Outdoors: Deer hunters should be vigilant when hunting from treestands

Treestand safety

Hunters should always inspect the straps, cables and connecting points on their treestands before climbing.

With archery deer season underway many deer hunters will be using treestands in pursuit of the No. 1 game animal. Portable climbing and lock-on style stands along with ladder stands have been used for decades by deer hunters for a better vantage point when hunting deer with bow or gun.

With hunters focused on tagging a deer, treestand safety sometimes takes a back seat. Complacency with stand safety can lead to an accidental fall. Deer hunters using any type of treestand should be vigilant and all times before and during the hunt.

While hunting from a tree stand has its advantages, there are reasons for caution. Falls from tree stands are the top category for hunting accidents and injuries. However, with the proper precautions and a quality safety harness system, serious falls and injuries can be eliminated.

“Falls from tree stands are the leading cause of injuries of hunters,” said Marisa Futral, Hunter Education Coordinator with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Hunters should always wear a safety harness or fall-arrest system when in a tree stand.”

During the 2018-2019 hunting seasons, 15 treestand accidents were reported, and more than half of those individuals were age-exempt from having to complete a hunter education course. Of the five who did take the hunter ed course, all under the age of 40, only one of those was wearing a full-body harness when the accident occurred.

 “Three of the 15 accidents were fatalities,” said Futral. “Still, a lot of these accidents and injuries could have been prevented with a full-body harness.”

Of the three fatalities, none was wearing a full-body harness. Two of the fatalities were using climbing stands, while the other was in a hang-on stand. One fatality occurred when the straps on a climbing stand broke. Another fatality occurred from a climbing stand when a rusty bolt broke.

Futral mentions hunters should inspect their stands before heading out to the deer woods. Check the straps, chains or buckles for any weak spots or excessive wear. Also, check the lock pins and bolts. Inspect the welds for any cracks or breaks.

Ladder stands also require a close inspection. Many hunters leave their ladder stand out in the woods all year. Weather, wear and critters can damage the locking strap. Also, check the welds at each step. Rainwater can enter the tubing causing rust and weakening the material.

Most treestand accidents occur when the hunter is climbing or descending the tree. It is important the hunters always use a safety strap or rope to keep them attached to the tree. Hunter Safety Systems offer a lifeline and a carabiner/rope style strap that connects easily to a harness and the tree while climbing or descending.

Another safety point is hunters should not hurry when climbing or descending the tree. Stay focused and don’t rush.

Also, hunters should never climb with bow or gun on the stand. Keep both hands free when climbing. Use a pull-up rope to haul up your bow and other gear to your stand.

Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at charjohn@cableone.net