As we roll into September, hunters’ minds start to really focus on the upcoming season. For many, the start of that season is an early archery season. With that in mind hunter’s place their trail cameras throughout their hunter areas trying to locate target deer for the upcoming season. They also start thinking about strategic tree stand placement based on what the primary food source(s) will be for their area as the season starts. Hunting from an elevated position is a crucial strategy that many bow hunters use to get an advantage and tip the scales of success in their favor.
Hunting with tree stands are a safe and highly effective means for hunting whitetail deer along with other species. However, every year there are hunters (archery and firearms) that have falls from tree stands because they weren’t following some basic safety principles causing injuries and in a few cases death. The Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation has developed the ABC’s of Tree Stand Safety to keep these safety principles simple and help ensure you come home safe to your family and friends.
“A” stands for Always remove and inspect your equipment prior to use. Tree stands are not designed to be left in the woods from season to season. You should inspect all of your equipment that you will be using including your stand(s), climbing aids/ladder systems, full-body harness, and any ropes or straps that will be used in conjunction with your stand. You should inspect the nuts, bolts, straps, ratchets, cables, and safety ropes for any signs of deterioration, wear, cuts, and don’t forget to check your full-body harness to ensure it has not expired and is not damaged. If you find something that is missing, damaged or showing signs of wear, immediately take it out of service and reach out to the manufacturer to get replacement parts.
“B” stands for the Buckle on your full-body harness every single time before you climb. Full-body harnesses are included with every tree stand purchased that has passed ASTM standards recognized by the Tree Stand Manufacturer’s Association. If you are not going to use the supplied harness, there are a number of full-body harness manufacturers that produce excellent products for use with tree stands. Today’s full-body harness are easy to use, light weight and comfortable, and come in different styles and options to suit your style of hunting. You must wear a full-body harness any time you’re hanging a stand, checking a stand, practicing from a stand, hunting, or taking a stand down. Having your full-body harness on and connected will help give you confidence in the stand so that you can make the shot safely when the moment arrives. It’s important to practice putting your harness on correctly prior to using it.
“C” stands for Connect before your feet leave the ground. The full-body harness is just another piece of clothing or equipment if it is not attached to the tree. It’s somewhat like jumping from a plane with a parachute but never pulling the cord. For the harness to work properly, you must be connected to the tree 100% of the time with either a linesman belt/rope and tree strap, or a rope safety line. This includes installing and taking down stands, ladder systems, climbing up and down to your stand, while hunting or practicing. It is extremely important when seated in your stand that your tether not have slack in it to minimize the drop distance if a fall should occur. This will not affect your ability to make the shot. Minimizing slack will greatly increase your ability to self-recover/rescue if you fall. If you fall and can’t self-recover, you must immediately deploy your suspension relief strap/system that is included with your full-body harness. You should practice using it at a low level prior to hunting.
Lastly, “D” stands for sharing your Destination. None of us ever think we’re going to have a medical emergency or get injured while hunting and in some situations every minute counts. This is why it is extremely important to share your hunt and stand location with your hunting partners and/or a family member prior to the hunt. Using one of the hunting apps, a printed map or some other method will help make it easier for rescuers to find you in an emergency. You should always carry a signaling device such as a whistle on your person as cell phones don’t always work in remote locations. The time saved by letting others know where to look for you in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death.
Practicing the ABCs of Tree Stand Safety will help ensure you come home safe to your family and friends. For more information on the ABCs of Tree Stand Safety, go to www.treestandsafetyawareness.org