How to Effectively Use a Hang and Hunt Setup
There are so many different kinds of deer hunting strategies you can use during the season. From spot and stalk approaches to deer drives to setting up in ambush locations, there’s something for nearly everyone. But depending on the tree cover and habitat in your hunting area, you may or may not have tried hang on stands in the past. Maybe you’re intimidated by them or don’t think they could be used in a true hang and hunt setup. But here’s how a few members of the Hunting Public use this strategy to consistently sneak in close to bedded deer and kill mature bucks. We’ll discuss the benefits of this approach, the best way to pack it into the woods, how to hang a tree stand, other essential hunting gear, and how to adjust your hunting tactics based on different areas.
But first, what exactly are we talking about when we say hang and hunt setup? This is a scenario where you want to quietly sneak in on the day of your hunt to hang a tree stand and then immediately climb up and start deer hunting. For this specific situation, we’re also defining it as using a hang on stand versus other types of tree stands (you don’t really “hang” ladder stands or climbers, do you?). Hang on stands, or lock on stands, consist of simple platforms with chairs that you attach to the tree of your choice with ratchet straps and cables. The chairs may be simple platforms themselves or comfortable mesh backs. Muddy® has several hang on stand options, including the Boss Elite AL or Original Muddy Boss XL. To get up into them, you need to attach several ladder sections (also called “climbing sticks”) to the tree – also using ratchet straps or rope. Some examples from Muddy® include the Pro Climbing Sticks or Ascender sticks.
Benefit Over Other Options
So what makes this hang and hunt setup better or more appropriate than other tree stands or options? There are several reasons below, but at its simplest, you couldn’t really call it a hang and hunt setup if you were propping up a ladder stand, could you?
- Tower stands and box blinds work great for hiding your movement and scent from deer, but they are obviously not very quiet to install. You will probably have to use tractors or heavy machinery to install them, which will likely put the local deer on high alert for at least the rest of that day.
- While ladder stands are somewhat mobile, they’re certainly not mobile in a hurry. They are also fairly loud to cart around through the woods and you definitely need a partner to do it. Moving one around would make it tough to hunt that area the same day, so it’s not ideal for this hunting application.
- Climbing stands are the other obvious mobile tree stand option besides the hang and hunt setup. After all, climbing tree stands are also quiet, easy to carry and use, and you can hunt as soon as you climb into them. But they are limited to straight and limbless trees under a certain diameter. If you live in an area with a lot of old gnarly oaks and cottonwoods, you know that climbers are fairly useless for you.
- Last, although you can quickly and quietly move ground blinds, they may spook the deer slightly if they’re not used to seeing them. You might be able to get away with that approach just by brushing them in well, but you would have to be very quiet doing so.
Importantly, a lot of this does come down to your own hunting preferences. Depending on which type of hunter you are and the area you hunt in, one of these other tree stands or blind options might appeal to you more. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be easy or good to hunt the same day you put it up.
How to Pack a Hang On Stand
In the video below, two members of the Hunting Public show you exactly how they use the hang and hunt setup to consistently kill mature deer each season, even sneaking in close to bedding areas. They’ve used it for many years with great success, and you can too. After the video, we’ll break it down further for you.
As you can see, it’s totally possible to pack a hang on stand and some climbing sticks on your back. You can easily bring it with you into remote locations, set up your stand, and hunt it without ever being noticed. Here’s the process they discussed broken down into several smaller steps.
You have a few options for carrying a tree stand and climbing sticks for a hang and hunt setup. The sturdiest and probably quietest option is to use the first method demonstrated in the video above. Using a ratchet strap, you can stack 2 or 3 climbing sticks together on each side of the tree stand platform (or 4 or 5 all in one stack), and then secure them all together. This approach makes no noise when you shake it, and you definitely won’t lose a climbing stick while walking in – plus, it leaves your hands free to carry your bow or rifle as you go just in case you get the chance to shoot a deer. Of course, if you’re not comfortable using a ratchet strap because you think it will be too loud to operate, you could also use bungee cords or even rope to strap everything together. It just might not be as quiet and secure.
Alternatively, you could stack all the climbing sticks together and ratchet strap them together to carry them separately. The downside to that approach, of course, is that you then can’t carry your weapon as easily. Another option they mention in the video above is a product called Stick Talons, which allows you to connect your climbing sticks to your stand platform in a few different configurations.
