Last year Iowa had six treestand falls, all resulting in personal injury. Tree stand incidents are one of the leading causes of injury to hunters. The DNR urges hunters to utilize the following safety tips:
• National studies show that up to 30 percent of hunters that use a treestand without using/wearing the proper safety equipment will fall during their lifetime.
• Always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system, when you are in a tree stand, as well as when climbing into or out of a tree stand. One in two treestand users do not use a fall arrest device.
• Eighty-six percent of treestand incidents occur while climbing in and out of a stand.
• A safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12 inches.
• 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.
• Follow the three point rule of tree stand safety. Always have three 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.
• 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 fall arrest system. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an incident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
• Always select the proper tree for use with your tree stand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your tree stand’s instructions. Do not climb or place a tree stand against a leaning tree.
• Never leave a tree stand 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 tree stand 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 unrested. If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
• For more treestand safety tips visit: www.tmastands.com/_safety.html.
For more information, contact Megan Wisecup, Hunter Education Administrator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, at 515-238-4968.