Ladder stands are expensive, and when you set them out on your property, you expect them to stay there for the season.

Unfortunately, private property doesn’t stop some thieves out there, meaning you might need a few tricks up your sleeve to keep your stand safe.

In this guide, we’ll cover some avenues available to help you keep your ladder stand in its place. 

Ideas for Locking Your Stand Against Thieves

Thankfully, there are many ways for you to lock your ladder stand properly against thieves, and some of them are valid options the second you step down from your hunting post.

These methods won’t guarantee your stand stays on your property season round, and some are only effective when combined with others.

Cable Lock for Tree Stands

A cable lock is among the most popular ways of locking your ladder stand.

With this method, you use a lock similar to those used in biking to fasten multiple areas of your ladder stand to the tree. 

You’re going to want to tie one around the base of the ladder and tree so a potential thief sees it and realizes it won’t be an easy job to get it down without bolt cutters.

Be warned, this method isn’t 100% foolproof, and many thieves might bring along bolt cutters while they are walking through your land.

However, many thefts are casual, meaning many thieves don’t like much of a challenge. 

Sleeved Side Locks for Tree Stands

Sleeved side locks work by locking the climbing ladder a few feet above the ground, where it can be near impossible to retract without a key or power tools.

Even if the locking mechanism breaks, it can stop a would-be thief by making the ladder too unstable to climb.

This prevents them from reaching the top of the ladder entirely and being unable to cut away a high-placed cable lock.

It is not uncommon for many hunters to go the extra mile and weld the locks into ladder stands for extra protection. 

Tree Stand Defender

Tree stand defenders can be a helpful method for locking your ladder stand.

Metal panels on the ladder can prohibit any unwanted guest from simply climbing into your stand but shouldn’t be your only piece of protection.

They often come with weatherproof padlocks and separate keys, but the padlocks can be easily cut off like the cable locks.

As a bonus, many companies manufacture stickers claiming the panels and ladder stand are GPS-tracked, further motivating the thieves to leave it alone.

Remove a Portion of the Ladder 

Taking away part of the climbing ladder can prohibit probable thieves from stealing your ladder stand and could deny them access to high-placed cable locks.

The only real downside to this method is running the chance of forgetting your climbing sticks/ladder at home.

The feeling of walking miles out to your stand to hunt, only to see that half of the ladder remains, can impact your hunting time just as much as if someone stole it.

On the other hand, if you can’t get up to it, neither can potential thieves.

This method is one of the more surefire ways of making sure your ladder stand goes untouched by unwanted visitors and doesn’t cost extra.

Put the Thieves on Camera

Trail cameras can be an excellent tool for keeping your ladder stand safe, but there’s an added risk of the thieves seeing the camera and snagging it up.

Your best avenue here is to find a well-camouflaged camera and place it at a considerable height in the trees to prevent potential thieves from easily seeing it.

If your stand does get stolen, a trail camera can increase the chances of law enforcement getting involved.

You might have pictures of the thieves, which can help officers find them and help you retrieve your stolen property. 

Mark Your Ladder so it’s Identifiable

While this isn’t necessarily a method for locking your ladder stand, it can be a great way to identify it on the chance it gets stolen.

You’re going to want to make a few marks all over your tree stand.

Place your name, a symbol, or even a sticker on a prominent part of your ladder stand.

Once you’ve done that, place a few more in extremely hard-to-see areas.

If a thief sees a mark, they’re going to wipe it away. If they can’t find any more, they’ll likely think it was the only one. 

If a thief steals your ladder stand and you come across one that looks similar, these markings can be a great way of determining if it’s your stolen property.

Reasons for Locking Your Stand Other Than Thieves

An unwanted visitor isn’t always a thief. Sometimes they are fellow hunters looking to take advantage of an empty stand. This can lead to problems that severely impact your chances of a successful hunt.

Unwanted visitors might pollute your stand’s area with their scent or the items they leave behind. You also run the chances of them nabbing the game you had your eye on all season.


You now have a few ideas for how to lock your ladder stand properly.

Most thieves steal because they have the opportunity to, and it won’t take too much effort to get what they want.

This is why combining multiple methods is essential - it makes a thief’s task all the more complex and increases the chances your stand will stick around.

The price of ladder stands can range in the hundreds of dollars, and having them stolen repeatedly can ruin your enthusiasm toward the next hunting season.

Thieves also aren’t the only ones to look out for when it comes to protecting your stand.

Many hunters take it upon themselves to fill an empty ladder stand, even if it’s not theirs.

Their presence in your ladder stand’s area can significantly impact your hunting success, whether it's by direct actions such as leaving behind polluted items or catching the game you had your eye on for years.

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