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 later played on the offensive line for a college football team, literally outgrew any tree stand I had when his weight neared 250 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 from the seat 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 tree stands? I’d never given it a second thought.
I checked the rating on my portable, hang-on stands, and was surprised to learn that they were only rated to 250 pounds. In addition, some were fairly old. What was I doing, letting my friend’s son or anyone, use an old portable stand that could be replaced at a reasonable price? And why take chances with the weight limit? Mikey weighed 250 pounds, but that did not include his boots, clothing and pack, which held his binoculars, thermos and lunch.
Single-person ladders are rated to 300 pounds, and two-person stands commonly rate to 500 pounds. The “man and a half” stands are rated to 350 pounds. If you’re a heavyweight division hunter, you have to consider the total of your weight, clothes, boots and pack. You should also consider the roominess of the stand, which translates to your ability to move in it and make a shot. Two-person stands also give you and your friends the ability to mentor and assist other hunters, the old and the young.
There were several common complaints about two-person ladders – they weren’t high enough and they were too expensive. Sportsman’s Guide has blown those complaints out of the water with the Guide Gear Deluxe 18-foot Two-Man Stand, selling for $99 (or $89 for Buyer’s Club members). You can’t buy a portable stand and steps for less. Plus, it comes with two safety harnesses. The platform (37 x 13 inches) and seat (38 x 13 inches) are roomy.
Don’t be put off by the notation “heavy bulky shipping charge” applies. This is only $10 more. For example, for the GG Deluxe 18-foot Two-Man stand, regular shipping charges would be 13.99, plus the $10 heavy/bulky charge.
The Guide Gear Big Boy “Man and a Half” ladder stand is also 18 feet high and has a 350-pound capacity. The platform is 28 x 36 inches and the seat is 25 x 20 inches. It comes with a flip-up shooting rail and a flip-back foot rest, and also one safety harness. The regular price is $169.99 (Buyer’s Club $152.99)
If you have a spot for a higher stand, take a look at the Guide Gear 25 foot Deluxe Double Rail Ladder Tree Stand. The double rails are also “over-sleeved” between sections for extra stability. The stand is rated for 300 pounds and includes a flip-up shooting rail. The seat is 19 ¼ by 11 ¾, and the platform is 22 ¾ by 17 ¼. The regular cost is $149.99 (Buyer’s Club $134.99).
Let’s take a look at a third “complaint” about ladder stands — they’re difficult to set up. Make it easy on yourself and your helpers. Don’t forget the Guide Gear Ladder Tree Stand Install Hoist System at $49.99 (Buyer’s Club $44.99). Ropes and pulleys make the job much easier, and safer. You can also use this for hanging portable stands, and…for hanging that trophy buck you get while hunting from a Guide Gear tree stand!
Make sure you visit Sportsman’s Guide for the full selection of tree stands.