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How Not to Die in the Woods: Tree Stand Safety



Image courtesy Alaska Fish & Game:

Falls from tree stands are the leading cause of hunter deaths.

Bowhunting seasons are in full swing throughout most of the country, and firearm seasons have just begun. As hunters hit the woods, Whitetails Unlimited reminds hunters to use the proper safety equipment. Hunting from elevated stands of all types creates an inherently dangerous situation because of something that pulls on us every day – gravity. While tripping over a root or rock and hitting the ground can cause injury, most of these injuries are relatively minor. However, a fall from a much greater height – like a tree stand – can result in a much more serious or life-changing injury, or even death.

The numbers are surprising: one out of three hunters who use an elevated stand will be injured. Those are not good odds. Any time you are above ground, you are in danger and need to protect yourself. Hunters need to use a Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System (FBFAHS) that meets stringent industry standards. Single-strap belts and chest harnesses have proven to be unsafe; and in fact, single strap belts can themselves cause serious injuries or death.

But just wearing a harness is not enough. The second component in the safety system is a lifeline or safety line that attaches securely to the tree, and then connects to the hunter’s FBFAHS. This is not just a hunk of random rope, but an integral part of the safety system. It will support the hunter’s weight without breaking, and the inclusion of a Prusik knot allows a hunter to be connected during ascent and descent, as well as when sitting in the stand. The Prusik knot slides easily going up and down, but if there is a sudden fall, the knot tightens immediately, helping to prevent serious injury.

“Injuries from tree stand falls are easily preventable,” says Whitetails Unlimited Program Services Director Russ Austad. “The tools are available and the cost is minimal so there should be no excuse for not using the proper safety equipment.”

Have you had a “narrow escape” from a tree stand? Tell us in the comments!

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