Treestands: A Path to Higher Profit

Treestands and accessories can help you expand the hunting side of your business.

Treestands: A Path to Higher Profit

Climbing, ladder and hang-on treestands can help generate revenue and get hunters into your store.

As our parents repeatedly reminded us when we were children, money doesn’t grow on trees. There is, however, money to be found in tree stands.

Since tree stands are so effective for deer hunting, most hunters have at least one. And many hunters have literally dozens scattered throughout their deer hunting area.

Here’s how to make some additional income from those hunters who like to get a bird’s eye view while waiting for a big buck to come along.

Tree Stands 101

First, let’s look at the types of tree stands. Basically, there are three kinds.

The most common type, hang-on stands are simple stands that attach to a tree by a belt or chain and require steps or climbing sticks to access. Some are stable, others a little rickety. They are typically the lowest in price, so they appeal to new and budget-conscious hunters, and those who want stands in several locations. They’re light to carry, and some are even very comfortable.

Hang-on stands are made by nearly every tree stand company in the market. Some of the top makers to consider include Lone Wolf, Summit, Millennium, Muddy, Guide Gear, Gorilla, Rivers Edge and API Outdoors. The price of hang-on stands generally varies by weight, since making a lighter stand involves more expensive materials. MSRPs range from under $100 up to several hundred dollars.

Ladder stands, available in both single- and double-wide configurations, are usually very stable, and the attached ladder makes them safer to access than other stands. The real joys of ladder stands are how easy they are to climb into and how comfortable they are once you’re in them. However, they're heavy and most require a pickup to get them to your hunting spot and at least two people to put them in place.

Many ladder stands have a built-in shooting rest, which is a bonus for hunters using firearms, muzzleloaders or crossbows. However, such rests can get in the way of traditional archery hunters. Some top ladder stand makers include Millennium, Summit, Muddy, X-Stand, Gorilla and Hawk. Prices for bare-bones models start under $100, but top-quality stands with lots of additional features can cost up to $500.

The last kind, climbing stands, are two-piece stands that are used to climb a tree and then hunt from once the desired elevation is reached. They are less stable than ladder stands, but are easy to carry deep into the woods where the big bucks live. They are often used by younger, more aggressive hunters who don’t mind a long trek to largely inaccessible spots. But they’re nearly impossible to use for weaker hunters or those with bad shoulders.

Most climbing stands have backpack straps to make them easier to carry. Summit, which has been making climbers for years, makes some of the best and most popular climbing stands in a wide range of weights and prices. Other top manufacturers include API Outdoors, Hawk, X-Stand and Guide Gear.

Selling Points

With that information in mind, hunters consider many factors when selecting what tree stand to purchase. Fortunately, you can use these same factors in determining what tree stands you should carry in your stores.

Size is a critical factor. The main size consideration is getting a stand wide enough for the hunter who will be using it. For those who plan to hunt with a youngster or other hunter, double stands are a good choice. Most of these are ladder stands, but some double-wide hang-on stands are available. Some solo hunters still like using double stands because of the additional room and comfort they offer, especially in colder weather that requires heavier clothing. But, for average-size hunters who typically hunt alone, width isn’t really an important consideration.

Stand height is mainly related to ladder stands, since hang-on and climbing stands are more flexible in that consideration. Taller ladder stands are very popular and can put hunters up higher above a deer’s line of sight and into a better position to see their surroundings, but they’re also heavier and typically more expensive. For most trees, higher is better, so having a few taller ladder stands in your sales inventory is a good idea. It’s easy for a hunter with a tall ladder stand to just leave off the bottom section of the ladder to hunt a little lower, but it’s impossible for a hunter with a short stand to get any more height out of it.

A tree stand’s weight capacity is also important, especially for heavier hunters who don’t want to risk serious injury because of an equipment failure. Hunters should choose a tree stand with a weight capacity a good measure above their weight including their clothes and equipment. Consequently, retailers should stock at least a few stands with higher weight capacities to accommodate those looking for such stands.

