Deer hunting is a popular event in Ontario. Whether using a bow, shotgun, or rifle, hunters will be out in force this autumn. Many hunters who take to the trees for deer season forget to consider their own safety when climbing into their stands. Hunting 20 feet off the ground provides great advantages, but hunters need to acknowledge the risks involved in tree stand hunting.
Thousands of hunters take a fall from their tree stands every year. Falling from a tree stand is one of the most reported hunting accidents each year. Many of those falls will result in serious injuries effectively ending a hunter’s season. So, stay safe while deer hunting with our five must-have items for tree stand safety.
Before taking a single step off the ground, make sure your harness is secure and comfortable. You’re going to be in the tree stand for hours at a time. A twisted or tight strap could become a dangerous distraction. However, just wearing the harness alone won’t help it protect you. To keep you safe, the harness needs to be attached to the tree.
A harness attaches to the tree a foot above where your head would be while standing in the stand. Always use a carabiner designed for climbing to secure yourself to the tree strap.
We recommend the Harness Pro from Altan outdoors. This quick setup safety harness comes with everything a hunter needs to stay safe in the trees including a lineman’s belt. Learn the basics of using a lineman’s belt by watching this great YouTube video by Summit Treestands.
Whenever you visit your tree stand, it’s important to make a proper safety check before climbing into the stand. Out in the woods, all sorts of things can happen that could make a tree stand unsafe - harsh weather can age the straps holding your stand to the tree, animals may gnaw on the cord. A replacement strap for your tree stand will ensure that you can get back to hunting and be safe while doing it.
We like the camo ratchet straps from Primegrip. Their rubber-coated low carbon steel hooks are durable enough to stand up to the rugged bush conditions.
The safest way to get your gear into or out of the tree is by using a haul rope. Hunters should never climb into a tree stand while wearing a pack or carrying a firearm. Bulky equipment can unbalance you. This could lead to a fall that could hurt you or damage your equipment. Remember to practice proper firearm safety
at all times. Ensure your gun is unloaded with the action open before hauling it up into the tree. Always check your rope for worn or frayed spots before using it to ferry equipment up the tree.
Dangling from a harness after falling from your tree stand is uncomfortable. If recovering your footing isn’t possible, it’s important to have a Plan B for getting down safely from the tree. A cellphone is a great resource, but sometimes getting a signal out in the bush is impossible.
Always make sure to tell someone where you will
be hunting and when to expect you back. Keep a flashlight or whistle in an accessible pocket to help your rescuer find you. This simple piece of gear can greatly speed up a rescue!
This survival whistle from Acme is perfect when out in the woods. With its bright colour, this whistle is hard to misplace.
A great alternative is a flashlight like the LED Lensor P3 AFS. This tiny flashlight packs a powerful punch.
With its advanced focusing system, this little flashlight acts more like a mini floodlight.
A moment’s inattention while climbing into your tree stand could have disastrous results, but even the most careful hunter’s foot can slip. Everything gets slippery when it’s wet from the ladder of the tree stand to the fallen leaves. The best way to prevent a slip is to wear the proper footwear. Non-slip or high traction soles can make climbing up into the stand just a little bit safer. While a harness will protect you from hitting the ground, it won’t prevent you from slipping in the first place. Good shoes can ensure that your harness remains just a precaution. Many tree stand accidents happen while a hunter is climbing into their stand. Remember, maintain three points of contact at all times as you climb into your stand.
Look for shoes with high traction soles like the Hovr Dawns from Under Armour. These boots were made for endless hours in the bush.
A harness may not be the coolest looking piece of equipment and carrying a bit of extra gear into your tree stand might seem like too much extra work. However, you can’t take down that ten-point buck if you’re stuck at home out of commission after slipping, tripping, or falling from your tree stand.