Treestand theft a sign of the times
A few years ago, long before first light, I drove to the farm on which I have permission to hunt. It was a cold, wet November morning and I had a hard time getting out of bed, but the prospect of encountering a rutting buck made the process slightly easier. Upon arrival, I carefully picked my way in the dark along a creekbank and through a swampy area to my stand location, only to discover someone stole my tree stand, safety rope, harness and the homemade tree seat I left the morning before. Needless to say I felt violated, angry and discouraged.
Staring at the tree in which my equipment was set up, I stood in disbelief and wondered who could have stooped so low? It was partly my fault, I guess, because I didn’t have the stand chained to the tree as I should have. I was on private property and never thought to do so. It’s a sad time in which we live when other so-called sportsmen will encounter another person’s equipment and feel free to simply take it. Since that time I’ve taken steps to prevent or at least make it harder for some unscrupulous hunter to steal my equipment.
Now, after setting a stand, I securely lock it in place so if a person is intent on stealing it they will have to have a bolt cutter with them or they’ll have to cut down the tree in order to get it. There are commercial cables that work very well in discouraging theft, but they cost more than a few feet of chain obtained from the local hardware store. To make the bright chain less obvious, I spraypaint it a dark color in order to conceal the shiny surface. I then get a good lock and make sure to place one key with my car keys and the other in a safe place. I don’t want to take the chance of losing a key and not be able to recover my equipment after the season ends.
To keep my stand safe from the prying eyes of hunters and deer, I place it in good cover. A white pine or hemlock tree will help conceal it, but I take the extra step of adding additional brush under and around the stand to make it as unobtrusive as possible.
Once I’m satisfied with the location and my camouflage job I remove the bottom steps of my climbing sticks so that it’s difficult or impossible for a thief to climb the tree. I hide the steps a good distance from my stand in a brush pile and replace them before climbing the tree for an evening hunt. If I’m coming back for a morning hunt I’ll leave the steps in place.
Some guys may be tempted to hang a trail camera nearby, but I wouldn’t want my camera stolen as well. Besides, I want my trail cameras to monitor deer movement and not serve as a security camera.
Finally, if the worst should happen and my stand is stolen, I still have the opportunity to possibly recover it because I secretly mark the stand in an unobtrusive place with an engraving tool. This way I can identify it if it is ever recovered.
Unfortunately, we’ll always have those lowlifes among us and nothing is going to stop someone who really wants to steal another hunter’s stand, but we can at least take steps to discourage them.
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