The deer rut can be some of the best hunting all year for bowhunters, and in the whirlwind of activity that takes place during this special time, it can be easy to get lackadaisical about safety practices. Every year, a surprising number of treestand hunters fall from treestands, some suffering serious injury or death.
“I’ve found that approximately 50 percent of all treestand hunters do not use any form of fall arrest devise,” says Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism assistant hunter education coordinator Aaron Austin, “so it’s not surprising that up to 30 percent of hunters who hunt from treestands will have an incident sometime in their lives.” Since treestand incidents aren’t required to be reported the way firearm-related hunting incidents are, Austin believes the number is a lot higher.
“As a bowhunter, I feel that being 20 feet up in a tree is part of the tradition of deer hunting, but it is important for hunters to be aware of the dangers of treestand hunting,” says Austin. “There are some great products on the market that fix this problem such as the Hunter Safety System Lifeline used in conjunction with a safety harness. This system allows the hunter to stay attached to the tree from the ground to the stand using a simple Prusik knot that slides up and down the line while ascending or descending the tree.”
Apart from using a proper-fitting full-body fall arrest system, Austin recommends treestand hunters keep the following in mind to stay safe this season:
- Select a live, straight tree to hang a stand on, and never hang a stand on a power pole.
- While hanging a stand or climbing a tree for the first time, use a full-body fall arrest system that is equipped with a lineman style climbing belt. A climbing rope, such as a HSS Lifeline, can then be permanently attached above the stand and to the base of the tree so that the hunter is always attached to the tree.
- Permanent stands are particularly dangerous and should be avoided because nails always pull out over time.
- ALWAYS maintain three points of contact with your steps or ladder while climbing up or down the tree.
- Use a haul line to raise or lower hunting equipment instead of trying to carry it.
- While the hunter is seated, there should be little to no slack in the tether that secures the hunter to the tree. Failure to keep the tether above the hunter could result in the hunter being unable to reboard the stand platform after a fall.
- Cold weather can effect the body and mind in several ways, including a delayed down reaction time, tightened muscles, and numbness, therefore treestand hunters should take every precaution to stay as warm as possible while hunting.
- Hunters should be cautious of any surface on the treestand that is wet, frosty or muddy. Failure to take notice of this can cause a hunter to lose traction, creating a potentially serious hazard.
For more information, including videos and current statistics on treestand safety, visit www.projectstand.net.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism