Three types of hunters when it comes to harnesses, but only one knows safety

It’s one thing for a hunter to own a tree stand harness and another to actually use it to prevent what studies have shown to be the leading cause of hunter injuries during the deer hunting seasons.

Studies in the last 10 years document the willingness of hunters to understand the importance of using the harness to ensure a safe trip up and down from a tree stand. To the disappointment of safety specialists, those same studies show the majority of hunters have yet to make the mental leap to actually put the thing on.

And as a result, falls from tree stands remain bad news in Wisconsin.

“Falls are the leading cause of injury during the gun-deer hunting seasons. That’s the bad news. The good news is falls are preventable,” Hunter Education Administrator Jon King says. “Any hunter who uses the tree stand can increase their safety substantially by following a few simple tips.”

Two studies and one survey from two states – same result

A 2010 study of Ohio hunters shows the leading cause of injuries during the gun-deer season is a fall from a tree stand. That also was the conclusion of a 2008 Wisconsin study.

“Using a full body harness is your best bet to ensure your safety when using a tree stand,” King said. The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association says their studies show 82 percent of the hunters who fall from their stands are not wearing the full-body harnesses.

In Wisconsin a 2003 survey of state hunters found roughly two-thirds who use tree stands own a harness. However, less than one-third actually used it. Another third of the gun-deer hunters did not own a full-body version.

King says the harnesses are easy to use and provide hunters with support to go up and come down from the stands.

Learn more by completing this free 15-minute online course: www.huntercourse.com/treestandsafety (exit DNR). More information about tree stand safety is also available on the DNR website.

Here are more steps to stay safe when using your tree stand:

  • select a tree that is substantial enough to support your weight;
  • read, understand and follow all of the manufacturer’s recommended procedures;
  • do not alter your equipment;
  • have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the tree stand; either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times;
  • use a haul line to raise and lower your UNLOADED firearm;
  • use a short tether between you and the tree when seated in the tree stand;
  • let people know where you’ll be hunting, where you’ll be parking your vehicle, and when you intend to return;
  • carry a cell phone with you if you have one, and keep it in a pocket you can reach and in a pocket the phone will not fall out of in the event of a fall.

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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