Tree Stand Safety
OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY WHEN HEADING TO THE WOODS SHOULDN’T BE TAKING A BIG BUCK—IT SHOULD BE STAYING SAFE IN YOUR STAND.
There are few things more fulfilling for serious hunters than time spent in the woods. No matter whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned veteran, rising before dawn and watching the woods wake up is an unforgettable experience. Sadly, though, not all trips to the woods end with fond memories. A fall from a tree stand can cause serious, permanent injury or even death. These risks are compounded by the fact that many of us hunt in remote areas far from medical assistance and family members may not begin searching for missing hunters until several hours after an injury.
Tree Stand Safety
our number one priority when heading to the woods shouldn’t be taking a big buck—it should be staying safe in your stand.
There are few things more fulfilling for serious hunters than time spent in the woods. No matter whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned veteran, rising before dawn and watching the woods wake up is an unforgettable experience. Sadly though, not all trips to the woods end with fond memories. A fall from a tree stand can cause serious, permanent injury or even death. These risks are compounded by the fact that many of us hunt in remote areas far from medical assistance and family members may not begin searching for missing hunters until several hours after an injury. These aren’t just random, rare occurrences, either; statistics say that falls from tree stands are the single leading cause of injury to hunters and that as many as one-third of all hunters will experience a fall from a stand. That might mean a lost day of hunting, a few bruises or a sprain—or something far worse.
“There are, on average, over 5,000 visits per year to ERs due to tree stand falls,” says Jay Everett, Marketing Manager for Hunter Safety System. “Some 300-500 of those will end in permanent disability, 20-30 will end in death. Of the 5,000, all of them thought ‘that stuff always happens to the other guy.’ Tree stand falls don’t care what kind of stand you hunt out of, how secure you feel, how old you are, how athletic you are, how good of shape you are in or how good of a climber you are.”
Every hunter is responsible for ensuring that they have taken all of the necessary steps to prevent serious injury. Hunters are risking permanent damage if they don’t take steps to be certain that they are protected against falls from tree stands. From the moment you step foot off the ground until you are back on Earth at the end of the hunt, you must be secure. Let’s break a typical tree stand hunt down step-by-step so that you know the key elements to staying safe all through your time in the woods.
Arrival and Departure
When you first reach your stand, you need to set aside dreams of big bucks and focus entirely on getting set in your stand safely. It may seem that getting into and out of your stand is the easy part. On the contrary, that’s when you are most likely to get hurt.
“Some studies show over 80% of falls don’t happen from the tree stand but instead during the climb or getting in or out of the stand,” says Everett. You are most likely to be injured during stand entry and exit, so you need to take special precautions.
First, before I even reach the tree, I have a light so that I can see what I am doing in the dark. I prefer a head-mounted light, which is lightweight and allows me to keep both hands free. The beam is always directed at what I am looking at, and I always pack a spare battery or two for the head lamp so that if I am caught after dark in the stand there’s no chance I’ll be left unable to see during my descent.
You need to be secured from the moment that your boots first leave the ground, and that begins by wearing a quality safety harness. For climbing stands you must have a climbing strap—it is imperative that you never trust your climbing stand’s design to prevent a fall. If you are using a ladder stand, you’ll need a Lifeline. The Hunter Safety System Lifeline system allows you to attach the carabiner to your safety harness on the ground and climb without the risk of fall. Best of all, the “cowbell” carabiner sheath makes the unit virtually silent and the reflective is easy to see when you are walking through the woods in the dark. You must stay securely and safely attached to the tree throughout the ascent, entry, exit and descent.
In the Stand
You’ll need mobility in the stand, but you must be certain that your safety harness is securely and comfortably attached to your body and that the harness, in turn, is secured to the tree. Hunter Safety System offers a wide variety of harnesses that aren’t binding or painful, yet provide the level of security you need. It’s also important to be sure that the safety harness strap isn’t so loose that you could fall even a short way; mobility is important in the stand, but even a short, hard drop can be jarring. Also, keeping your stand area neat and clutter free will help eliminate falls.
Don’t become a statistic by doing something foolish. Taking the time to ensure your safety will lead to a lifetime of wonderful hunting memories.
For more information on Hunter Safety System and their line of protective gear designed for hunters, visit their website at www.huntersafetysystem.com