HUNTERS USING TREE STANDS NEED TO TAKE EXTRA SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Richmond, VA – Tree stands have become increasingly popular for hunting. Both bow hunters and hunters using firearms find benefits from using an elevated position. Hunters who use tree stands, however, must take extra precautions to protect themselves from injury. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) recommends that hunters adhere to the following guidelines for their safety while using tree stands.
1) When purchasing a tree stand, consider the manufacturer’s recommended load limit and do not exceed it. Consider the safety features and ease of use before purchasing a tree stand.
2) Before using a tree stand, inspect the equipment carefully making sure all the parts are in working order and are in good condition, including the safety harness. Read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly prior to using the stand.
3) Inspect permanent stands carefully making sure the structure is sound with no rotting boards or loose nails.
4) Practice using portable tree stands before going out to hunt. Start just a few feet off the ground getting comfortable maneuvering it and sitting in it, then work up to higher heights.
5) If using a self-climbing tree stand, make sure your feet are securely fitted in the lower unit or it may fall. Connect the upper and lower units with a short strap, so that if the lower unit falls it can be retrieved easily and safely.
6) Wear a safety harness from the minute you leave the ground until you return to the ground. Parachute-style harnesses are highly recommended as they provide safer fall protection and if a fall occurs this type of harness will provide more mobility for getting back into your stand.
7) Attach the safety harness to the tree with minimum slack. Should you fall, you will not fall far and will be able to return to your tree stand more easily.
8) Remember never climb with your firearm or bow or other equipment. Always use a haul line to get your gun or archery equipment into and out of the tree stand. Firearms should be unloaded and actions open. Arrows should be in the quiver with the points securely covered.
9) If at any time you find yourself getting sleepy, get to the ground.
10) Be mindful of the increased exposure to wind and rain while in a tree stand. Hypothermia is a serious concern. Dress in layers in such a way that you do not have to remove your safety harness to remove or add a layer of clothing.
11) Let others in your hunting party or at home know where you will be placing your tree stand and when you expect to return.
If these guidelines were strictly followed, likely there would be no tree stand related incidents.
These recommendations are drawn from the VDGIF’s Hunter Safety Education program. Each year, approximately 16,000 people attend these free classroom courses. The course is mandatory for persons who wish to hunt who are age 12 to 15 and for persons age 16 years and older who have never been issued a hunting license. In most cases, parents accompany their sons and daughters to spend time together preparing to participate in this traditional activity. To find a Hunter Education course in your area, check out the Department’s Web site at www.dgif.state.va.us or call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 1-804-367-1000. The Hunter Safety Education program emphasizes hunting ethics, safety and individual responsibility. Students learn that hunting is about being part of the outdoors experience, observing wildlife in the wild, and connecting with the natural world. A successful hunt is most often measured by the outdoor experience.
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