Until you have been deer hunting, you don’t realize just how much of your time is spent waiting. Sure, you are going to have your heavy tracking days. But we have all been stuck for hours waiting for the right shot to come our way, and the equipment can get heavy. Having to hold your bow the whole time you’re out hunting just isn’t feasible.
Having a bow holder for the tree stand you’re sitting in is worth its weight in gold. It safely secures your bow while allowing for quick access, so you can be ready at a moment’s notice when a target comes within range.
This article will break down what to look for in a good bow holder and the best ones you can pick up before your next trip out in the deer sit.
5 Best Bow Holders for Tree Stands for Your Next Hunting Trip
Now that you know why you should have a bow holder, we can look at the best options for your next hunting trip. These are five of the highest-rated and most frequently recommended holders on Amazon.com:
1. Private Land: Realtree Outfitters Multi-Purpose EZ Hanger
This combo set has three different EZ hangers of differing lengths: 13″, 23″, and 34″ (33.02, 58.42, and 86.36 cm). This is the only hanger on the list that is a screw-in bow holder, so it is not suitable for use on public land. But if you are hunting on private grounds or in an area where they aren’t banned, these are a better option than similar models.
Unlike many other screw-in models, Realtree Outfitters has made sturdy hangers that use smaller holes while keeping a tight hold to the ladder. They cause less damage and bolt through to keep the holder firmly in place. The ends are sharp for easier screwing. You can even rebolt them in the same holes next time.
These are awesome for personal use when storing your bows.
Note: Always confirm local regulations before using screw-in bow holders.
2. Universal: Summit Treestands Universal Bow Holder
While made to fit Summit treestands, don’t be fooled. This universal bow holder fits most models, including customized stands that use standard measurements, like the majority of sights. It has been designed to clamp quickly and effectively, so it is set within a matter of seconds with minimal adjustments needed.
Depending on where it is placed, you might experience a slight wobbling that can seem alarming. But the holder doesn’t slide or dip enough to dislodge the bow, and it properly nestles the limbs to keep it secure. When the holder moves, or you put the bow in or pull it out, the rubber coating keeps it quiet so you won’t scare off your target.
The way it shifts a little with the bow’s weight is unusual. But despite that, it does its job beautifully and is one of the best-reviewed bow holders online. Consider it a quirk rather than a con.
3. Cheapest: Allen Company Tree Stand Bow Holder
You don’t have to break the bank on your hunting supplies. While not quite as beloved as some of its counterparts, Allen Company’s Tree Stand Bow Holder has built a reputation for being a reliable product for half the price.
Designed in an S-style, it holds any bow with a heavier weight limit. It is constructed of steel, making it durable and strong. Its chic black coating has the dual benefit of being rust-resistant, so rain isn’t an issue.
The downside is that it won’t sit on some popular stands, such as Summit. It is made to sit around narrow beams, bolting in at either side. Any thicker stands will require you to drill into the wood, so be careful to check that it is suitable for the tree stands on whatever grounds you choose.
4. Fastest: HME Products Universally Mountable Bow Holder
Suppose you want a bow holder that will be quick and easy to install while still having the highest ratings for durability and versatility. In that case, the HME Products Universally Mountable Bow Holder is the perfect one for you. It uses a “slide-and-lock” installation method, clamping onto the tree stand and any ladder.
A four-point lock system makes this holder steady and keeps your bow straight, even if the tree stand itself is old and rickety. It is small enough to fit easily into a pocket for those hunters who travel light. Once installed, you can turn it 360° for different bow sizes and limb positions. The customization for a lock-and-leave bow hanger is impressive.
The only complaint is with the bottom bolt. Installing and uninstalling this holder requires the bottom screw to be entirely removed from the holder. That adds a few seconds of work, but it moves smoothly enough to be worth the effort.
5. Crossbows: Third Hand Treestand Bow Rest
Not all bow holders are rated for heavier crossbows. This Treestand Bow Rest by Third Hand fixes that problem. A closely curved S-style holder has a thinner, flatter clamp platform that looks a little weak. But when installed on your stand, it offers a solid holder that can hold more than the average model.
Installation is easy but takes a few minutes. Smaller, closer bolts require some dexterity to manage. It fits most tree stand brands, adjusting for thinner or thicker slats. Considering how well this holds higher weights, it is surprising that it only comes out to 8 ounces (226.79 grams). That may be more than the average bow holder, but not heavy enough to make it frustrating to bring along.
Best of all, this holder can take a crossbow that is cocked or uncocked. You can have your bow ready to go at a moment’s notice, giving you a better chance at a smooth transition into your shot. Just make sure you have the safety on before setting it in place.
