Tree stands are an important but often over looked part of hunting history. Understanding how a treestand works and the best way to use one can mean the difference between a clean kill and a long fall to the forest floor. But, how did we arrive at the modern tree stand? And what can learn so that we purchase the right one?
The myriad of climbing stands available today are most likely descendants of treestands made by the Baker Manufacturing Company in Georgia during the late 1960s. Early designs were primitive and were limited to a piece of plywood to stand on with an angled piece of flat steel that went around the tree to keep the individual at the desired height. The early designs required the hunter to “hug” the tree while ascending or descending. A few years later, a hand climber similar in design to the bottom portion of a climbing stand was developed that kept individuals from having to “hug” a tree to ascend and descend.
Since the early days, manufacturers have significantly improved the design, comfort, load capacity, and adherence to the tree. In addition to climbing stands, hang-on and ladder stands have become increasingly popular with hunters wanting to minimize the amount of noise and movement they make as they get into a stand under hunting conditions. Many of the improvements are a result of manufacturers who formed the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and worked with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Modern stands certified by TMA are very comfortable and undergo rigorous testing to ensure the product will do what the manufacturer claims for the life of the stand.
As technology has improved, the manufacturing process has changed significantly. Early treestands were usually manufactured using manual labor and welding processes. Modern treestands are manufactured with the use of assembly line processes including robotics much like a car manufacturing plant. Many stands utilize aluminum and alloys to minimize rust and increase the life expectancy of the stand.
Many accessories developed in recent years further improve a hunter’s ability to have a safe hunt and return home. Full body harnesses have become much more comfortable and easier to use. Manufacturers have developed harnesses that are tangle free and can be put on in very little time. Climbing systems, suspension trauma relief devices, and many other safety items have been developed in recent years. These innovations have resulted in increased use of fall restraint devices and saved countless lives.
Before the upcoming hunting season begins, take your treestands and other hunting accessories out of the closet and thoroughly inspect each of the items to ensure they will function properly. Replace any nuts or bolts that appear to be damaged in any manner. Stitching on seat cushions and rail coverings may need to be repaired or replaced. Practice with all of your stands in the yard prior to installing them on a tree under hunting conditions. Most importantly, never use a treestand without using a full body harness to attach yourself to the tree from the moment you leave the ground.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visitwww.outdooralabama.com. An instructional video on treestand safety may also be found at www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/safety.cfm.