Author: Jackie Holbrook
Treestand hunting is popular in many parts of the country, and there are several different styles of stands. The most popular style varies by geographic location, influenced by the type of hunting bowhunters plan to do and the type of land available to hunt. When choosing what styles of stand to carry in the shop and how to connect with customers, here’s some advice from shops across the country.
Ladder stands are popular among bowhunters who own or lease private land across most areas of the country. They consist of a platform and ladder. Using the ladder is the easiest way to climb into a treestand.
“Ladder stands are getting to be a big thing in our area,” said Charlie Miodus with C+C Archery & Outdoors in Girard, Pennsylvania. “As bowhunters age, I think some guys want the ease of walking in, getting up and starting the hunt right away.”
Ladder stands vary in size. Some versions can fit multiple hunters. Due to their larger size, many versions are extremely comfortable, but they have a downside of being extremely heavy.
“We sell a lot of them to people with private land that drive the stands in using their trucks or side-by-sides,” said Dane Leonard, a bow technician at Extreme Outfitters in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Though ladder stands sell well in areas with high densities of private-land hunters, some archery shop owners choose not to carry them because they take up too much space in their retail storefronts. This is especially true for archery shops that are located in bigger cities where there are also bigger retailers that have more room to display large ladder stands.
Hunters use climbing sticks with lock-on stands. Photo Credit: Bowhunters United
Fixed-position lock-on stands are used with tree steps or climbing sticks. They can appeal to customers who need to access locations by foot, ATV or boat. These stands can sell well in Western states and Alaska where treestand hunting isn’t super popular, but some hunters hang treestands in more remote areas. These stands offer bowhunters more mobility than ladder stands because they’re lighter and easier to transport. That’s why these stands are popular in areas where land access is more difficult. They also take up less space in the shop.
Climbing stands are great for hunters that hunt multiple locations. Photo Credit: Bowhunters United
Climbing stands or “climbers” are a popular choice for mobile bowhunters who want to hunt multiple locations.
“Climbers are the most popular stand that we sell,” Miodus said. “You know it’s portable, so guys can get in and out of the woods quickly.”
Miodus says he typically sells climbers to customers who are hunting multiple locations on public land. Climbers are typically cost-effective because hunters can purchase one stand to use in multiple places. However, some areas are seeing diminished sales in climbers because of a rise in the popularity of tree saddles.
Saddle stands offer hunters extra mobility. Photo Credit: Bowhunters United
“Saddle stands are the fastest-growing stand niche that we’re seeing,” said Derek Vaughn with Sunrise Archery in Fenton, Michigan. “They’re replacing mobile setups, especially climbers, that are bulkier and heavier.”
Vaughn says he typically sees younger bowhunters asking for saddles. Customers tell Vaughn they prefer them for their packability and light weight.
Leonard says he sees more customers asking for saddle stands because of the freedom of movement. “They can move around into different positions,” Leonard said. “They can turn to the right angle, and in bowhunting that value is huge. They don’t have the constraints of the typical self-climber or lock-on stand.”
There are also benefits to archery shops, especially ones that are short on space. “I can hang them in the aisle with the regular products,” Leonard said.
One of the downsides to tree saddles is that they are more expensive than a traditional climbing stand. This cost may be a barrier to what bowhunters can afford.
The best way to judge which stand a customer needs is to assess where they’ll be hunting. Ask how they plan to access the land and if they want to hunt multiple locations. It’s important to remind them of the rules in your area for labeling equipment and how long they can leave the stand up. It’s also important to talk to them about their level of comfort with climbing. And never forget to talk to them about safety.
“Regardless of the type of treestand that they decide, we explain to them anything can happen when you’re climbing, so you always need to wear a harness,” Miodus said. Carrying what’s right for your shop comes down to understanding the area, tracking sales and communicating with customers.