Essential Tree Stand Maintenance Tips for a Safe Hunting Season

Written By John VanDerLaan 

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Here at DeerHuntingGuide.net, hunt preparation doesn’t end just because the hunting season is over. Spring and summer is a great time for tree stand maintenance and beginning to prepare for next season. This guide will outline the key steps for inspecting, cleaning, and storing your tree stand to prevent accidents and extend its life. Expect practical advice on critical safety checks and how to keep your gear in top condition throughout the seasons.

Key Takeaways

  • A comprehensive pre- and post-season inspection routine for tree stands is crucial for hunter safety and for identifying potential issues with components like metal clips, cables, and fasteners.
  • Regular cleaning, lubrication, and proper storage of tree stand components, including cables, straps, and metal surfaces, are essential for preserving their condition and preventing wear, rust, and damage.
  • Detailed maintenance including tightening loose parts, replacing worn or damaged components, and treating metal surfaces with rust-preventive measures is vital to ensuring the safety and functionality of tree stands.

Pre- and Post-Hunting Season Tree Stand Care

While safety is a vital concern in all hunting activities, it becomes the primary focus when discussing tree stands. Ensuring the integrity of your tree stand ahead of the deer hunting season, and preserving it once the season concludes, is not just about prolonging its lifespan; it’s about ensuring your wellbeing in the upcoming deer seasons. Detailed coverage of tree stand maintenance, which includes tightening loose parts, replacing worn or damaged components, and treating metal surfaces, will follow.

Initiating a comprehensive inspection routine is an important initial step for tree stand care, both before and after the hunting season. This routine will help you identify any potential issues early on, preventing accidents and ensuring a safe hunting season.

Cleaning and lubrication, another significant aspect of tree stand care and can notably prolong your tree stand’s life, ensuring it remains in prime condition for successive hunting seasons.

Concluding with some useful storage tips to safeguard your tree stand from off-season damage. Proper storage not only preserves your tree stand but also ensures that it’s ready to use when the next hunting season comes around.

Let’s further explore each of these areas.

Inspection Routine

Hanging A Lock-on Tree Stand

Any maintenance routine should commence with a comprehensive inspection. Before the opening day of deer season, and after its close is a great time to closely inspect your tree stands for signs of damage or wear. The aim is to ensure that all components are in good shape and ready to withstand the weight and weather conditions they’ll face during the hunting season.

Pay special attention to the metal clips or eyes at the ends of tree stand cables, checking for rust or severe nicks. These are critical fasteners that need to be as strong as the cables themselves. Failure to closely inspect these components could lead to a break, which could result in a fall from the tree stand. So, don’t rush through this step. Your safety depends on it.

Cleaning and Lubrication

Lubricating Treestand Parts

Another integral part of maintenance is the cleaning and lubrication of your tree stand. Not only does it keep your gear in good condition, but it also extends its life, saving you from having to replace it prematurely. When cleaning your tree stand, don’t forget to pay attention to the condition of the plastic coating on the cables. This coating serves to prevent noise during use and to protect the metal wires from moisture.

If the plastic coating on the cables has large rips or peels, it’s a clear sign that you need to replace them immediately. Failure to do so could lead to corrosion or fraying, which could result in cable failure. After cleaning, lubricate all bolts and other metal components using a non-scented lubricant, such as plumber’s silicone grease, to prevent rust and corrosion.

Storage Tips

Millennium Hang On Tree Stand

Upon the conclusion of the hunting season, it’s time to store your hang on stands, climbing stands and ladder stands - don’t simply abandon it in a corner of your garage for weeks. Proper storage is crucial to preserving the integrity of your tree stand.

We recommend storing your tree stand and related equipment in a dry, temperature-controlled environment, such as a garage or an insulated shed. This helps protect them from damage due to moisture and temperature fluctuations. If possible, cover your tree stand with a tarp or store it inside to protect against weathering and degradation. 

I have hooks in my garage walls, where I hang my climbing stands and lock-on stands by the cables.

I stack the ladder sections of the ladder stands against the wall, and store the platforms on the floor.

I make it a point to replace all ratchet straps every year, whether they look worn or not. They are just too important to take any chances with them.

