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Elk Hunting with Tree Stands

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Have you ever thought of hunting for elk in a treestand? Wonder why so many whitetail hunters use a stand to harvest a big buck?

The trend of using a treestand to hunt game is as strong as ever, and the manufacturers of these stands are making big improvements to the products used in the woods. Gone are the days of the basic steel platform ratchet strapped to the side of a tree or a wood platform nailed int he crotch of an old oak. In modern hunting trends, hunters out west are utilizing strategies that east and midwest hunters have been using for years. Although using a stand on public land may be risky and expose it to potentially being stolen, if you know of a great location, then it will prove a huge key to bagging a big bull or cow elk.

Treestands are now durable, weather proof and very comfortable. There are three basic types of treestands: Ladder, Climber and Lock On. From double wide stands to large platform areas, ladder stands seem to be the most comfortable, but are harder to get back to the woods, especially on public land where you have to carry it in. Lock on stands are the lightest and smallest, but you need to either use ladder pegs or stick ladders to get yourself up to the stand. Climber stands are packable but you need to carry it in and out and use it to get up and down, making them more dangerous to use. Whichever stand is the best style for you, be sure to do research online to analyize customer reviews and don't pick the stand because of who is on the label.

Check out this video from a hunter in a treestand with bull elk below his stand.

Elk can be hunted from treestands successfully, but some key things should be done to place the stand in the right location and get in and out of the stand at the right time! Stick to these tips when placing your stand for elk in the woods:

  1. Scout out the top 3-5 locations for placing a stand in the woods. Make sure the trails are not seasonal, or are used during the season you plan to hunt.
  2. When scouting, place trail cameras near your top locations 1-2 months before you plan to hunt so you can find out which location is best.
  3. About 3-4 weeks before you plan to hunt, check the trail cameras and decide which location is being used consistently.
  4. Install your stand in a location where the elk will be trailing up wind from normal wind patterns. Anticipate thermals going up and downhill and place your stand to the side of the trail, not right on the trail.
  5. Try to make sure that the stand is not visible from the uphill side from elk trails, so they are not looking directly at you from the side of the hill.
  6. Make sure when the sun rises or sets, it won't be in your eyes.
  7. Secure your stand, spray it down with Scent control spray, and mark the location on your GPS and on a printed map.
  8. Tie a small rope to the stand that can be dangled down to raise up your bow or firearm. Screw in a bow or gun holder next to your stand in the tree.
  9. Plan your entry and exit strategies based on elk patterns from trail camera photos.
  10. Make sure to use a safety vest when hunting in a treestand, ALWAYS!
  11. Mark a trail with reflective tabs on trees to help you find the stand in the dark with a flashlight ot headlamp.
  12. Do Not leave anything or drop anything at the bottom of the stand
  13. BE READY BEFORE LIGHT and LEAVE AFTER DARK as the elk use these trails early mornings and late evening!
  14. If you are on a wallow, SIT ALL DAY! These elk come to cool off on hotter days of archery and early rifle seasons.

Placement of these stands is crucial to a great hunt. Many elk hunters are successful in placing the stands:

  • Next to dark, wooded escape corridors
  • Next to wallows or frequested ponds or stream crossings
  • Next to farm croplans where trails meet the field
  • Above lateral trails
  • NOT in bedding areas
  • NOT in wide open or sparsely wooded areas
  • NOT on the downside of a lateral side trail

The next time to decide to go back to the woods, think about using a tree stand to hunt for elk. As you can see it takes some learning, research and time in the woods. But, with the proper use of treestands, you can take that bull of a lifetime, especially one that would never give you a shot in a wide open meadow!

Example of Treestand style, by Ameristep: Lock On, Climber and Ladder Stands