Tree stand hunting is a strategy used by many big game hunters. Before tree stands, hunters used blinds, drives, or stalked their prey. Scent, camo, and smarts were important.
The advantage of a tree stand is that hunters can get off the ground. This means that scent and movement are less of a concern. 12-20 feet tall allows the hunter to adjust their angle, prepare for a shot, and observe the deer or critter before they can observe them. For a guide or outfitter, clients are told to remain in the stand for safety and better chances of tagging a critter.
Tree stands worked great at first, but generations of deer and elk have learned to look up and follow their noses. Hunters leave scent in a circle around the stand, depending on the wind and air temperature. It gives the hunter an edge, most of the time.
Most big game hunting in Montana is from the ground. Rarely do Montana hunters sit and wait. We mainly still hunt into the wind. The use of optics is also vital to success. We are not dealing with 3–6-acre plots. Our ranges are much larger.
I used my 10×42 binos to spot 2 bucks at over 300 yards, one was an 8 point and the other was a 10. I also used my optics to scan for a way to close the distance. My single shot 30-06 Ruger 31 can shoot well, but it’s called hunting. Getting close is more accurate and intimate. I put on the stalk and got within 100 yards. One shot, one kill.
Stand hunting is certainly comfortable, but is it ethical? Many box stand hunters also bait to attract the critters, where legal. This does not seem to be a fair chase. Eastern hunters are used as game management and are required to reduce annual deer herd sizes. Too many deer mean more car strikes. Insurance companies promote deer harvests and baiting.
Stand hunting can get carried away. Some stands that I sat on were freezing cold, windy, or dangerous. Modern box stands have Pella windows, heaters, and tv. Maybe this is not hunting. The box hunt still requires patience but not if you can play video games until the buck comes to your bait pile.
A true honest fair chase hunt means stalking, spotting, accurate shooting, along with camo, and true hunting skills.
I know that some areas have limited access. Other areas have been sucked up by outfitters. Results ensure future booked hunts. Baiting means hungry and predictable critters. Shooting from a comfortable and warm stand is a huge advantage. You get what you pay for.
Hunting has changed and will continue to change.