Bugging Out in a Tree? Really?

The typical outdoorsman will simply take a trip to the local Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop, and purchase a tree stand to improve his hunting vantage points. For those who are prepping for long-term survival in the wilderness, a tree stand could potentially save their lives in certain situations and even provide shelter in a pinch.

Tree stands made for long-term survival will have to be built from scratch to not only blend into its surroundings, but also contain features specific to the locale and situation.

The Basics

No matter what you plan to use your tree stand for, building it will require some universal tools and a few specialty ones depending on your final goal. One general characteristic of all tree stands is that it needs to be anywhere from 25 to 30 off the ground.

You will be working at heights that can cause severe injury (or even death) in the event of a fall. Practice all safety precautions when building your tree stand. Consider renting an extension ladder to make the job easier and more efficient. It will provide easy access to the lumber and tools necessary for construction. You’ll have the opportunity to build your main tree stand and a secondary one with the time and energy you’ll save.

Lumber can be had for cheap if you exercise a little due diligence. Locate small lumberyards online and speak with the manager or owner in-person. Show up with your truck and cash, so they know you’re serious about getting a deal done. There’s a good chance the yard has a few distressed bundles of wood that are infested with bugs or may have been returned by unhappy customers for whatever reason.

The bug problem is easily remedied by freezing the wood or sealing it in plastic for a month or two. Some yard managers may even give you the lumber for free just to get rid of it.

wildlife observation point - raised blind
wildlife observation point – raised blind

The Tree House

Keep in mind, not all tree stands have to be attached to a tree. One blogger referred to a 20-foot freestanding model as “The Condo.” The small dwelling with a roof and enough space to sleep, sits atop stilts made of pressure-treated wood. For good measure, the stand is secured by four-feet-deep mobile home anchors. This ensures a sturdy climb, and the ability to withstand high winds.

A tree stand like this will take time and a little more money to build. Pick up a book on how to build children’s tree houses. The plans are very similar for building a dwelling-type tree stand, and of course will emphasize safety because children will ultimately be playing in it. Once completed, you have instantly created yourself a place to locate and hunt deer, a look-out tower, and even a shelter in the event of catastrophic flooding.

Your Cover

A tree may appear perfect for building your stand in the summer. But come autumn, all of its leaves will fall off, leaving your tree stand completely exposed. A simple, inexpensive way to handle this is by locating an oak, beech or evergreen tree. These species hold their leaves longer as temperatures drop come late September.

Cut limbs from these trees and attach them to those limbs  your stand is located. Use zip ties to attach them. If your tree doesn’t have many limbs, attach flag brackets to the tree and let the limbs hang from them. This will keep your tree stand hidden from animals and will also disguise it from other people.

A store-bought tree stand will suffice for those taking the occasional deer hunting trip. But a little extra effort is necessary for long-term solutions.

by CM

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6 thoughts on “Bugging Out in a Tree? Really?”

  1. My brother and I constructed a raised platform at our property. Its not tall, the 2×6 planked floor deck about 5′-0″ off the ground. The walls are about 5′-0 tall, with wide openings in the centers for ventilation. It is about 10′-0″ square. The idea was to be able to back a pickup bed almost underneath it for easy loading / unloading. That was not to be – the platform is under a 2 vehicle canopy that protects it from rain and sun, but it is not high enough to allow the tail gate to clear the bottom and maintain clear head room. It can be backed up to it and that is enough – we leave a wood picnic table in fact to allow easy access to it.

    We also have hunting blinds, the same as shown above. Not many trees and those that grow have wide canopies – no climbing tree stands here.

  2. Very inconspicuous, almost could’nt find it the pic.
    If you’re beneath the stand…stay away from the hole above.

  3. The last ‘condo’ I hung out in was sandbagged perimeter and floor. I always though a target was painted on the side of the thing. Worse than being in the condo was climbing up or down. Never more exposed.


  4. I totally agree with Panhandle Rancher —
    Possibly viewed the “lower horizon” from the same locations.
    Those towers were built strong (about the same as a forest fire tower), high up and we did have a 50 cal and an early Starlight scope. But no steps — entry was a loooong ladder surrounded by canvas so the “unfriendlies” couldn’t see if a GI was going up or down.
    Inside was sandbagged, as was the perimeter around the base. It probably had protection against AK47 and 12.7 fire, but that “bullseye” you mentioned had “aim here with your RPG” written all over it.
    No big snakes like the ground bunkers occasionally played host to, but I’ll still say no thanks to being up high– I’ll take my chances on the ground where I can at least move about.

  5. No thanks.

    I have a 12’x16′ condo/penthouse, solar power, propane heat, TV, AM/FM/CD, 17′ off the ground with 36″ wrap around stairs. Built the thing in the shop. Tools required. Skid Steer and attachments, Bucket truck, car trailer, Crane, MIG Welder, Chop Saw, Air nail guns, circular saw, chain saw, wide range of cordless tools, Table saw, Carpenter’s Square, Paint Brush, caulk gun, and a professional carpenter(me). Average Joe would kill himself. No need to be 30′ off the ground unless you are a tower climber looking for exercise on the weekend.

    Great place during peacetime, otherwise not so much.


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