Spring Maintenance for Deer Tree Stands and Portable Ground Blinds
Hunting stand and blind maintenance is an afterthought for most hunters after the completion of a long deer season. Hunters are often preparing for spring gobbler or dusting off their trout rods for opening day in anticipation of warming spring weather. Spring, however, is an ideal time of year for revisiting your hunting spot and either removing or inspecting your tree stands. Take this break between outdoor activities to return to your tree stand locations, pull and/or inspect stands or prepare your pop-up ground blinds for turkey season or storage until next deer season.
Pulling Portable Tree Stands
The first thought before engaging in any activity involving hunting stands should be safety. Always approach climbing into your stand the same way, whether for a day long hunt or spring removal, safety first using proper safety belts and harnesses and general awareness on what you are about to do. Don’t take anything for granted, even ladder tree stands have risks associated with climbing and removal.
Portable stands, like hang-on tree stands and ladder tree stands, are best maintained by removing them after each hunting season. Not only does pulling your tree stands reduce weathering effects from temperature and precipitation but in some states it is illegal to keep your hunting stands on public grounds after each season. Having the stand on the ground gives you the opportunity to completely evaluate and repair all aspects of your stand and tree stand accessories such as climbing sticks or shooting rails.
- Visually inspect your tree stands for signs of metal fatigue like stress cracks, especially in older stands.
- Check each nut and bolt, tighten (or replace if necessary) any that may have loosen from use.
- Proactively fight rust by priming and repainting areas showing signs of rust or parts that have been nicked or scratched from use to prevent further damage.
- Examine cables, straps and pins for wear. Replace stand straps as needed or based on manufacturer recommendations, which is typically every two years.
- Care for seats by checking for rips or tears. Cushioned seats are notorious for animal damage and wear faster than unpadded nylon seats.
- Clean dirt and debris from climbing sticks, shooting rails or other accessories before storing.
- Check safety systems for wear. Most harnesses have a lifespan of 5 years and should be replaced if older or if showing signs of wear that may impact performance.
Although safety is the most important reason for checking your hunting tree stands, maintaining stands also helps to improve your hunting experience. Rusty platforms and ladders along with loose bolts create noise that could be the difference between a successful hunt and one that sees your trophy running the other way as you move for a shot. Squeaks and other noises can be detected in stand and noted or attach your stand a few feet up in a tree at home. Move around your platform, lift the seat up and down and use the shooting rail to identify areas of noise and treat with a lubricant where applicable.
Parts that need replaced should be done with replacement parts from the manufacturer to preserve operating capability. Certain parts have specific specifications for their use and are designed for safety, using other parts may reduce safety or stand performance. Even the best hunting tree stands have a life span. Repairs can only go so far, know when a stand has exceeded its life, retire it and purchase a new one.
Neglecting Permanent Hunting Tree Stands
We all have it, our favorite deer hunting tree stand in that perfect location that you hunt year after year. Or perhaps it is a tried and true permanent stand along a field edge. Unlike portable tree stands, these stands stay out year round and often get overlooked when it comes to maintenance yet they still require upkeep to ensure safe hunts. Visually inspect for sturdiness on ladders or steps, rust on metal platforms, missing or loose bolts at connection points or worn strap on trees. Store any seats to prevent weathering or animal damage and loosen straps to allow for tree growth over the course of the growing season. Note any maintenance issues, acquire replacement parts and repair as needed so each stand is prepared for the start of next season. It is also a good idea to re-check permanent hunting stands prior to hunting the fall season to tighten straps and confirm the stand is safe and ready for your next hunt.
Ground Blind Preparation
Blinds like The Redemption Ground Blind by Muddy Outdoors are becoming more and more popular each season with hunters. Although constructed of durable, long lasting fabric these modern hunting implements still require care after each season and are often overlooked. Check tie down ropes as well as the shell itself for any signs of wear. Deer only blinds should be cleaned with a damp rag to remove dirt and grim from outdoor exposure and stored in the carry bag until next season. Prepare those that will be used in spring turkey by wiping down and checking that internal frames are fully functional.
Muddy Outdoors | Redemption Ground Blind Hub Style Set Up
(Video)- The Redemption Ground Blind by Muddy Outdoors is constructed with durable, long lasting fabric, and has extremely easy set up for reliable and portable use.
Secondary Benefits to Stand Maintenance
Unless you will be pulling your stand and opting for a new setup in the coming season, spring can be an opportunity to enhance your hunting location. The lack of vegetation gives you the same prospective you will see hunting in the fall. Take advantage and trim existing shooting lanes or create new ones by removing branches or small trees that may impeed future shots. If a portable hunting blind is more to your liking, make sure setup locations are free of debris and clear shots are available from all shooting windows. Be sure to preserve a balance between shooting lanes and concealment. Completing these activities in the spring also eliminates additional work, scent and disturbance in the critical weeks leading up to deer season. All that is left is a few snips on any new growth when you return to hang your stand or place your blind.
Shooting lanes are important but don’t forget about entry and exit points to your hunting spot. While pulling you stand or checking your set location, trim your trails. Clear fallen branches from winter and widen trails to avoid scent and noise that may spook game as you enter and exit during hunting season.
Reflect on the past season and determine if that tree or blind location is the best spot for success. Perhaps there is a better tree or setup based on your hunting experiences last season. Spring gives you the flexibility to analyze slowly and make decisions without the added pressure of deer season approaching and the stress of late summer heat and creepy crawlers.
Tree stands and hunting blinds are a tool and like any tool they require maintenance to perform as designed. Post season, spring-time is a great opportunity to get into the woods again. Revisit you hunting stand locations to remove and maintain your portable stands, check your permanent stands, care for blinds and spruce up your hunting locations, all in preparation for future successful and safe hunts.