EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Many deer hunters only give tree stand safety a passing thought, thinking an accident won’t happen to them. But every year, hunters end up badly hurt or worse in falls from tree stands that could have been prevented.
“The idea of safety first really hits home after an accident,” said Tom Hughes, NWTFhunter safety liaison. “I never hunt without making sure all safety measures are in place.”
In many hunting situations, tree stands allow hunters to see game better and help reduce the amount of human scent on the ground. While positioning in a tree often gives hunters a better view, serious injury and even death can occur when all safety precautions aren’t taken.
Many hunters feel they are experienced enough that an accident won’t happen to them, but according to the Treestand Manufacturers Association, 75 percent of all reported treestand incidents happen to hunters between the ages of 30 and 60 years old, and in 82 percent of these incidents, the hunter was not wearing any kind of fall-arrest system.
To help hunters stay safe, the NWTF has compiled a list of useful tips for hunting out of tree stands.”Safety is something you should never take for granted; it’s something you put first in everything you do, whether it’s driving a car or climbing a deer stand,” said James Earl Kennamer Ph.D., NWTF’s chief conservation officer. “A hunter must be a good defensive hunter, just like being a defensive driver. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way by making careless decisions.”
- Understand the stand: Manufacturers’ warnings and instructionsshould be read before using the stand. Practice climbing before the season, and use all provided safety devices. If there are any questions, call the manufacturer.
- Wear a Fall-Arrest System/Full Body Harness: These devices are the best method to keep you from being hurt in a fall. Single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer the safest restraints available; in fact, single-strap belts can cause internal injury when the wearer’s weight suddenly jerks them tight. Furthermore, the pressure from a single strap or chest harness on the abdomen or chest can cause rapid loss of consciousness.
- Plan for self rescue: Carry a screw-in step or a relief strap so you can hang comfortably until rescued, or so you can rescue yourself.
- Climb with care: When a hunter is climbing and getting into or out of the stand are the most dangerous times. Always put on a full body harness before climbing.
- Use a pull rope: Sometimes called a haul line, this is used to pull gear, including firearms and bows, to the tree stand once the hunter is safely positioned.
- Don’t load your firearm until you are secure in your stand.
- Always let someone know where you are. Leave a note at the house or on the windshield of your vehicle stating where you will be and what time you expect to return. Also, take your cell phone. You never know when you will need it.