Bone” Turner is a heavy hunter, and always wears a full-body harness rated at 350 pounds.

Most climbing stands, portables and single-person ladders are rated to 300 pounds, and two-person stands commonly rate to 500 pounds. If you’re a heavyweight division hunter, you have to consider the total of your weight, your clothes, your backpack, and your archery gear.

Be Wary Of Harness Rating
What’s more, you better find out what the weight rating is for your safety harness. It won’t do you one bit of good to buy a stand rated for 350 pounds if you have a fall while wearing a harness rated for 250- or 300 pounds.

“And even if you’re wearing a harness when you fall, can you get back into your stand?” asked John Louk, executive director of the Treestand Manufacturers Association. “It’s critical to practice with your stand and your harness at ground level, and see if you can recover from a fall.”

If a hunter’s weight exceeds the harness rating, in a fall the hunter could tear through the harness, or portions of the harness could tear or be compromised in such a way that the harness strapping material could wind up around the hunter’s neck, choking him.

There are 26 treestand manufacturers which are members of the Treestand Manufacturers Association. I only found three — API, Lone Wolf and Summit — which make climbers with a rating of 350 pounds. Only API and Lone Wolf make portable stands with a rating of 350 pounds. API and Summit make single-person ladders rated to 350.

“Seventy-five percent of all treestands are rated for 300 pounds, or less,” Louk said. “The other 25 percent have gone through the painstaking process of designing a stand that can handle the increased weight rating.”

Two-Person Ladders
A few years ago I was so proud to buy my first little piece of “hunting” property, which was just a 10-acre strip of woods. So that I could hunt with the young Mikey, then a lot smaller, I wanted to put up a two-person stand.

It took Mikey, me, another adult man and two of Mikey’s football teammates to wrestle the stand into position. When I sold the property two years later, I handed the new owner the keys to the padlock which was on the stand. There was no way I was going to try to move that stand again!

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