You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers (and if we don’t, we’ll make them up). Every day, fellow MeatEaters send us more than 100 emails regarding hunting, fishing, cooking, conservation, and more. So, we decided to publish a series dedicated to our favorite FAQs. This is Ask MeatEater.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how high you should hang your tree stands. But by considering three factors, you can get to an answer that’s right for your situation.
First, you need to consider how tree stand height can help you stay out of sight of approaching deer. The higher you are in the tree, the more likely you are to be out of a deer’s normal line of sight. This clear benefit leads some hunters to hang stands 25 feet or higher. But there are downsides to extreme heights too, which we’ll get to later. Fortunately there are other means of achieving invisibility, most notably by using the natural cover in the tree (trunk, branches, and leaves). In my opinion, this is the most important factor, so I’ll generally set my stand at whatever height nestles me into the best available concealment.
The second thing to consider is how tree stand height impacts the flow of your scent. The higher you are, the higher your scent will flow away from you. This creates a larger cone of safety beneath you where your scent will blow right over deers’ heads. So, add another point to the scorecard for hanging your stands high.
But, as I mentioned, there is a downside to being too high, and that’s the negative impact of steep shooting angles created by elevation. The higher you get in the air, the smaller the window you’ll have at the vital zone on a deer. If you’re up 30 feet or more, it’s a very narrow sliver of the lungs and heart that you can realistically aim toward and hit. These steep angles are also notoriously tough on shooting form and often produce hits off the mark.
Given the desire to be high enough to stay out of sight and blow scent over nearby deer, but not so high as to negatively affect shots, I generally aim to set my stands between 17 and 22 feet. But this is not hard rule—I’ll always adjust based off the best available cover in the tree. If that means I need to be at 12 feet or 23 feet, so be it.