I know a couple guys who put stands out on some public land the Thursday before season, only to come to a yellow tag on the tree saying the stands and ladders have been impounded. This had to have been done on friday, the day before season! It was on federal land. I know you aren't supposed to leave stands in, but why come screw up two dudes season? Both stands were hang ons, with hang on ladders too. Just seemed like an unnecessary d**k move the day before season. I was thinking maybe someone called to report them? Maybe another disgruntled Hunter who wanted to lessen the hunting pressure on this chunk of land? Anyone else have any experience with this?
2008 I was at the start of my bow hunting vacation when I had an arrow shatter on release. Shard shot right into my hand. After an ER visit and some pain pills I spent the week scouting for rifle since I couldn't use my left hand.
Ran into a guy setting up an illegal stand later that week on a prime pinch point. He wasn't much for conversation and claimed this area was his for rifle. Maybe it was a lack in judgement from the pain pills or the fact they had made me constipated that past four days. Anyways, on the way out I had finally had a bowel movement. I pinched off the most epic deuce on his seat two days prior to opener. One of the more enjoyable throne experiences of my life, fantastic view. I don't think I broke any laws.
I just wanted to share that story. Corn chili the night before he probably ended up shooting a big one anyways.
Everyone is talking about opinions. The answer is, if in your area, it's illegal to leave stands out, it's illegal. If yours got stolen I don't feel bad for anyone. I don't agree with breaking one of the 10 commandments, but you were also stealing in a sense. Stealing others right to be there also.
Even if its the world's hardest to get place, if its illegal then you really should not be defending your actions.
If the law says a treestand can be left, your complaints to other hunters accomplish nothing. Well maybe some mutual hatred, but even then you are in the wrong. You just end up looking stupid and wrong. Imagine the confrontation and a warden showing up. You tell the warden, "I don't like that they can do this." That will go over well for you LOL.
I don't like everything I run into on public lands but it is what it is. Good hunters overcome it anyways, all part of it.