Tips for Safe Deer Hunting
Deer hunters who plan to hunt from tree stands should consider safety issues before climbing.
Hunting deer from tree stands provides a great vantage point for shooting. However, each year brings news of hunters who die from accidents involving tree stands. Observing a few safety precautions will reduce the likelihood of a hunting outing ending in tragedy.
Hunters Must Consider Physical Fitness Before Climbing
It is essential that hunters gauge their abilities realistically. Individuals with medical conditions that cause an increased risk of dizziness or diminished balance should not climb. If a hunter has been advised by a physician to avoid strenuous activity, he should not climb. Likewise, hunters who use medications that cause dizziness or drowsiness should not climb.
Only Use Tree Stands That Are in Good Repair
Tree stands that are damaged, missing parts, or poorly constructed are extremely dangerous. The hunter should examine stands before the hunting season begins, and make repairs or replacements. Many hunters construct permanent stands on private land, and these may become damaged from year to year. Special care should be taken to make sure that all weight-bearing joints, steps, and connections are strong and correctly positioned.
Follow Manufacturer’s Directions
Tree stands should be used as the manufacturer directs. When purchasing used equipment, the hunter should make sure that the directions are included with the stand. The Treestand Manufacturer’s Association recommends against using homemade tree stands, although many of these exist. Hunters who choose to construct their own stands, or use homemade stands, should be aware of the increased possibility of injury resulting from faulty design or poor choice of building materials. Guns, bows, backpacks, and other equipment should be raised to the stand after the hunter is safely seated. Hunters should never attempt to climb with a loaded weapon. Weight limitations must be observed. A 230-pound hunter, fully equipped with an insulated jacket, boots, weapon, and backpack, probably exceeds a 250-pound weight limit.
Use a Fall Arrest System / Full Body Harness
Fall Arrest System / Full Body Harness (FAS/FBH) equipment, used properly, will prevent the hunter from falling out of the tree. The FAS/FBH must be worn according to the manufacturer’s directions and attached to the tree so that there is no slack. Incorrect positioning of the FAS/FBH can result in the hunter becoming entangled during a fall. Chest straps should not be used, as chest compression can cause suffocation during the suspension.
Hunters Should Plan for Emergencies
If the tree stand fails or the hunter loses his balance, he may find himself suspended by the FAS/FBH. Agile hunters may be able to regain their position in the tree stand. Others may have to remain suspended until help arrives. Hunting with a buddy means help is already nearby. A lone hunter who finds himself in this predicament must have the means to call for help. A cell phone, walkie-talkie, personal location device, or whistle is essential equipment for hunters. Hanging in the harness for a long period of time can cause suspension injuries from reduced blood flow to the legs. Pushing against the tree with the legs helps keep blood flowing to the extremities.
Treestand Safety Course Available Online
Hunters can increase their safety awareness by visiting a website that offers a 15 to 20 minute animated and narrated “Treestand Safety Course” online. Each year, great numbers of people participate in the great sport of hunting. Correct use of all equipment, whether it be firearms or climbing structures, rewards hunters with safe, enjoyable outdoor adventure.