September is when a lot deer hunters start crawling back into trees. In some states, the season opens in September. In others, hunters are hanging their stands in preparation of an October opener. To help ensure hunters keep safety in mind, September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month.
Hunting from a tree stand can be a safe and enjoyable way to hunt as long as hunters are responsible and make every effort to ward off accidents. Sadly, hunters die or become crippled every deer season from tree stand falls. In most cases, these falls could be avoided. A safety harness would likely have saved those lives.
The Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA) is a grassroots 501(c)(3) organization with a sole focus on significantly reducing tree stand accidents through promotion, education and best practices. TSSA offers a few basic safety principles called the ABCs of Tree Stand Safety.
They are A: Always remove and inspect your equipment before using. 35% of falls involved inspection elements. B: Buckle your harness securely. 86% of fall victims didn’t wear a harness. C: Connect before your feet leave the ground. 99% of fall victims were not attached. D: Destination – share your stand location for each hunt. In an emergency, every minute counts. These are the “Building Blocks of Tree Stand Safety.”
“By practicing these four simple steps, you can fully enjoy your tree stand hunting experience and come home safe to your family and friends,” said Glen Mayhew, President of TSSA. “If you don’t have your full-body harness, don’t climb. Hunt from the ground.”
According to a recent TSSA press release, thanks to a concerted effort from across the outdoors and hunting industries, we have seen a significant reduction (42.8% in the last 4 years of the estimated number of tree stand falls requiring emergency care). While the reduction in falls is great news, the goal is zero. There is still much room for improvement.
When I was a kid, we hunted out of tree stands hammered together out of scrap wood. We climbed on tree branches or steps nailed into the side of a tree. Once we were in our stands, we would strap in with iron worker belts. Not the ideal safety system, but it was better than nothing, I suppose. But we were not protected while climbing. This is very dangerous, because nearly 90% of falls occur while ascending or descending a tree, or climbing onto or off of a stand.
I have to admit, I have not been always been great about using a safety line while climbing. Hunter Safety System offers a product called the Life Line. I have a couple and use them. It’s pretty simple. You loop it around the tree and move it up as you climb the first time you use it. Then you leave it in place and clip into the sliding buckle each to you ascend or descend the tree. If you fall, the slide cinches and stops you.
TSSA offers information and videos on their website and social media channels covering the ABCs of Tree Stand Safety Interactive. There are how to videos on YouTube explaining how to use different safety products.
If you’re going to hunt from a treestand, then you need to wear safety equipment. There is no excuse. With today’s advanced harnesses, you’ll be comfortable while protecting yourself and your family. From the time your feet leave the ground until they touch back down, wear safety equipment. Don’t risk it. Your life is way too important. Wear a safety harness and use a support line.
See you down the trail…
Pic: When hunting from a tree stand, safety is the hunter’s top priority.
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