Can you bow hunt without a tree stand?

bowhunter in a tree stand

You may think that modern bow hunting can only be done from a tree stand; however, there are all kinds of reasons that you may not be able to get into a tree when you’re out hunting.

Maybe you’re not in a good place to set up a tree stand or maybe you just don’t want to or don’t have one.

In this post we’ll look at some ways that you can effectively bow hunt without a tree stand.

Do I need a tree stand to bow hunt?

If you’re not in a tree, you’re going to be on the ground.

Bow hunting from the ground was the way that bow hunting was done originally and it can still be done today.

You can even bow hunt successfully from the ground without using as much cover as you would have in a typical deer blind used for rifle hunting.

How to bow hunt from the ground

What are some effective ways to get started bow hunting on the ground?

You need to find the right spot, get the right set up, and make sure that you can make the shot without scaring the deer off.

Picking a spot

When you get out to find your spot to set up, there are some key things to look for.

First you want to find an area where you know there is going to be traffic.

This means looking for a trail between bedding and feeding areas or a spot where you already know deer frequently walk through.

You do not want to bow hunt from the ground in a feeding or bedding area.

Deer are typically on a higher alert in places where they commonly feed or sleep, but less wary on the trails to and from their desired location.

It’s a good practice to set up in a halfway point between two areas on a trail that you know is likely to get traffic.

How to set up

There are a few different ways you can set up your ground spot.

No set up is going to be exactly the same but there are some things to look for when getting your spot ready.

The very first thing to not when going bow hunting on the ground is that you will have more success finding cover in the earlier part of the season.

When the foliage and greenery start to die in November and December, you will have a harder time finding a good spot on the ground without a little effort.

When looking for a spot to set up, you want to make sure you have both horizontal and vertical cover.

For horizontal cover you can find something like a fallen tree or just some foliage to get behind and break up your silhouette.

For vertical cover you’re looking for something like a tree or rock to put behind you and make you harder to see.

bow hunter hunting from the ground and using a tree as cover.

You could also just use a tree in front of you as your blind.

If you do this, you need a tree that is bigger than your body and you want it to be 15-20 yards away from the trail you’re expecting the traffic on.

Putting the tree in front of you, you need to be a little farther away from the tree than an arm’s length.

This ensures that when you draw you can move your bow to either side of the tree while still using it as cover.

After you have established a spot with good cover you should clear the area you are going to be in.

Make sure to remove branches, leaves, and anything else that is going to make noise when you move.

This ensures when you do start to move to get a line on a deer, you’re not going to spook it when you shift your weight around to draw your bow.

It’s also probably going to be more comfortable for you since you won’t have to make sure you’re perfectly still the entire time you’re out there for fear of making noise.

Additional tips

Now that you’ve got a spot and you know there will be traffic, there’s a few more things that will make your bow hunting go smoother.

Practice your draw. Once you get hunkered down, practice drawing your bow so you know what you can get away with once you go to make your shot.

Know how much you can move without hitting anything and most importantly, know that your arrow isn’t going to hit your front cover when you go to shoot your deer.

Finally, you can use ground noise to call. If you’ve seen a buck fight, you know that it is a noisy event, not just from the antler rattle but from the noises they make on the ground.

To potentially get better use out of rattling antlers, you can add some stomping and leaf rustling to make it sound more realistic.

You can also shake a tree to simulate a buck rubbing.

Deer make all kinds of noise in their natural environment, use them to your advantage.


Again, there are a plethora of reasons why you may not be able to get into a tree stand or not want to.

However, there are some hunters who swear by bow hunting from the ground for a few reasons.

Firstly, you can be highly successful from the ground with some practice and an area with good traffic.

Secondly, it can be much more exciting.

When you are in a good position and the wind is right, you can get deer to come as close as 10 yards from you.

This makes for an easier shot, and it gets your heart racing in a different way than shooting from 30 yards in a tree stand.

In short, it is definitely possible to bow hunt from the ground and it may even work better in some situations that an average tree stand.


Colby has been involved in the outdoors for over 30 years. Part of his problem is that instead of focusing on one specific outdoor hobby he spreads his time over a multitude of outdoor adventures. This has provided him the opportunity to have varied experiences across a broad spectrum of outdoor activities. Jack Outdoors has provided him an outlet to share the things he has learned as well as his successes and failures.

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