set the ladder on the ground assembled then set the bottom legs about where they would end up normally and walk the ladder up from the front towards the tree. You would be at the top of the ladder when starting and simply push the ladder up towards the tree as you step into it. I don't use 20' ladders but a 16' can be set up by one person very easy. You can set the legs in the ground once you have it upright, and won't bent them, as this helps to keep the ladder base set and not move on you.
First off, are you talking a two person ladder stand or one? If it's a one person, that should be no problem at all. I typically do what HM said above.. that's the easiest, but you have to be careful and have your hands up pretty high when the ladder becomes vertical. Another way I have done it before (and it's time consuming) is to "walk it up". This takes a little more muscle, but for the shorter people out there it's probably easier. Instead of putting the legs on the ground where they will be when the stand is in place, put the "V" of the top of the stand on the tree as high as you can reach. The legs of the stand will be about 15'-20' away from the base of the tree (depending on how tall your ladder stand is). Then strattle (sp?) the ladder and lift with your legs and move the sitting area ("V") of the stand slowly up the tree about a foot at a time. Once the stand begins to get more and more vertical you can begin to set the legs into place where you want them.
Hope this helps!-- and oh yeah... don't do it HM's way on a windy day!!! The way I just described works best for shorter people or windy days.
My ladder stand requires 3 to set up. I have reduced that requirement by 1 and can successfully accomplish a setup with only 2 persons. the stand weighs over 100 lbs and walking it up the tree starting at the seat section will not work without securing the base of the ladder as once you walk up to the mid section of the stand you become the fulcrum and the stand wants to fall back behind you. I have eliminated the need of have 1 person pinning the base of the ladder by utilizing 2 screw in dog leash stakes. I simply screw these in at the base of the tree and secure the bottom rungs of the ladder to them. as you walk the stand up the screw in stakes prevent the ladder from teetering up and once you have the stand at about 10 - 11 o'clock it will drop back down. it still requires 2 people though.
I have theorized a way to do it with 1 person, but it will only work if you have complete access to your hunt area with any and all privileges.
Well folks, I bought an API 2 person ladder stand this summer and just got it set up about 2 weeks ago. I did it all by myself and with the use of my truck. It took every ounce of energy I had. I'll never do a 2 person stand again by myself. The one person stands that are just the sit-on type are easy and light weight enough to do by yourself. This stand weighs about 4x that much. But, all in all, I got it up and ready to go.
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