While hunting is a pretty safe activity, one aspect continues to rack up the statistics: falls from tree stands. Would you send your son into a football game without a helmet? Likewise, would you let him hunt from a tree stand without a hunting safety harness? With bow hunting season starting throughout the nation, it's a good time to review some hunter safety considerations for tree stand hunters.
Tree Stand Safety
Tree stands should be checked for safety prior to the start of the season. Read the warnings and instructions and check every nut and screw to ensure the tree stand is in working order. Test it by climbing a tree (if it's a climbing tree stand) or slowly climbing the ladder tree stand or steps and gently putting weight on the platform (always wear a hunting safety harness when doing this).
Never use homemade or permanently elevated tree stands or make modifications to a manufacturer's tree stand.
If you placed your hang-on treestand or ladder treestand during summer, check it for wasps or other critters that might cause problems when you climb on to it in the darkness.
Install a permanent haul line into the tree stand so you can pull your gear up once you get settled in the stand.
Always select the proper tree for your tree stand. Live, straight trees that fit within the size limits of your stand are best.
Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back.
Hunting Safety Harnesses
Always wear a hunting safety harness, such as a Summit Seat-O-The-Pants Fastback, Safety, or Supreme Harness. Wear it while climbing into and out of the tree stand, as many falls occur when making the move from steps to platform.
Read the warnings and instructions that come with your hunting safety harness. Also, practice putting it on prior to the season.
Single straps or chest harnesses are not adequate hunting safety harnesses.
Be aware of the hazards of prolonged suspension in a harness. Have a plan for rescue, including a cell phone and a back-up plan for escape. Exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any form of continuous motion if suspended by a hunting safety harness for a long period of time.
Never remove your hunting safety harness while on a tree stand.
General Hunting Safety Precautions
Hunt with a plan and a buddy if possible. At the very least, let someone know where you'll be hunting.
Know your limitations, and if you don't like to hunt 25 feet up, only go as far as you feel comfortable.
Slow down. More accidents occur when the hunter is excited or hurrying to climb into or out of the stand. Beware of frost and ice on your steps and slick mud on your boots.
Never hunt from a tree stand after taking medication that can cause drowsiness.
Always make sure firearms are unloaded prior to pulling them into the tree stand.