Tree Stand Safety

In the South almost all of the deer hunters are hunting from the tree stands. Hunting from above gives you several advantages, such as remaining above a deer's field of view, keeping your scent above the deers nose, as well as often increasing our visibility of the woods. Unfortunately, as the use of tree stands increases, so has the number of hunters injuring themselves through there use. Deer hunting has become one of the safest sports you can engage in. With some common sense precautions it can become even safer.

Tree stands can be used safely. I have used many types of stands, often in conjunction with climbing spurs. I have used both ladder-type stands climbing stands, lock-on-stands as well as boards nailed to a tree as deer stands. I've been using tree stands for deer hunting ever since I started hunting and I've never been injured.

I won't use a stand if it seems unsafe to me, because where I hunt, I am usually hunting by myself well away from home. If I were to be injured and couldn't notify anyone it would be many hours before I could expect anyone to start searching for me. Risk is not a something that should be taken lightly. Every time you climb into a stand you are taking some risk. It only takes a second to kill yourself.

It might help you to know some of the common ways people are injured using tree stands. Falling asleep, slipping when climbing in or out of the stand and having components break are the most common ways that hunters are injured. There is a common cure for all of these possibilities. A safety harness. But having a safety harness will not help you unless you wear it. It is not good enough to put the harness in use after you have settled into your stand. Remember climbing into or out of your stand is when you are most likely to be hurt. Ideally you should be tied off and secured as you climb, when getting in or out of your stand as well as when you are waiting on the big buck. The hassle this causes is small when you really look at it. It is more of a mental hassle than anything else. The delay is usually not more than a minute. Thats a small price to pay to ensure that you will go home at the end of the hunt.

Without a doubt using a safety harness is the single most important step you can take to ensure your safety. Even with a safety harness it is possible that you could be injured in a fall. But the damage will usually not be life threatening and will usually not even put an end to the hunt. Bruises can be avoided when using a safety harness bruises by attaching the tether up the tree so that it is almost tight when you sit down. This shortens your fall should you or the stand slip.

We would like to avoid any injury so here are a few steps to think about in relation to your stands that could minimize the chance of injury. Tree steps or tie on ladders are one of my favorite methods of gaining elevation in a tree. I also use large nails as steps. I am partial to nails because they are the cheaper then the tie on ladders. Others prefer climing stands but they limit you to certain trees. When using nails it is important to test the nail to be sure that it is still securely in place. I have not seen this but my cousin said they have some trees where the nails can be easily pulled out by hand due to the tree growing. My experience is that once in place the tree grows tightly around the nail. But nails can provide entry for bacteria and fungus into the tree. So I alway check to make sure the nail is secure. When using nails it is important to use nails that are long enough and sturdy enough to support your weight. Most injuries occur when the nail bends, causing a slip! Here is a tip for installing these big nails. Bring a portable drill so you can make pilot holes for the nail. These big nails are hard to drive due to their size, so having a pilot hole really helps to get the nail started.

Tie on ladder sticks should always be checked to make sure that they are still secured to the tree. Examine straps etc. to make sure that they have not become damaged or weakened.

Examine closely all parts of your stand for possible problems. Look for rust. Any parts that are rusted are now weaker than original unrusted strength. Check all stand parts of for cuts, nicks, or cracks. Make sure all nuts are not loose. Make sure all crimps on all wires are not damaged or rusted.

By: Mike Guerin

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