High seats

High Seats & Platforms for Deer Management


    High seats are basically elevated platforms from which areas most commonly used by deer can be clearly observed, the deer feeding there can be studied and selectively controlled, while creating a minimum amount of disturbance to the surrounding environment. For many decades high seats have been widely used in Britain and on the Continent and have proved indispensable for effectively managing wild deer in forest areas. They are especially useful in situations where at ground level young trees obliterate the view, or on flat land, or where public usage is high and margins of safety are low. High seats increase the observer's visibility over the trees and provide a comfortable and stable shooting position and allowing a safer shooting angle towards the ground.5

    Design & Construction - There are many different designs and styles of high seat currently in use, from the very basic to the highly elaborate. They all generally fall into the categories of being permanent, semi-permanent or portable, lean to (generally support by a tree) or free standing, designed for one or more persons and are manufactured from a number of different materials. The type of high seat to be used depends greatly on the particular site where it to be erected and the stalkers knowledge of the deer movements in that area. In mountainous and undulating land where the hillside give sufficient height, strategically sighted 'Hides or Blinds' at ground level can be constructed of local materials to serve the same purpose, as a high seat. It is therefore to firstly establish if a high seat is necessary at all for that particular site. If the stalker is new to the particular forest area it is advisable to use a portable or a semi-portable high seat, until the effectiveness of the position selected can be determined. It may be necessary to move the seat a number of times before ultimately satisfied with its final resting-place. The control area itself may influence the stalkers choice of seat, large permanent structures are costly and time consuming to build and require good access to deliver the bulky components. As they have (if properly maintained) a relatively long useful life they should only be seriously considered for areas where there visibility will not be obscured in a few years as the forest crop develops.


    Safety

    Safety -


      All high seats must be constructed and maintained to the highest standards in order that they are safe to use. Any structures that have reached the end of their useful life must be removed. All high seats made of wood most have strong (10-gauge) wire stapled along their rungs and to the uprights, in case any of them break. Ideally each rung should be notched into the uprights. Lean-to high seats must be firmly fixed to a sturdy support. Nails should not be used to attach them to trees; they should be tied with a stout polypropylene (or similar) rope or fixed in position with a lock and chain. Freestanding seats must be stable and capable of withstanding all weather conditions; guy wires anchored to the ground can provide additional support. In the interest of public safety, clearly position, a weatherproof notice on each structure (at eye level) stating 'Not for Public Use'.


      Height -

      Height -


        The height required of the high seat is generally dependant on the surrounding vegetation in order that a clear and relatively unobstructed view is possible of the control area and that the angle of a downward shot is great enough to minimise the risk of a ricochet. In general there are usually no higher than 10-14 feet from ground level. Platforms of greater height require a significantly more substantial construction to be safe and to withstand local weather conditions. In mountainous and undulating ground where the proposed shooting position is higher than the control area, the height of the seat is of less importance.

        Access -

        The height required of the high seat is generally dependant on the surrounding vegetation in order that a clear and relatively unobstructed view is possible of the control area and that the angle of a downward shot is great enough to minimise the risk of a ricochet. In general there are usually no higher than 10-14 feet from ground level. Platforms of greater height require a significantly more substantial construction to be safe and to withstand local weather conditions. In mountainous and undulating ground where the proposed shooting position is higher than the control area, the height of the seat is of less importance.


        safety wodden tower

        Accommodation & Comfort -


          As most woodland stalking is undertaken alone or with a guest, nearly all high seats are designed to accommodate 1 or 2 persons with only very large structures (generally free standing) being capable of accommodating any more people. The design of the seat should provide a fair degree of space and comfort, as it may be necessary to occupy if for several hours at a time. Consideration must be given to the size difference of stalkers intending to use it, this may greatly influence the seat and foot rail positions and the height of the shooting rail or in the case of an enclosed box type structure, the height and position of the shooting window.


            Noise -As deer have a very acute sense of hearing the design of the seat should not exaggerate any noise being created by the occupiers movements either climbing up the ladder or obtaining better shooting position in the seat itself. Solid wooden structure tend to be the quietest in operation whereas the very lightweight aluminum seats can often emit 'creaks' with the slightest movement of the occupier.


              Materials Used -The materials used generally reflect the life expectancy of the seat (durability); the style of seat required (portability) and the budget available.


              Timber Permanent seats

              Timber:


                Permanent seats are most commonly constructed from wooden poles. As they involve a relatively high degree of effort in their construction (thus their cost can be quiet higher) the timber used should be selected carefully. Freshly cut, unseasoned straight poles from the forestry will deteriorate over just a few years making them unsafe, whereas using pealed (de-barked) and seasoned larch poles or better still preservative treated timber will provide many years of service if carefully maintained and occasionally treated with preservatives. To avoid injury, all timbers used should be relatively clean and free from splinters and the remains of branches, and all protruding wire and nails should be bent over and flush.

                Metal: Smaller portable seats are usually manufactured from lightweight mild steel or aluminum. Steel tends to be heavier than aluminum but are cheaper and more easily constructed by any small engineering yard or 'budding DIY enthusiast'. Although highly portable, aluminum seats are generally very expensive and unless well constructed tend to 'creak' with any movement of the occupier. They are also less resistant to the attentions of vandals and are prone to 'developing legs of their own' so it is advisable to secure them with a sturdy lock and chain. Apart from the weight difference steel has a further disadvantage in that unless galvanised or painted it will rust. It is important therefore that they be regularly inspected for signs of deterioration especially inside the tubes, which are allowed to fill with water.

                Positioning of High Seats & Platforms -

                Safety: The shooting position provided by the location of the seat should a good solid backdrop (not in the direction of pathways, roads or areas commonly used by the public). To reduce the risk of ricochet the downward shooting angle should not be less than 8 degrees to the ground and areas of expressed rock should be avoided.

                Wind Direction: Deer have a highly sensitive sense of smell and although the elevated position of the seat should assist in carrying much of the occupants scent above the control area it is important to position the seat on the downwind side of the seat. Consideration must be given to the effects, which 'swirling', or 'funneling' in glades or ridelines can have on wind direction and scent.

                Access: The direction of access to the seat position is greatly influenced by the prevailing wind direction, especially in relation to the deer's 'lying-up' areas. To ensure a quiet and undetected approach to the high set position, access paths should be brashed through surrounding stands of trees and the ground cleared of any of these brashings. Strimming and spraying may also be necessary to reduce the build up of vegetation, this is especially important for pathways through relevantly open, pre-thicket stage compartments.

                View: A clear, un-obstructed view of the control area is essential, the seat should be positioned in order that as much of the control as possible can be seen.

                Direction of the Sun: Consideration must be given to the frequency in which the high seat is to be used in the morning/ evening and the positions of the sun at these times must be taken into account to reduce glare effecting the stalker.

                Background Vegetation: A good backdrop of trees will prevent the high seat and its occupant from being silhouetted against the skyline, this will aid concealed access and also enable small movement which may be necessary for a better shooting position to go unnoticed. If the seat has to be positioned clear of the edge of the trees to improve visibility, or in the case of free standing seats which are erected in the open, timber, canvas, netting, branches or other suitable materials may be used as screens to camouflage the stalkers profile and movements.

                Public Awareness: One of the most important considerations in regard to the construction and positioning of all high seats is public safety. All structures of this type will attract a degree of public attention, in other to reduce disturbance by the general public, all high seats should be positioned discreetly so that they are not obvious from roads, footpaths etc.

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