Although I had used the Elusive Whitetail and Ground Lounge stands that were made by Tree Lounge, I had never owned a standard Tree Lounge until this year when I purchased two used stands. By this time the Tree Lounge company had been out of business for over two years, and their videos and printed materials about the stands were no longer available. However, I had several of their videos which showed Margaret and Bob Hice hunting from the stands as well as one where Bob described the advantages of the Tree Lounge hunting system.
I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase one of the stands with an older model wheel kit, bow-hunting platform, leveling wedge, gun rest, chill pad and cushion. The second stand only had the platform, wedge and an extra sling seat. Between these two stands, I could do just about everything that I thought that I might want to do with them. As I planned to take them on a hunt where I would wheel them into the hunting locations, I took advantage of Georgia’s August 15 squirrel season to put one on a tree. I wanted to have some time in the stand before I started hauling it off to some distant hunting spot and installing it in the dark. Using the stand would also give me the opportunity to try out a new .32-caliber Crockett rifle that I had built. A video of me unpacking and assembling the stand is at: http://youtu.be/LMRy8NvX0FU. I also have four videos of me building the Crockett rifle starting with: http://youtu.be/jFxm43Xf1s8 and another of me squirrel hunting from the Tree Lounge with the Crockett rifle at: http://youtu.be/Ja5vnpXv8Wc.
Before taking them out, I unpacked the stands and cleaned them up. It did not take long to figure out how to deploy the bowhunting platform which is fixed to the main part of the stand with two 1/4-inch bolts on the stand and another pair that are attached to the foot extension. On some of the older stands you must drill holes for these, but mine were pre-drilled. The parts of the stand that are likely to deteriorate are the plywood bowhunting platform and the nylon sling seat. Before I put the stands up, I put a couple of coats of epoxy paint over the old paint that previous owners had put on the wood. This would give them some added protection. I also went to the hardware store and got some spare 1/4-inch bolts and wing nuts. There are two extra holes drilled in the platform for these, and spairs are nice to have along in case you happen to lose a bolt on the trip in.
My stands also had the safety straps and buckles which I checked out and lubricated. Inspecting the wheel kit I found that it is attached by long bolts going through a rectangular aluminum blocks that are held on by wing nuts. The stand wheels-in easier if the blocks are installed on the same side of the stand as is the bottom crossbar. That way the bottom of the stand is slicker with fewer things to catch on rocks, roots etc. The plastic spokes on the old wheels are not as light or durable as regular lawnmower or bicycle wheels which also provide greater ground clearance. An alternative method of attachment would be to use short sections of square 2 1/2-inch channel iron and drill holes for short axel pins and two bolts to fasten it to the frame or cut 2 1/2-inch angle iron and use a full-length axel, as in the original design. This could be very easily fabricated by anyone with a drill press and cutting torch.
Details of wheel kit. It actually works best if the cross bar and the axel blocks are both on top of the frame.
This is an older model kit with plastic wheels.
Bungee cords are the simplest way to attach the lower and upper parts of the stand together as well as to fasen anything else to the stand that you might want to wheel in. On one of the stands the owner had taped some water-pipe insulation to the bottom of the foot piece which makes pulling the stand a little more comfortable on the hands.
It is also appropriate to have a small tool bag containing extra bolts, nuts, knobs and a small set of vise grips. The vise grips help tighten and loosen the wing nuts in cold weather and the bag will hold your bungee cords, wedge, spare knobs and anything else that might be needed to service your stand should some part be lost on the trip in.
Once you arrive at your site and select your tree, remove the foot piece and install that first. The crossbar should go on top of the foot piece and you need to run the retaining straps around the middle of the foot piece’s side bars so that the straps hang on both sides of the trunk. If you do not, or only attach it to the front you will not be able to retrieve the foot piece should it come lose and raddle down the trunk. When this happens, and a touch is all that is needed to dislodge it once you remove your feet, it could leave you 30-feet up a tree with no way to get down, outside of shimmying down the trunk. So make sure that you attach those straps correctly. A video, “Installing and Climbing with a Tree Lounge Tree Stand” is at: http://youtu.be/-DD79B4zuRI.
This is also the time to attach your gun-hoisting cord to the foot piece. Put this on the left rear corner of the stand. Although the stand is equipped with a gun or bow rack, do not climb or descent your gun or bow in the rack. This adds weight at the end of your stand and makes it more difficult to go up and down the tree as well as having the potential of your hunting instrument going crashing to the ground or catching on a nearly limb. Should you forget your hoist rope, you could bungee it into the holders, sling it across your back or hold it in your hands across the top of the stand when you climb.
It is much easier to install the heavy upper Tree Lounge seat if you have two people. One can support the rear of the stand and push it against the tree while the other attaches the crossbar by indexing the long bolts through the holes in the stand. If you are by yourself, slide the upper parts of the stand together, lift and press the stand against the tree with the right hand while indexing and sliding the crosspiece bolts through the holes with the right. If the bolts just don’t want to go, this means that one of them is very likely bent. Check them, straighten out the bolt/s and try again. If you still cannot hold it against the tree long enough, prop the rear of the stand up with either the wheel kit turned on its side or with a cut branch. This saves you from having to support the full weight of the upper part of the stand while trying to push the bolts through the holes in the stand on the other side of the tree. If you are have the bowhunting platform, installing that will also provide a means of supporting the rear of the stand while you put it on the tree.
If you are going to use a Chill Pad, go ahead and attach it now. Check and see that you have everything picked up off the ground, in bags and tied to the hoist rope. Put one foot on the outside of the foot piece and swing the other leg over the stand, past the sling seat and onto the bottom of the foot piece on the other side of the stand. You will have to push the sling seat to one side with the foot to do this. Once the other leg is in position move the other foot inside the stand and place the toes of both boots through the bottom bar. Stand and attach your safely belt. Grasp the upper part of the stand with both hands at the juncture between the two sliding parts and lift up the tree. Allow the stand to rest against the tree and be firmly anchored. Sit in the sling seat and pull the foot piece up with the toes. Once you have it as far up as you can comfortably lift, put the back of the foot piece against the tree and stand up. Again lift the upper part of the stand, anchor it against the tree and sit down. Lift the foot piece with the feet and repeat the process until you are at the desired height.
On the way up the tree be sure and trim any small branches on the trunk. Even a tiny one can block the foot piece when you are attempting to go back down.
When at the desired height, pull one knee up place it on the sling seat and turn around in the stand. Allow yourself to sit in the sling seat, which will seem a bit strange the first time you do it. Hoist up your gun and accessory bag. This is the time to install the tree wedge between the back of the stand and the tree if you need it to level the bow platform. Ready your gun and put it into the gun rack, arrange everything else in the stand, get comfortable and wait for your game to arrive.
Before you start down the tree, take as much weight off the stand as possible by lowering it to the ground with your hoist rope. It is easier to climb with extra weight on your stand than to descend. Turn around in your stand and once again face the tree. Run your toes through the bottom of the foot piece and stand. Pull the stand up with the hands which will free it from the tree. Allow the stand to sink about six inches on the tree. Sit and lower the foot piece with the legs about another six inches, stand and lower the top section. Repeat this process until you are near enough to the ground to step out of the stand. Unbuckle your safety belt and put it well out of the way on the front of the stand. Take care to keep your feet from catching on the seat or straps as you dismount.
Practice using your stand before taking it on your first serious hunt. Pre-hunt practice will have you hunting safer and will have you ready to shoot sooner once you are on location.