Thorough Examination of Tree Stand Components

RELATED: Lightest Hang On Tree Stands

Treestand Platform

Having covered the basics of pre- and post-season care, it’s time to delve into the specifics of tree stand examination. A closer look at your tree stand’s components can reveal issues not immediately visible during regular maintenance. This thorough inspection is critical to ensuring your tree stand’s safety and longevity.

The components that require close inspection include:

  • Platforms
  • Frames
  • Seats
  • Welds
  • Mesh
  • Pivot points
  • Ladder rungs
  • Stabilizer posts
  • Receivers
  • Powder coating
  • Cables
  • Seat fabric
  • Straps
  • Chains
  • Safety lines

These components can show signs of wear, rust, and metal fatigue, especially in parts of the stand that bend or move. Testing all moving parts and locking mechanisms is also importantl to ensure they operate correctly and are not compromised.

Let’s break down these components into more digestible categories: platforms, frames, and seats; straps, chains, and safety lines; and climbing sticks and ladder sections. Each of these areas requires a different approach to inspection and maintenance, and we’ll guide you through each one.

Platforms, Frames, and Seats

Looking Up From The Ground At A Tree Stand

We’ll begin with the platforms, frames, and seats. Regular examination of these components is critical, especially at the juncture where the platform affixes to the seat cushions, as well as at the stabilizer post, receiver, and areas where platforms fold to the seat.

Inspect cables for any signs of rust, wear, or damage; it is recommended to replace cables every two years depending on exposure. Also, check the powder coating on metal surfaces for integrity and signs of rust. Seat fabric and straps must be checked for wear or fraying. Squirrels are notorious for tearing up seats and foam cushions. If anything appears compromised, you should replace these parts using manufacturer-sourced components to ensure the safety and comfort of the hunter.

Straps, Chains, and Safety Lines

hunter Hanging From His Safety line

Moving on, let’s consider the straps, chains, and safety lines, components that are often overlooked but play a vital role in your safety. Tree stand safety harnesses, for example, generally have a typical service life of five years, contingent upon regular inspection and proper maintenance.

Straps used for strap-on steps and those exposed to outdoor conditions should be checked annually and are recommended to be replaced at least once a year to prevent failures due to fraying or dry rot. Ratchet strap and safety lines, vulnerable to elements like UV light and potential damage from small mammals, should ideally be replaced every two years to ensure continuous safety. To maintain the highest level of safety, consider using high-quality replacement straps for your equipment.

Finally, chains utilized in camLOCK receivers must be carefully examined to confirm the integrity of each link to prevent a potential structural failure.

Climbing Sticks and Ladder Sections

Climbing Up A Ladder Stand

Lastly, we discuss the climbing sticks and ladder sections. These components are essential for accessing your tree stand, and regular inspections are key to ensuring proper function and safety.

Inspect welds, screws, bolts, and nuts as part of your safety gear routine to identify any wear or damage. You can use Loctite to secure loose wingnuts on U-shaped braces of ladder sections, which prevents issues caused by over-tightening.

Essential Maintenance Tasks

By this point, you should be well-versed in what to inspect during a comprehensive examination of your tree stand. But inspection is just part of the equation. It’s also necessary  to perform essential maintenance tasks, including:

  • Tightening loose parts
  • Replacing worn or damaged components
  • Treating metal surfaces
  • Lubricating moving parts
  • Checking and replacing straps or cables as needed

By regularly performing treestand maintenance tasks, you can ensure that your tree stand remains safe and in good working condition.

Disassembling tree stands allows for a thorough deep cleaning, providing the opportunity to uncover and address any hidden issues. After maintenance is complete, it’s essential to clean, dry, and properly store the tree stand, thereby protecting it from damage and ensuring it’s ready for the next season.

We’ll delve into each of these tasks and understand their importance.

Tightening Loose Parts

Close up of Bolt And Teeth On A Hang On Tree Stand

Tightening loose parts is a straightforward task. Loose nuts, bolts, and other connections can compromise the stability and safety of your tree stand, which could lead to accidents.

Ensure locknuts or knobs that have come loose are tightened, check the integrity of powder coating on metal parts, and pay special attention to U-shaped braces on ladder sections which are prone to loosening. Check the tightness of wingnuts and consider the use of Loctite on bolt threads to prevent loosening, but be careful not to over-tighten as it can indent the metal tube framing; retire any ladder sections with visible damage.

