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Tree Stand Safety

Tree Stand Safety, BowTreestand incidents are one of the leading causes of injury to hunters.  One in three people who hunt from an elevated stand will have a fall resulting in serious injury. The following information will provide you with tips and information for safe treestand hunting.

Types of Treestands:
The following is a description of some of the more well known types of treestands:
  • Fixed position stands – these stands are designed to be placed on a tree and remain secured in that spot.
  • Vertical ladder stands – this type of stand has a ladder that supports the shooting platform.  The ladder is usually divided into short sections that can be assembled on site.  The ladder legs extend at a slight angle out from the stand and tree trunk, and are secured to the trunk via supporting arms and belts.
  • Permanent stands – such stands may be placed in a tree or cluster of trees and left there.  They are exposed to weather and may over time deteriorate.  Never trust the safety of a permanent tree stand that was built previously by someone else.
  • Climbing stands – the most popular type of stand, the climber is designed to walk up a tree trunk with the hunter to a desired elevation.

Safety Harness:
  • Always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system, when you are in a treestand, as well as when climbing into or out of a treestand.
  • A safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12 inches.
  • In the event of a fall, harnesses provide some cushion, generally about four inches, which is the result of the alternately tightening and slipping of the harness as well as the normal stretch of the material.
  • Always inspect the safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use.
  • Follow all manufactures’ instructions for use of a safety harness and stand.

3 Point Rule:
Follow the 3 point rule of treestand safety.  Always have 3 points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving.  This could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving.  Be cautious that rain, frost, ice, or snow can cause steps to become extremely slippery.  Check the security of the step before placing your weight on it.


Treestand Manufacturer’s Association – Treestand Safety Guidelines
  • ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer allowed Fall- Arrest devices and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
  • ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season. Practice with the treestand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions. Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the treestand. Use all safety devices provided with your treestand.
  • NEVER exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer. If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer.
  • ALWAYS inspect the treestand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use. Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts. Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists. The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.
  • ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult prior to using it in an elevated hunting envornment, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level and how to properly use your suspension relief device.
  • ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your treestand. Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal. Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device. Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death. If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.
  • ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.
  • ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your FAS. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
  • ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand’s instructions. Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.
  • ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.
  • ALWAYS know your physical limitations. Don’t take chances. Do not climb when using drugs, alcohol or if you’re sick or un-rested. If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
  • NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated stands or make modifications to a purchased treestand without the manufacturer’s written permission. Only purchase and use treestands and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards. For a detailed list of certified products, contact the TMA office or refer to the TMA web site at http://www.tmastands.com.
  • NEVER hurry!! While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time. Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or treestand every time you move. On ladder-type treestands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

Treestand Safety Guidelines

For a quick safety course that covers all aspects of treestand safety, please visit:
www.hunterexam.com/treestandsafety 

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