Tree Stands are a great way to both increase the area you can see, while decreasing the chances that a deer will smell or see you. They do however pose some very serious threats to the big game hunter who uses them without proper safety equipment and understanding.
The following recommendations will help make you a safer and hopefully more successful hunter.
Read the Manufacturers Instructions
This sounds simple, but if you are like me the second your new toy is out of the box you had it along side the street trying it on the telephone pole. Tree stands are designed to get the hunter 15-20+ feet off the ground, a fall from this height can and does kill many hunters every year. Read all the direction fully, including the warnings, they are there for a reason. If you don't understand a section, call the company and ask.
Buy and Use an Approved Safety Harness
The safety harness is the most important piece of hunting equipment you can use if you choose to hunt from a tree stand. If you happen to fall in your excitement at seeing a "monster" or fall asleep the harness will quickly arrest your fall, and allow you to safely get back into the stand, most likely without injury. The best harnesses are the full body style worn by steelworkers and linemen. They are designed to spread the weight of the user over a larger body area and keep the wearer upright. The belt types will stop your fall, but they will certainly hurt your abdomen, and possibly leave you hanging upside down. Use your safety harness from the second your leave the ground until you return
Do NOT Carry your gun or bow into the stand
Accidents happen and the time you are either climbing into or out of the stand are the two single most dangerous aspects of using a tree stand! Use a rope and attach it to your stand, when you are ready you can pull your gear up after you. Do not keep your gun loaded when pulling it up or lowering it, the tip of the barrel will be pointing up and even the best firearms can touch off if bumped hard enough (as in against a tree).
Selecting a Tree
Avoid setting your stand up in a smooth loosely barked tree (such as Aspen, Maple, Hickory or Birch)the bark can allow your stand to slide, with hazardous consequences. Also follow your manufacturers recommendations as to tree diameter. A tree that is to large or small will not allow your stand to work as required.
By following these easy steps you can help ensure your safety and ultimately success while hunting from a tree stand. Nobody can fill a tag from a hospital bed or worse a morgue. Hunt smart, hunt safe, above all get out and HUNT!
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