With the hunting season coming up, it is timely to remember that tree stand accidents account for about 36% of all hunting accidents and in Maryland, they account for nearly half of all hunting accidents!
Tree Stand accidents can be caused by:
- Permanent stands that are nailed into the tree rot and become a danger
- Old or weakened wooden steps collapse causing injury or death
- Old or weakened stands can collapse resulting in injury or death
- Wooden steps or stands eventually get a slippery growth on them causing slips and falls
- Climbing a dead or diseased tree
Before using a tree stand:
- Check for metal fatigue on all joints and welds
- Check metal stands for rust
- Check for missing bolts or nuts
- Check wood for rot
- Check for deterioration due to poor storage
The biggest preventer of tree stand accidents is the wearing of a harness, preferably, a full-body harness. In one study only 15% of hunters wear a safety harness, although studies in other parts of the country report figures up to 30%.
Remember to use a fall restraint system, which is any device that hunters use to attach themselves to the tree to keep them from falling to the ground in an uncontrolled manner, and it also allows them to safely descend to the ground after falling.
The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association and the National Bowhunter Education Foundation [along with many other organizations] recommend wearing a full body harness.
A full body harness has straps under the legs and over the shoulders that are designed to keep you upright if you are involved in a tree stand accident. This doesn’t guarantee you won’t have an accident; however, it minimizes the potential for serious injury.
The best insurance against tree stand accidents is prevention which can be achieved by thoroughly checking your tree stand before use, and wearing a full body harness.
When using a tree stand, your fall restraint system is your single most important piece of equipment. A full body harness is preferable. A rope or belt around the waist can be almost as dangerous as falling to the ground. A belt around the waist can cause a hunter to turn upside down should they fall, and the tightening of the belt around their waist can cause internal injuries.
Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions on the use of your tree stand before using it. Practice using the tree stand during both the day and night before taking it hunting, as you may end up hanging it or taking it down in the dark. Practice at ground level and then progressively increase the height with the same equipment on that you will take hunting. Practice climbing into and out of your stand. Carry out the practice sessions in the presence of a responsible adult.