Building A Wooden Ladder Stand For Hunting
There is just something about wooden, homebuilt tree stands. Maybe it’s because I grew up hunting from them, but I just feel more comfortable in a home-built stand, especially when facing an all-day sit. More importantly, the permanent stand expresses just that: permanence. Even though a stand built on a shared property should be open to everyone, there is a very real sense of ownership if you are the one that built it. It’s not just a stand, its Dan’s Stand or Mark’s Stand or Scott’s Stand.
Our farm has a fair amount of pressure on it during the 9-day November gun season, with up to 10 guys spread out over 300-acres of woodlots, CRP and harvested crop fields. Many of the hunters have “their” stand location and have been at that specific spot for most of their lives. Over the last couple years, I’ve been using hanging stands to hunt a 20-acre section that for a variety of reasons, has not been heavily hunted for a decade or more. In that time, I’ve recognized it as a forgotten and ignored gem.
Bucks have scrapes and rubs to let everyone know they are around. I’ve got a wooden tree stand to let other hunters know they’ve entered my zone. By constructing it, I’ll be claiming this section of the farm as my own during the crowded gun season. Even though the secrets out on how good this location has been for me, the other hunters are respectful enough not to build another stand in the vicinity. As the sole bow hunter, I am lucky to have the farm to myself during the long and quiet archery season. With this new stand, I’ll have yet another comfortable set up to use when the conditions are right to hunt a buck from that location.
DIY Deer Hunter: Build a Wooden Ladder Stand
Below are instructions to build the stand. As a bit of a disclaimer, should you decide to take this project on for yourself, understand that your safety is in your own hands. Know the limits of your carpentry skills, and the potential risks involved in constructing your own stand.
2x4 x 14 treated lumber for the legs.
2x4 lumber for steps, stand platform, seat base and braces, uprights and rails
1x6 boards for decking
14- 5/16 x 4 hex bolts, with nuts and washers to assemble the stand
2 – 6-inch eyebolts with nuts and washers to attach a ratchet strap to.
2- 1/2 x 6 lag bolts with washers
2.5 inch deck screws for decking and ladder steps
Crosscut saw, electric drill, drill bits, square, tape measure.
- The treated 2x4’s will run the entire height of the stand. Decide how tall you want the side walls of the stand platform to be and measure that distance down from the top of the treated 2x4. Drill a pilot hole in each 2 x 4 at this location. This is where the platform will bolt on to.
- Build the platform base so that it will fit inside of the span created by the ladder. The overall width of my stand is 32 inches, so the floor frame works out to be 29 inches wide by 42 inches deep. Install a 2x4 floor joist in the center to help support the floor boards. On the back of the platform, pre-drill two holes for lag screws to be threaded through when mounting the stand to the tree.
- Cut 1x6 decking and attach to platform using screws
- Bolt the platform to the legs.
- Cut 2x4’s at 32-inch lengths to use as the steps for your ladder. Screw in a step every 18-inches or so until reaching just below the platform base.
- The seat frame consists of two, 42-inch, 2x4 rails running the length of the platform with 4, 32-inch long 2x4’s strung between them to make the seat itself. Bolt the front of the seat base to the ladder at your desired height above the platform.
- Cut two, 42-inch top rails. They will tie the ladder to the rear uprights.
- Cut two rear uprights to length. They should be level with the top of your treated 2x4’s. Bolt the uprights to the platform and top rail.
- Bolt the rear of the seat base to the upright using a eyebolt. Besides holding the seat base up, the eyebolts can be used to tighten a ratchet strap around the tree for added stability and support.
- With the stand in position, attach the braces between the ladder and the back of the platform base.
To get the stand standing, I brought my brother along for help and we were easily able to “walk” it from flat on the ground, to up against the tree. It’s going to take some repositioning of the stand itself to get it just right, so leave the bolts that hold the stand together just a little loose. You’ll tighten them up as you get the stand in place.
The platform is anchored to the tree using 2 lag bolts. You’ll need to bring along climbing sticks or a ladder to assist in placing the bolts, since the base of the platform will be 6-10 feet off the ground. To make this easier, I waited to screw in the floor boards until after I had secured the stand to the tree and ran the braces. As a secondary safety precaution, a ratchet strap is strung around the tree using the two eye bolts. Once the placement looks good, retighten all the bolts that hold the stand together, make sure your ratchet strap is in place, and you’re ready to hunt.
Improve and accessorize the stand by stapling camouflage fabric to the frame for additional concealment, and attaching your assorted gear hooks, camera arms, etc.
Getting a stand like this in place can sure be an exhausting job. The good news is, you’ll only have to do it once. On our farm in southern Minnesota, stands like this can last decades, only needing occasional and minor repair work.