Replacing Worn or Damaged Components

Replacing worn or damaged components is another essential task. This includes everything from safety harness systems to steps designed to screw into the tree. For example, if you notice sap buildup and thread wear on these steps, it’s time to replace them for safety reasons.

Examine pins at pivot points on steps for signs of rust or deformation that could impair the stability and security of those steps. Check aluminum cast components of tree stands for any breaks or cracks. If any part of climbing sticks or ladder sections is damaged, use factory replacements and contact the manufacturer if parts are not readily available.

Treating Metal Surfaces

Treating metal surfaces is a key part of tree stand maintenance. This involves applying rust-preventive measures, such as vegetable oil, and lubricants to prevent rust and corrosion.

If you detect rust, take immediate action by cleaning the rusted area, sanding it, and applying primer and paint formulated for metal. Extensive rust damage requires stripping the metal to bare before refinishing with primer and paint. Utilizing a rust encapsulating spray or rust inhibitor can help manage rust issues if it has already established on the metal surface.

Preparing Your Tree Stand Site

Bowhunter climbing a 2 man ladder stand

With your tree stand in excellent condition, it’s now time to prepare your tree stand site before hanging your stand. A well-prepared site can significantly increase your chances of a successful hunt. The prep work involves clearing paths to your tree stand, trimming shooting lanes.

A clear path to your tree stand not only makes it easier for you to access your stand, but it also ensures a silent approach, preventing you from alerting deer to your presence. Similarly, well-trimmed shooting lanes increase your chances of a clear, successful shot.

As for your hunting blinds and shooting houses, regular inspection and maintenance are essential. You should check for and repair any structural damage to ensure safety and functionality. Also check your hunting chairs for safe and quiet use. Now is a great time to lubricate any moving parts on your chairs to ensure they remain quiet when the moment of truth arrives. And remember to remove all trash and food at the end of the season to prevent attracting rodents and other pests.

Clearing Paths and Trimming Shooting Lanes

Looking Out From A Ground Blind

Now that you have chosen a strategic location for your stand, clearing paths and trimming shooting lanes may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many hunters overlook this essential task. A clear, silent approach route to your stand or hunting blind is key. It allows you to remain undetectable to game, increasing your chances of a successful hunt.

Trimming shooting lanes is another important task. These lanes must provide clear shots along likely travel routes of deer. Pre-season trimming of shooting lanes should occur in late summer to avoid new growth during hunting season and minimize disruption to wildlife. I like to bring a portable archery target to each of my bow hunting stands and take some shots to make sure that the shooting lanes are clear for the trajectory of my arrows.

Summary

Tree stand maintenance is much more than an off season chore. It’s an important part of ensuring a safe and successful hunting season. By following the tips and tricks laid out in this blog post, you can keep your tree stand in top-notch condition, prolong its lifespan, and most importantly, ensure your safety during the hunting season. So, the next time you head out into the woods for a hunt, you can do so with confidence, knowing that your tree stand is as ready as you are.

RELATED: Best Two Man Ladder Stands

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean tree stands?

Make sure to clean off tree stands by hosing them down with clean freshwater and giving them a thorough once-over. Additionally, consider touch-up painting as they often need it after a few seasons of use.

What not to do in a tree stand?

To ensure your safety in a tree stand, never climb with anything in your hands or on your back, and always inspect and maintain the stand before each use. Avoid modifying the tree stand in any way to prevent accidents.

How long should you leave a tree stand attached to a tree?

You should not leave a tree stand attached to a tree for more than one season. Always check your stand before each use and never exceed the weight limit.

Is it worth sitting in a tree stand all day?

It can be worth sitting in a tree stand all day if the conditions are perfect, especially during the rut, when deer are on their feet all day long. 

How often should I inspect my tree stand?

Inspect your tree stand before and after the deer season, and conduct regular inspections during the hunting season to ensure it remains safe and secure. Regular maintenance is key to a safe hunting experience.

Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

John VanDerLaan is the managing editor here at DeerHuntingGuide.net. He oversees a team of editors, writers and pro staff that are subject matter experts in hunting and hunting gear. John's expertise includes thoroughly testing all types of hunting gear, as well as hunting all over the U.S. and Canada. While his hunting expertise includes game birds, small game and large game, his favorite game animal is the whitetail deer and he loves to share the knowledge that he has gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail with both archery gear and firearms. John is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

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