You have waited all week to get to your favorite tree stand and take up your watch. The weather is perfect. The wind is down, it isn’t too cold, it is brisk and sunny and you are primed for this challenge. You climb to your position, you take up your rifle, and you begin the day. Hunting from a tree stand can be exhilarating. You are high up above ground, silently stalking your prey, waiting to deliver that killing blow. When it happens, there is nothing like it. The balance, skill and accuracy needed to pull off a kill like that are impressive. You are on top of the world…until you lose your balance, lose your grip and fall to the ground.
In order to avoid this beautiful image turning into a nightmare, there are a few safety points you should consider when hunting from a tree stand. Listed below are some of the most popular, as determined by injured hunters everywhere.
1.) When climbing to your initial position, always lean your body so that your weight is in front of you, against the ladder. This will prevent your weight from transferring behind you and pulling you off the ladder. Always maintain at least three different contacts between your body and the ladder. For instance, hanging by one hand and balancing on one foot only equates to 2 contact points, and is not a good idea.
2.) Never carry anything in your hands when ascending to your desired height. Keep both hands on the ladder when climbing, then use a hauling system to bring your gear and chair up into the tree. This is the most time consuming safety task there is when setting up your tree stand, but it is also one of the most troublesome when not followed. Take your time, be deliberate in your actions, and stay safe.
3.) During your watch, stay strapped or secured to the tree at all times. Many hunters remove their gear to readjust their view, raise or lower their seats, or to grab a sandwich. Take the time to set yourself up properly, so that you will not be forced to remove your safety gear at all during the time you are elevated.
4.) Carry a safety device to use for signaling or calling for help, in case you fall or become entangled. Do not rely on your cell phone exclusively. There is too great a chance that you will have your cell phone out and active during your watch. If you slip, fall, or lose your position for any reason, and that cell phone falls to the ground, you no longer have a safety signal. Use a signal that will remain affixed to your body somehow, so you can grab it easily in an emergency.
5.) Now that you have taken great pains to secure yourself to the tree, make sure that you take just as much care in securing your firearm. Make sure that your firearm is secured to the tree with a strap or rope that is shorter than the distance between you and the ground. If your weapon falls from your grasp and hits the ground, the chances of it going off accidentally upon impact are too high to take lightly. An accidental firearm discharge is a danger to you and all who are around you. Secure yourself, your firearm and your future by taking these steps toward a happy and healthy hunt.