We all love our treestands, especially after they give us a golden shot at the biggest buck we’ve ever seen in our lives. However, treestands can also be a major hunting hazard: according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, a whopping one-third of total national hunting accidents involve treestands. And while you may not think of a treestand as the thing out in the hunting field that might get you seriously injured while you are building it, there are still a few safety tips that every hunter should have in place when dealing with treestands. We’ve collected some of the biggest treestand safety dos and don’ts below.
Do check and double check the instructions.
If you are installing a commercial treestand structure that you purchased from your favorite outdoor supply store, it will come with a comprehensive instructional manual for how to install it correctly. Don’t throw away the instructions and use the treestand as a test for your innate craftsmanship abilities. Instead, make sure you follow each step to a T. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to skip a screw or a nail on any structure from which you will be firing a lethal weapon.
Don’t climb up to your treestand with your rifle or other equipment in hand.
Whether you are mounting a store-bought stand or climbing tree-limbs to reach a self-made permanent stand in the foliage, carrying your rifle in one hand is a bad idea. At best, you leave yourself climbing up a tree one-handed. At worst, you drop the gun, it goes off, and you get hurt or killed by the shot. Either way, it’s not worth the risk.
Do lift your gear up using a haul line.
If you have a permanent treestand, you might have already made a makeshift elevator to lift your guns and gear up into the tree. If you are installing a temporary stand, you will want to bring along a haul line so that you can lift everything up once you are safe and comfortable in the stand. Do not, however, haul a loaded gun up with a line. Firearm preparation should take place after you are already in the tree.
Do choose strong, living trees for your treestand.
This tip almost goes without saying, but it’s worth testing limbs for rot or weakness before you start depending on them to hold your weight. In the same vein, don’t trust that a permanent treestand will be in tip-top shape when you return to your favorite hunting tree after a year away. Most self-made treestands require upkeep, new nails, new wood, or complete re-building every hunting season.
Don’t climb if you are tired and alone or don’t have a manner of communicating with the outside world.
If you think you are at a risk for falling asleep, either call it a day or hunt from your favorite blind instead. It’s all too easy to fall out of a tree stand if you doze off. If you fall and hurt yourself, but can’t contact the outside world, then your situation can easily descend into dire territory. Always have your cellphone, and if service is unreliable, bring along a whistle so you can attract other nearby hunters if you need help.
Featured image via Omid Jahromi