Probably the most important factor in selecting a tree stand is comfort. If there’s one thing certain about deer hunting, it’s that if you’re not out in the woods or fields hunting, there’s no way you are going to bag a buck. Stands that are literally a pain in the butt aren’t conducive to long hunts. But a comfortable stand with lots of padding and a good back rest will allow hunters to sit longer — an important aspect of success. It’s good to carry some budget tree stands, but don’t overlook high-dollar stands that offer more comfort. Some hunters are willing to pay that premium.

Accessory Sales

Tree stand accessories can also be lucrative items to keep in stock, and there are plenty of accessories to enhance hunters’ comfort, safety, convenience and success.

As mentioned earlier, hang-on stands — the simplest and usually most inexpensive type of tree stands — require a hunter to climb a tree to get to them. The best tool for that chore is a good set of climbing sticks. These devices usually come in several sections that are attached together and then strapped in place against a tree, giving hunters direct ladder access to their stands.

Because they come in sections, hunters can leave some in the truck to climb up to lower stands. But as mentioned with ladder stands, if a hunter’s climbing sticks are too short to get to the stand, they are basically worthless. Climbing sticks come in a wide range of prices, which are largely determined by how much they weigh. Obviously, lighter climbing sticks are handier and more expensive. Some companies that make good climbing sticks include API, Hawk and Big Game.

Accessory hangers are another product used in conjunction with tree stands because they put equipment right at the hunters’ fingertips while also keeping gear out of the way where it can’t be knocked to the ground. Hangers range from simple screw-in hooks to belt-like units that strap to the tree and have multiple hooks for calls, binoculars, etc. Big Game makes a Multi-Hook Accessory Hanger that provides a good add-on sales opportunity with those buying a tree stand.

Bow hangers are popular because they allow hunters to keep their bows ready for action but hold them out of the way until they are needed. Like accessory hangers, bow hangers range from simple screw-in hooks to belt-like, wrap-around hangers. HME Products makes a strap-on bow hanger that works well and retails for under $20.

A number of companies make umbrellas for hang-on and ladder stands, enabling hunters to stay in the woods even during inclement weather. Most easily attach to the tree with ratchet straps. While an umbrella might seem like a luxury, if it keeps the hunter in the stand longer it can be instrumental in making the hunt a success.

Some kind of line or cord to pull guns, bows and other heavy items safely up into the stand, leaving hands free for climbing, is also a near necessity, at least for safety-minded hunters. Most are quite simple with a snap on one end, and many companies offer them. Several companies, including Big Game and Hunter Safety Systems, even offer retractable reels that take up and store the line after use, making them easier to pack and transport.

Other accessories include strap-on shooting rails to provide a solid rest for a well-placed shot, camouflage blind kits that help hide hunters from a deer’s prying eyes and footrest kits that give hunters a spot to place their feet where they will be more comfortable sitting for an extended period.

Last but not least, hunters should never climb into a tree stand without a top-quality safety harness. And since it is a matter of life and death, retailers shouldn’t offer tree stands to their customers without also providing them the opportunity to purchase a safety harness.

Nearly all tree stand companies offer safety harnesses, and many are available from companies that don’t make tree stands. Hunter Safety Systems offers a number of high-quality harnesses that should fit most customers’ needs. Other companies that make quality safety harnesses include Summit, X-Stand and Muddy.

Fact is, more deer hunters are killed and injured each year in tree stand accidents than in any other manner. Don’t make your customers settle for any old safety harness. Carry a selection of harnesses that are easy to use and comfortable to wear. If either of those attributes aren’t present, hunters are more likely to leave their harness in the truck.

Sitting in tree stands is not only one of the most popular ways to hunt deer in many parts of the country, it’s also among the most productive. Offering hunters the gear they need to get up above the fray is just smart business.


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