In the South almost all bow hunters are hunting from the tree stands and many of the gun hunters are, too. Hunting from an elevated position gives the hunter several advantages, such as remaining above the white-tailed deer’s field of view, keeping the hunter’s scent above that of a mature white-tailed buck‘s nose, and also increasing our visibility of the woods.
Unfortunately, as the use of tree stands has increased, so have the number of hunters injuring themselves through both proper and improper use. Deer hunting has become one of the safest sports in America, but with some common sense precautions it can become even safer.
Tree stands can be used safely. I have used ladder-type stands, climbing stands, lock-on-stands, as well as built-in stands made of lumber. I will not use a stand if it seems unsafe to me and neither should you. One important reason is simply because hunters are usually alone in the woods and far from both help and any type of medical attention.
If you were injured and couldn’t notify someone, it could be many hours, maybe even days, before anyone would even suspect something could be wrong. Every time you climb into a tree stand you are taking some risk, but you can minimize that risk. Remember, it only takes a second to kill yourself.
The most common ways people get injured using tree stands is falling asleep, slipping when climbing into or out of a stand, or having tree stand components break. Luckily, there is a simple cure for all of these problems – a safety harness.
However, having a safety harness will not help unless you are diligent about using it. It is not good enough to put the harness on after you have settled into your stand. Climbing into or out of your stand is when you are most likely to be hurt. Ideally you should be tied off and secured as you climb.
Without a doubt, using a safety harness is the single most important step you can take to ensure your safety when using any type of tree stand. Even with a safety harness it is possible that you could be injured in a fall, but the damage will probably not be life threatening. Also, remember to attach the tether up the tree so that it is almost tight when you sit down. This shortens your fall should you or the stand slip.