Tree Stands Safety Tips
Hunting from an elevated position certainly gives you and edge because you will have a better view, best reach, less obstacles on your shooting line than those found at ground level and will help to stealth, however as well there are a lot of benefits, you are exposing to increased risks too.
Being on a tree stand for hours is not an easy task, especially for beginners. On the other hand, to climb and step out to/from a tree stand implies a real risk of falls and several injuries, so keeping in mind basic safety rules is critical to avoid accidents.
Falling from a tree stand is not a joke, more than one hunter have lost the life due to this type of accidents; something completely preventable following safety rules and common sense; so if you are planning to begin hunting from elevated positions, or if you are already doing it but giving no importance to safety measures, keep reading to learn the basics about safety hunting using a tree stand.
1. Read instructions carefully
Each stand has its own specifications and no one is like the others; so every time you use a new stand, be sure to read instructions thoroughly; furthermore, even if you have used your tree stand before, if you don't use it frequently, read the manual before the second use, just to be sure you don't forget any detail.
Remember to keep the weight on the tree stand withing the manufacturer's limits specifications!
2. Check your gear before installing it
No matter if it's a new apparel or your old, reliable tree stand; always check that everything is in good conditions and there are not missing parts before installing it.
Look for signs of material fatigue as well for wear; even if a little detail is wrong, avoid using the stand until the damaged part is replaced.
3. Practice at ground level
This is particularly important when you are using a piece of gear the first time. Install the tree stand at a lower position level and be sure everything works the way is supposed to.
You must also practice how to get in and out the tree stand until feeling comfortable doing it. Only when you are completely sure that things are working good and you feel safe enough to enter/leave the tree stand, the apparel can be installed on an elevated position.
4. Choose a strong, healthy, living tree to install your stand
Read manufacturer's instructions carefully and pay attention to minimum and maximum sizes of the tree where you will install the stand. Afterwards find a healthy, living, strong tree to install your gear.
Rough barked trees as oak are the best choice because the provide best attachment.
5. Always get hooked
Don't attempt to use a tree stand without being hooked to a safety line. Falls are the main cause of accidents when using tree stands, so a security line is not optional but mandatory.
Use a full body, fall arrest harness connected to a security line calibrated to avoid falls longer than 12 inches. Never replace the harness-security line with a common rope!
6. Don't climb to the tree stand carrying equipment
Your hands must be free to grab the apparel and your backpack must remain on the ground to avoid changes on your balance center. That's the best way to keep safe while climbing/descending from the tree stand.
Be sure to always have three contact points on the ladder when you are entering/leaving the tree stand. That means that when moving there are two feet and one arm in contact with the ladder or two hands and one foot.
Remember, all equipment must remain at ground level to be raised later using a haul line.
7. Raise your weapons and equipment separetely
Use a haul line to move equipment towards and from the three stand. Be sure that guns are unloaded during this operation with muzzle pointing downwards.
The proper sequence to upload equipment is:
a) Climb to the tree stand. Remember to go higher than its position and reach it from above in order to avoid dislodging it.
b) Hook yourself to the safety point
c) Rise the equipment using the haul line once you are properly positioned and secured
Everything must be done slow and carefully, with no rush. Especially during bad weather conditions.
To download your gear, the sequence is inverse:
a) Download the equipment using the haul line
b) Unhook from the safety point and hook to the climbing line
c) Leave your tree stand slowly and safely
8. Don't fall asleep
That's one of the main cause of accidents, so be sure to be alert and in case of drowsiness, leave your tree stand before you get asleep. It's better to lose a game than the life because of a fall.
At the end, remember to put safety before anything else, after all, if you keep yourself alive and safe, there will be always new chances for a good hunt in the future.