Hunter safety starts with the tree stand

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tree stand

There is no such thing as a safety guarantee when it comes to hunting from a tree stand, whether it’s a climber, ladder stand, reached by strap-on or screw-in steps, or a ladder.

You name it and there are statistics that tell an ugly story.

I recently visited with an acquaintance, a very experienced tree stand hunter about a nasty fall he suffered while strapping on sections of climbing steps.

Several stitches, a couple hours of facial surgery, and a slow recovery from lingering muscle and joint pain resulted, but he’s now back in the game. He was lucky. Not every hunter who falls is.

Tree standstree stand

I checked in with a couple popular tree stand makers and found the following offered by the Summit Tree Stand Company.

Unfortunately, statistics have shown that tree stand accidents are currently the number one cause of hunter-related injury every season.

In fact, it’s estimated that one out of every three deer hunters who hunt from elevated stands are likely to experience a fall at some point in their lives that will result in serious injury.

In order to avoid these senseless and often tragic accidents, follow these important safety tips when hanging, climbing, hunting or descending from a tree stand this fall.

Tree selection

Be sure to select the proper tree before hanging a fixed-position stand or using a climbing stand. The tree should be alive and healthy without any noticeable rot or damage.

Your tree should also meet the size specifications and restrictions set by the tree stand company.

Safety harness

Never hunt from a tree stand without a secure and high-quality safety system, harness, or vest. It only takes one fall to suffer a serious injury or permanently end your hunting career.

A strong and sturdy safety rope (or strap) should be attached to both your harness and the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12-inches.

Inspect tree stands

Continuously monitor and inspect your safety harness and tree stands before and during the season to check for wear and tear or possible damage.

When hunting from a fixed position or hang-on stand always inspect the ladder steps and tree stand attachments to make sure everything is tightly secured to the tree.

Haul line

Always use a haul line to pull-up your gear, bow or unloaded firearm. Never climb with anything in your hands or attached to your back.

Before climbing down, utilize the haul line to safely lower all of your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.

Communicate

Be sure to let family and friends know the exact tree stand location that you’re currently hunting.

When at all possible, hunt with a buddy and always carry a communication device like a cell-phone or walkie-talkie that can easily be reached on your body at any time.

Climbing

Follow the three-point rule, which says always have 3-points of contact to your steps or ladder when climbing or descending from your stand.

Be aware of slippery and hazardous climbing conditions that may result from rain, sleet, snow or ice and take the appropriate precautions.

When using a climbing stand, make slow, steady and even movements of no more than 12 inches at a time.

You should also make sure the climbing section and platform of your stand are attached together by some type of safety cord or rope.

Other tips

  • Never assemble and hang or erect a stand without a helper.
  • Be sure to connect your safety harness or strap before anything else.
  • Be sure to let someone know where you’ll be and leave a visible note on your dashboard about your location.
  • Check and recheck the condition of straps, connecting hardware, and frame before setting an older stand.
  • Don’t assume someone else’s stand is safe.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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