Why Bow Holders for Tree Stands Should Be Mandatory
Anyone who hunts knows that bows are just as dangerous as rifles. They have to be handled carefully and correctly. Given the size and weight of crossbows in general, they are a bit unwieldy, which sets them apart from guns.
Having a bow holder makes waiting in a tree sight easier and safer. You can rest the bow in a secure spot that is easy to access. You can save your arms, which improves your aim when it is time to take the shot. You also minimize the risk of misfires or the bolts getting stuck, both potential worries when you set your bow flat on a platform.
Last but not least, there is no need to swing it into place before your shot when you sling it over the back. No more balancing issues!
What Do I Look for in Bow Holders for Tree Stands?
Finding the right bow holder for treestands is critical. The last thing you need is a malfunction while out on a trip. You want to find a steady, strong holder that is easy to assemble and disassemble and that won’t cause damage to the tree or sight.
Let’s break down each element and examine it more closely:
The perfect bow holder will be steady. This applies to the material itself, taking the bow’s weight without sinking and making sure it stays straight without dipping forward. It should stay firmly in place, keeping the bow in the same position while allowing you to put it in and take it out with no wobbling.
Well-made bow holders will be constructed of solid metal that isn’t too heavy. The heavier the metal, the better the chances of it slipping from its place. A good design is also important, with fewer joints and a sleek form that keeps the holder as simple as possible.
Hunters are careful by nature. The tracking and hunting of an animal require patience, deliberation, and caution to be successful. But we can’t be 100% perfect every time, and pulling a bow while in a tree stand is one of the worst times to slip up and yank too hard, causing a holder to break or dislodge.
The stronger your bow holder, the less chance of a slip-up and your bow dropping to the ground. That is one faux pas that your buddies will never let you live down. Like the sturdiness, it comes down to the material and design. The maximum weight capacity is essential when purchasing a bow holder. You don’t want to ride too close to the line and should give yourself at least a few ounces of leeway.
As for the weight of the bow holder itself, you are looking at an average of 4.5 – 6.5 ounces (127.57-184.27 grams).
Easy To Assemble and Disassemble
No one wants to spend an hour fiddling with a bow holder. They need to be quick and straightforward, with as few components as possible. Most are made with a single primary piece that straps to the ladder or stand platform, using two to four bolts to tighten its clamp. Some will have a joint for adjusting to your bow’s limbs. Most are in either an S-style or fork clamp.
Occasionally, you will find bow holders with extra bells and whistles, but it’s rare. The main complaint from hunters is that they are too hard to adjust or clamp, with stiff joints that might even require a wrench or pliers to turn.
Keep an eye on reviews and how long the customers say it took to set up. If it takes more than a few minutes, go on to the next one. You should never have to bring a toolbox on a hunt.
No Damage Caused To Tree or Sight
We all know the cardinal rule: leave a hunt site the way you found it. You should never cause damage to a tree or a tree stand, as that will cause problems for the next hunters who use it. It is also illegal and can lead to hefty fines or even jail time for the offender.
Screw-in bow holders are the most common way hunters damage a tree stand or tree. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether. If you have your own private hunting land or self-made stand, you are welcome to install one. It may even be preferable to adding or removing one every time you hunt.
Here are five things you should know before buying a screw-in bow holder.
- Illegal on most public land. Most states in the US have laws against using screw-in bow holders on public land since they cause holes in the stand or tree itself.
- Harder to install. Have you ever tried to hand-screw a bolt into a piece of wood? It can be tough, and installing a bow holder into a ladder plank is no different.
- Requires damage to tree, ladder, or stand frame. The holes drilled into the wood are going to cause permanent damage. Imagine what would happen if multiple people used these.
- Not as stable. Because of the varying strength in aging wood, the stability of your holder will vary. It may even require that you re-screw it a few times to find the right spot.
- Requires further reach for access. You might not be able to set the holder where you need it if the wood isn’t strong enough. That could mean reaching further to get your bow.
Want to make your own bow holder for tree stands? The best way to make sure you get a bow holder perfect for your needs is to make your own. It isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. Plenty of hunters choose to craft their holders, including universal holders that work with crossbows and traditional bows. You can even make triple holders that include a rifle slot!
Check out this DIY tutorial that is easy to follow and uses common materials:
Having a good, easy-to-use bow holder for tree stands is the perfect way to improve your hunting experience. There will be less weight to hold, and it frees up your hands and gives you an additional layer of safety so you can focus on landing the perfect buck.
For more, check out How to Bowhunt From a Tree Stand | All You Need to Know.
Christian grew up in the Ozarks where he spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ homestead learning about guns, hunting, and the great outdoors.
An avid traditional bowhunter, much of his writing covers this and other similar topics, but he also covers just about everything from history and economics to motorcycles.
See more of his work at ChristianMonson.com.