I used to be a nosebleed cowboy. It just wasn’t hunting unless I was 25 feet in the air. There were a few occasions where I hunted lower. In one case, my feet were barely 8 feet off the ground, and I managed to bag back-to-back bucks out of that tree. However, it never got me to thinking about changing.
Then about 7 years ago, I bought a buddy-style ladder stand so that my son could come with me. It was only 15 feet high. My luck started to improve, and I now keep the climber in the shed, and I just set my sixth buddy stand last weekend.
I am not trying to say that 15 feet is better than 25 feet. However, I don’t feel the need to be up in the stratosphere anymore. There is a difference between 15 and 25. At 15 more deer see me. That’s for sure. However, most deer don’t seem to care. There are a few exceptions, and these seem to be deer that are keyed to the idea of danger from above going in.
However, the perceived danger seems to be the whole gestalt of tree stand and hunter and location. I’ve fixed that problem in a couple of instances by doing a change-up and either changed to a different stand type or a different location. I have a buddy who had a problem doe and just moved his stand lower on the tree for muzzleloader season– the doe did not realize the switch until just as the hammer fell. My point is that you are going to have this sort of thing at any height.
My experience is that height seems to be one tool in the arsenal. However, I would say that height should not be considered an end unto itself. We have twenty deer from those 15 foot buddy stands, and most were shot with either a bow or taken from within easy bow range. I can also tell you that it is a rare occasion that I don’t have an animal present a shot to me while hunting from those stands.