Tree stands have single handedly changed the way Americans hunt. Not too long ago hunting everything from white tails to hogs involved either stalking game or hiding in ambush. Both involved as much luck as skill and even if wide open areas were available to you much of it remained out of view. Sure, some old-timers had tree stands but they were more nothing like what we see today and were usually permanent. Today’s tree stands allow a hunter to get off the ground, increasing visibility and decreasing detection. They are also designed for easy portability, allowing their use at multiple locations.
But every silver cloud has a dark spot and for tree stands that dark spot is safety or lack thereof. Each year hunters are injured and even killed by simply falling out of their tree stand. Even worse is the fact that almost every one of these accidents could have been prevented if the hunters have followed some simple steps. Hopefully this advice will prevent you from becoming a statistic.
- Know you equipment – very few hunters would consider venturing into the woods with a new firearm they have never fired and the same should go for your tree stand. Get it out of the box and practice setting it up. Read the manual and make sure you understand all the features, parts and limitations. Learn from practice rather than trial and error.
- Let someone know where you are – if an accident does happen the last thing you want is for those who are missing you to have no idea where to look. Make sure that someone knows where you will be hunting and how to get to your stand just in case.
- Always strap in – the single most important thing you can do to prevent a fall from your stand is to never leave the ground without a safety harness. If your feet leave the ground your harness should be attached. Make sure you use a harness designed for hunting, that fits you properly and which includes drop stirrups (to relieve pressure from legs if you do fall).
- If you are not comfortable get down – It’s tempting to hunt no matter what. Bad weather and lack of sleep are put a few of the issues hardcore hunters will push through for a day in the woods. However, balancing on an elevated platform during high winds or when you can’t seem to keep your eyes open can be deadly. Sometimes it is just better to stay on the ground.
- Never forget it can happen to you – I doubt any hunter walked into the woods thinking “This is it, this is the day I will have an accident.” I would bet that most have said just the opposite “It will never happen to me.” Guess what? Thinking it will never happen to you is the first step to having an accident!