by Ed Wright
Hunting from elevated positions has gained great popularity over the years, greater than 80 percent of hunters now hunt from tree stands. Elevated platforms create a better range of view and assist in the attempt to outsmart the mighty whitetail deer’s best senses, their nose and vision. While these advantages come with great reward they also produce a great risk. Falls from tree stands is one of the leading causes of injury and fatality during the hunting season. So how do we assure to return home to our families safe and sound? By taking the proper precautions!
The following are the top 10 ways to prevent tree stand and elevated platform accidents.
10. Inspection: Safety First! Prior to every hunt inspect all parts of your tree stand and safety harness. Check for wear and tear and any possible damage or missing parts. If something isn’t right, don’t use it!
9. Location: Tell Someone Where You Are! Always let someone know your exact location, and always carry a communication device. There are also cell phone apps that can be a used to tag tree stand locations if you are hunting alone.
8. Safety Harnesses and Tether Straps: USE THEM! You should NEVER hunt from a tree stand without a proper safety harness. Most manufactures provide a full body harness with new tree stands. Tether straps provide an additional layer of safety when ascending and descending the tree. The leading cause of tree stand injuries occur while climbing up or down.
7. Tree Selection: Be Picky! Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on tree diameter. The tree should be alive, healthy and free of rot or damage.
6. Fixed Position and Ladder Stands: Bring a Friend! When installing fixed position and ladder stand always do so with a partner, many falls happen prior to the hunt during set up.
5. Climbing: Follow the Rules! For ladders and tree steps always follow the three points rule. Which are, always have two hands and a foot or both feet and a hand in contact with a rungs or steps at all time. For climbing stands move slowly, steadily and securely moving no more than 12 inches at a time while using a safety tether.
4. Weather Conditions: Be Aware! Be aware of the weather conditions, Wind, rain, snow? How this will affect your equipment and the tree your climbing.
3. Haul lines: Never Climb With Your Gear! Use haul lines to pull your bow/ gun and gear after your have completed your climb and properly secured yourself. Never climb while carrying gear in your hand or on your back. Make sure your firearm is unloaded and the bolt or arrow is not nocked prior to hauling them up.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice with your tree stand prior to the season, practice attaching it to a tree and ascending and descending prior to use. Opening day in the dark isn’t the time to work out the kinks and will increase your risk of an incident.
1. Unknown Stands: Stay Out! Most of us have seen the old wooden stand in a great spot that looks like it hasn’t been touched in years. Never climb into an unknown stand, the hidden damage could cause serious injury or death.
Good luck hunters. Be safe, hunt safe!