Any public land hunter knows that protecting your treestand from theft is necessary, but thieves don’t call private land off limits either. It can happen 100 yards from an access point or 10 miles in the backcountry.
I’ve always hunted public land, which means if I don’t want to constantly trek in with a stand on my back, I have to leave it in the woods. State laws prohibit me from leaving my climber attached to a tree, so I will stick it in a nearby pile of brush and lock it up. That saves me more than a mile of walking with some extra weight.
At the tail-end of deer season a few years ago, I lost my cable lock, but continued to hide the stand. I thought that surely no one would go through the trouble of stealing something that far back in the woods. But, one fateful morning, when I walked up on my tree, just a few yards from some real good buck sign, my climber was nowhere to be found. I scratched my head trying to figure out what had happened. Of course, I knew it had been stolen. With only a few weeks left in the season, I wished I was looking in the wrong brush pile.
Needless to say I spent that hunt frustrated, sitting between the branches of a fallen tree. And, wouldn’t you know it, I saw a buck that spooked before ever coming into bow range.
Even if you’ve never had any problems with theft on your property before, it can’t hurt to take precautions. Just a few more minutes of extra work will help to ensure you don’t have a morning like I did.
Lock It Up
The best way to keep your stand in the woods is to lock it to the tree you’re hunting. If it’s a lock on, use a cable or chain to secure its base, then pull down the bottom half of the ladder. Simply lock ladder stands to the tree.
If you use a climber, you’ll have to lower the top half as close to the bottom as you can, then lock it to the tree with a cable lock or chain. However, it’s best to take the stand off of the tree and conceal it somewhere nearby, and lock it to a fallen log or tree. This way your stand isn’t in open sight because most cable locks can be easily snapped with bolt cutters. If state laws prohibit having a stand in hunting position (attached to a tree) on public land, you’ll have to hide it, anyways.
Use a Trail Camera
A trail camera set up near your treestand will work as a set of eyes while you’re not around. Of course, you’ll need to take measures to hide it so it isn’t stolen, as well. Position the camera away from your stand location, conceal it, then lock it in place. For added precaution, try hanging the camera at least six feet up the tree and angle it down. A trail camera won’t stop your stand from getting stolen, but it could aid in providing evidence in the event of a theft.
Report Incidents Immediately
If you’ve done everything you can yet still fall victim to theft, call your local authorities or wildlife enforcement agency to file a report as soon as you can. Include unique identifiers, such as a seat patched up with Duct tape, in the report, as well. While it may be a stretch, cruise marketplace sites and social media for people pawning off your equipment.
Hopefully, after taking a few precautions, you’ll spend the season in your treestand rather than searching for a new one.