The Aerial Peril of Tree Stands
Dr. John Woods 11.04.19
Have you ever fallen out of a tree stand or come close? I have. Twice. Neither of those events I would classify as among my most enjoyable incidents. Lucky for me I was not injured seriously, except for a disjointed shoulder and missing a cypress knee by mere inches. I still think about that one in a cold sweat.
Hard to believe that deer hunting seasons are upon us. Some bow hunting seasons open in September, more in October. Many gun seasons start in November when it is finally cold and subject to icing conditions. So, it’s time to start thinking about gathering up hunting stands for inspections and maintenance. Fix them up, repair or replace them and get ready to hide them in favorite places, always with safety in mind.
Tree stands are popular. Tree stands are dangerous. That is a combination for a high likelihood of an accident. Sure it will never happen to you. It was never going to happen to me either, but it does.
If you have gotten a new stand, assemble it exactly as the manufacturer’s directions instruct you to do. Don’t alter anything, and don’t skip anything.
Clean and inspect any safety harness you have or if worn out, replace it. Get a whole body harness for the upper torso and the legs that will keep you vertical should you slip out of a stand, climber, lock-on or even a ladder stand regardless of the height you hunt. Use the safety harness when climbing up or down. Take your time, it is not a race. Use a gear tether, too.
When installing any tree stand, get help. Have somebody on the ground to watch and assist. They can help hold a ladder in place so it does not slip sideways or fall back when attaching the lock down ratchet strap. Fully tighten the strap. Some use two. Make sure the ladder feet are set into the ground. For lock-on stands, double check the stand and the climbing sticks to fully secure them. If the stand has a bad attachment to the tree, do it over, get it right.
Tree stand safety should be a top priority for any deer hunter, archery or firearm that hunts elevated. Use common sense any time you climb into a tree stand or come down out of one. Get used to wearing a safety harness. It could save your life.