Big Game ‘Partner’ Portable High Seat
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
High seats have traditionally been associated with deer stalking, but as I’ve been finding out, they can also come in very useful for tackling vermin and foxes on parts of your shoot that are otherwise impossible to stalk successfully or shoot safely.
Whether made of timber or welded steel, the traditional high seat is often cumbersome, so most are made locally, or even on-site. Recently, however, several easily-shippable flat-pack designs have appeared on the UK market, and the combination of (predominantly) Chinese manufacture and mail-order pricing now puts a selection of high seats within the reach of the general shooter.
I’ve duly been trying out the two-seater Big Game ‘Partner’ from the Sportsman Gun Centre. This type of seat is what the Americans call a “ladder stand”, usually known here as “lean-to seat”: that is, they are designed to be supported by being leant against, and strapped to, a substantial tree. The advantage of such a design over free-standing seats is that they are lighter, and thus more portable, although of course their siting depends upon the presence of a suitable tree.
Assembly and Fixing
The Big Game Partner exceeded my expectations, combining quality components with user-friendly design, and a degree of attention to the crucial aspect of safety. It came complete with two full-body safety harnesses, clear and detailed instructions that highlight safety points at every stage, and even a well-presented DVD that demonstrates the potential dangers of different types of stand and shows how to guard against them. I know as shooters we often complain about the legislation-sensitive, risk-averse culture that gives US-made rifles unnecessarily heavy triggers and stamps asinine warnings on their barrels, but when it comes to tree stands I’ll take the US approach over the European one any day of the week.
I enlisted a friend to help assemble and erect the Partner. Assembly would have been relatively easy on the ground (the only tools required being a couple of spanners, and - for speed - a socket set), but concerned that we wouldn’t be able to lift the completed stand against the tree without a third person present, we opted to secure the ladder first and fit the platform and seat afterwards. Let me make it clear now that this was not a good idea and made what would have been a quick and simple job at ground level into a test of nerve and endurance when working off a ladder! In the end, however, we got the stand together and fitted the comfortable 3” cushion to the bench seat, and the Velcro-fastening camo pads to the shooting rail. So learn from our mistake, and assemble the whole thing on the ground, then ‘walk’ it up into place.
The Partner doesn’t have a support strut, as the ladder is kept from flexing by a handrail on both sides. This also means that when climbing up and down you don’t find yourself holding on to muddy rungs, which obviously makes for a surer grip. Above the top rung of the ladder is a large foot platform covered with steel mesh to provide a non-slip surface. The only shortcoming - literally - lay in the length of the ratchet straps, which, at just 6’, were unsuited to the mature trees to which we wanted to secure the stand, so to make life easier I substituted them with some much longer heavy duty cargo straps with large rubberised handles bought from a car-care centre. As the strap tightened, the seat felt increasingly solid.
Even at a substantial height of 5.8m, the Partner felt secure, as it has a large foot platform, a solid bench seat, and a rail that runs right around the platform at just below shoulder height. There’s also enough space on the platform to stow a day sack under each seat. What’s more, the shooting support is in just the right position to take comfortable, steady shots at angles appropriate to the height of the stand.
At the time of writing, the Partner is being offered at £251.99, which includes two safety harnesses and represents excellent value for this exceptionally practical, sturdy and comfortable high seat. Delivery cost depends on destination so phone Sportsman Gun Centre for details on tel. 01392 354854 or visit the website at www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk
P.O.A. – depending on location
2 x ratchet straps, 2 stabiliser straps, 2 full-body safety harnesses, Lineman-style belt tree strap