Tree Stand Vs. Ground Blind: What's Best for Whitetail?

The tree stand vs. ground blind debate has long separated hunters on many topics, including decoying.

TREE STAND vs. Ground Blind

Ground blinds encourage sloppy hunting.

There. I've said it.

Comfy blinds make hunters believe they can get away with a lot of things they shouldn't be doing—like playing video games, eating excessively, and napping. (OK, I'll admit I envy the napping.) Stools creak, bows and rifles clunk against sidewalls and frames, and arrows catch on, well, everything in the blind.


Sure, tree stands are more demanding to hunt from. First, you've got to squelch your inner chicken and climb into the thing, often in the dark and up frosty steps or pegs. Then, you've got to sit still and be quiet—skills that seem to have been root-canaled from most of the "hunters" who prefer blinds. You've got to stay warm, and you've got to minimize your scent. And if you don't pay attention, a tree stand—or rather, the sudden lack of one beneath your feet—can hurt you badly or kill you.

Nothing puts you right into the heart of the whitetail woods like a tree stand. Unhampered by walls, you perch in the light of dawn as the world comes alive around you. Hanging above the forest floor, you hear, feel, and see far more than if confined to a blind, and when an opportunity presents, you're more mobile and adaptable to various shot presentations. Instead of being encapsulated in a container, you become one with the woods.

When a big buck filters past, you don't have to keep withdrawing your gun barrel or arrow from one porthole and stuffing it out through the next porthole in an attempt to get a shot. Plus, when hunting with a rifle, the elevation a tree stand provides gives you a far better field of fire, enabling you to see into hollows and over shrubbery that would be blind spots from a...uh...blind.


—Joseph Von Benedikt

Tree stand vs. GROUND BLIND

When you tell a non-hunter about the dangers of hunting, bear attacks and firearms accidents immediately come to mind, but never would they imagine that tree stands account for far more accidents than the others combined. Yes, tree stands are effective to hunt from, but if proper procedures and best practices aren't followed, climbing up into a tree does come with elevated risks. And though I hunt out of tree stands, and always wear a full body harness, I am much happier—and statistically safer—when my feet are planted firmly on the ground.

Safety aside, I like ground blinds for other reasons. If I want to check out a new area, or move spots during the day, it is simple and quick to pack up and move. Not so simple and quick with tree stands; they are often challenging to set up, take down, and transport.

The worst part of a tree stand is finding the perfect spot to hunt as well as finding the perfect tree—both are relatively easy to find separately but seldom do the two coincide. Lee Lakoski, noted whitetail hunter, once told me he first finds the perfect tree then bulldozes a clearing around it for a food plot. With a ground blind, you can essentially set up anywhere game is found, opening up far more choices.

I have no illusions that being high up completely shields me from a deer's nose. Any serious hunters feel devices like Ozonics, while they can work in tree stands, work better in the confined space of a ground blind.

Final point in favor of ground blinds: taking someone new hunting. A newbie can enjoy the experience more and learn considerably faster while sitting next to a mentor who can instruct, teach, and, ultimately, tell them when and what to shoot as they build their skill set.

—Mike Schoby



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