Tree Stands - Using Them Safely
Tree stands are a way of life for me when it comes to deer hunting. My Father being a traditionalist always preferred to hunt from the ground, however from the moment he allowed me to purchase one as a kid I knew I was hooked on hunting from tree stands. Not only do tree stands raise your scent away from deer, they also allow you to monitor a much larger area than you could see from the ground. Although tree stands offer some huge benefits they can also be very dangerous if not used correctly. Now that hunting season has begun I figured it would be a good idea to review some of the safety rules for tree stand hunting just to make sure they’re fresh in everyone’s mind.
Here’s a little known fact about tree stands. One in every three hunting injuries involve a tree stand. Falls from tree stands happen for a variety of reasons. Usually the tree stand itself isn’t to blame, but the person attaching the tree stand to the tree incorrectly is. Anytime something involves your personal safety making sure to read the directions twice.
Homemade tree stands that deteriorate after a few years are also a major cause of tree stand accidents. Sure you’d bet your life on the quality of that tree stand you built a few years ago, however after a few years in the weather even the best workmanship begins to break down. This is the time of year you want to take a couple of hours and inspect your homemade tree stands to make sure they are still sound. I recommend adding some more bracing and replace any boards that show signs of deteriorating.
Climbing tree stands continue to be all the rage. Most are extremely safe, but some are easier to use than others. Inspect the stand and ask yourself if this is the safest way to climb in this manner. Never attempt to climb an ice or snow covered tree with a climbing tree stand. Wait a little while and let the sun melt it off. Not only is using a climbing tree stand on an ice covered tree dangerous you may also find yourself in a full sweat trying to get up the tree as one foot forward often means you’ll take two back. Choose the right type of tree for using your climbing tree stand and always wear your safety belt when climbing. Check your climbing tree stand each time you use it for loose bolts or nuts.
Never carry equipment when climbing into your tree stand. Use a rope to raise and lower your gun and do not load the gun until you are safely in the tree stand and situated.
Make sure the broadheads on your hunting bow are covered before using your rope to pull the hunting bow toward you.
Tree stand hunting accidents most often occur when the hunter is climbing into or getting out of the tree stand. Make sure to wear your safety belt while climbing and descending from the stand. Once you’re in the tree make sure your safety belt or harness is safely attached. Regardless if you bow hunt or hunt with a firearm you should consider buying the best safety belt/harness you can afford. Many of the safety harnesses are quiet and comfortable.
Choose only healthy trees for attaching your climbing tree stand.
Inspect the tree you built your permanent tree stand on a few years back. Is the tree still healthy or do you have doubts. What about that tree next to it that looks like it could fall over?
When climbing or getting out of your tree stand never put all your weight in a single area. Use both hands and both feet at all times so you can catch yourself if a limb of the tree or board were to let go. Make sure your climbing tree stand is properly stepped down on before climbing onto it.
Here’s one many of us might like. Don’t wear that wedding ring climbing or any other ring for that matter. Rings can catch on tree limbs, your hunting gear or equipment.
Attach a non-skid material to the standing area of your stand. More than once I’ve climbed into my stand only to find it iced over. Consider using a small piece of tarp to keep your standing area free of snow and ice. Ladder rungs should also be cleared of snow and ice before climbing into the stand.
Did you know that many accidents involving tree stands happen when the hunter falls asleep in the stand? Leave the nightlife for another night when you know you’ll be up in a tree stand the next morning.
Many of us have multiple stands used for different weather situations. Make sure you inspect each stand prior to climbing into it.
Remove stands you know you’ll never use again. A fellow hunter may happen upon the stand and try using it in its poor condition. Don’t allow this to happen by making the stand incapable of being used. Add a whistle to be used for calling for help. Many hunters now carry walkie talkies and check in on each other a few hours including just after everyone has entered their stand. If you hunt in an area with cell service take your cell phone out with you, just make sure to turn off the ringer.
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