How to Hang a Stand
Next, you’ll need to know how to hang a tree stand by yourself. Once you get everything back into your hunting area, you need to keep your guard up more than ever. Accidentally banging it against a tree or letting the climbing sticks clang together will not help your chances of seeing a mature buck. As Aaron and Zach said in the video above, you can silently hang a tree stand yourself – it just takes a little more time and patience. Here’s the general process you should follow when doing a hang and hunt setup on your own.
First, make sure you are wearing a safety harness throughout the process of hanging your tree stand and hunting – it is an essential piece of your hang and hunt setup. You might be asking yourself, “Are lock on stands safe?” When used correctly, the answer is absolutely yes. But any time you leave the ground, you are taking a risk. So before you hang your first climbing stick on the tree, attach your safety harness to the trunk and periodically move it up with you as you climb.
As for hanging tree stand hacks, you can also tie ropes from your safety harness to each ladder section and your tree stand. That way, you can just pull up additional pieces as you go instead of climbing up and down each time. As you make your way up the tree, attach additional climbing sticks to whatever height you want to hang your stand at, making sure you thoroughly seat them on the tree by pushing down on them. When it’s time to hang your stand platform, pull it up and use the ratchet straps to attach it, again making sure you thoroughly push down on it. Of course, you also then need to know how to get in a hang on tree stand. Your last and highest climbing stick should be located directly underneath your tree stand platform. Use the platform to climb up into it, making sure you stay connected to the tree via your safety harness at all times.
Hang on stands are great for public land hunting because you can easily bring everything back with you, quickly set it up, and start hunting in short order. When you’re done for the day, you can pack it all back with you, since some public lands don’t allow you to keep stands on them. And again, you’re not limited by the kinds of trees present either.
Other Essential Hunting Gear
After you hang your tree stand, the idea is that you can start hunting immediately. That means you not only have to pack your tree stand and climbing sticks in – you also have to carry everything else you might need for a deer hunt. If you’re planning on only hunting a single afternoon on your own property, you don’t have to carry as much gear as you shouldn’t get lost and won’t need much. But if you’re hiking miles back on new public land, you should plan on packing food, water, and navigational help just in case you get lost. Here are a few essential hunting items you should pack with you on any given hunt.
- Backpack (quiet material with lots of gear loops)
- Hunting knife
- Extra ratchet straps and ropes
- Compass and map
- Water and snacks
- Clothing layers to suit the weather conditions
- Various deer calls (grunt call, doe can call, etc.)
- Scent elimination sprays or cover sprays
- Deer scents
Hang and Hunt Tactics
The last part of this hang and hunt setup is being in the right area so you can actually kill a deer – that is one of the goals, right? The deer hunting tactics you use will depend greatly on the area you are hunting in. For example, public lands will likely require you to move your stand with you wherever you go. On the other hand, if you’re hunting on private land, you could set up several hang on stands throughout your property and just bounce around between them depending on the weather conditions and wind. Here are a few ideas for you as you prepare to go hunting.
Public Land Big Woods
For heavily wooded public properties, you usually can’t effectively hunt feeding areas (since deer can browse throughout a broad area), so you need to depend on bedding areas or travel routes. If you’re bow hunting, you will need to be closer to the deer action than when hunting with a rifle or shotgun. A good way to do that is to set your tree stands about 15 to 20 yards away from major deer trails, especially if the trails come out of good bedding areas. During the middle of the day, you can quietly sneak into one of these areas without getting too close to the bedding area. After taking your time to set it up quietly, wait for the deer to file out of the bedding area along one of the trails. As long as you are high enough or in a tree with good branch structure and cover, the deer shouldn’t notice you.
Private Agricultural Areas
When you’re hunting on private land, especially those with agricultural fields or food plots in the region, your tactics and hang and hunt setup will change a bit. In these areas you can depend on deer traffic within and to fields and food plots where they will feed in the evening. As mentioned, you could hang several tree stands ahead of time in this situation. But sometimes you just need to try a new location because the deer are using a different approach or the wind isn’t right for your other areas. In that case, you can quietly bring a hang on stand to your desired area, quickly set it up, and hunt the deer as they come to feed.
So if the approach above sounds like it would work for you, grab your tree stand, climbing sticks, and bow or rifle, and head out to the woods. It’s not too late to use this hang and hunt setup and strategy this year. And if you take your time setting things up, you shouldn’t spook many deer in the process either.