Courtesy of the Minnesota DNR
Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of injury to hunters. The following information will provide hunters with tips and information for safe tree stand hunting.
Types of tree stands
A description of some of the more well known types of tree stands includes:
• Fixed position stands – these stands are designed to be placed on a tree trunk and remain secured in that spot;
• Vertical ladder stands — this type of stand has a ladder that supports the shooting platform. The ladder is usually divided into short sections that can be assembled on site. The ladder “legs” extend at a slight angle out from the stand and tree trunk, and are secured to the trunk via supporting arms and belts;
• Climbing stands — the most popular stand type, the climber is designed to “walk” up a tree trunk with the hunter to a desired elevation; and
• Permanent stands – such stands may be placed in a tree or cluster of trees and left there. They are exposed to weather and may deteriorate. Never trust the safety of a permanent tree stand that was built previously by someone else.
• Always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system, when in a tree stand, as well as when climbing into or out of a tree stand;
• A safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent a fall from more than 12 inches;
• In the event of a fall, harnesses provide some “cushion,” generally about four inches, which is the result of the alternately tightening and slipping of the harness as well as the normal stretch of the material;
• Always inspect the safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use; and
• Follow all manufacturers’ instructions for use of a safety harness and stand.
Recovery from a fall
Preparation and prevention are the keys to safe tree stand use.
• In the event of a fall in a harness, try to recover as soon as possible. The longer one stays suspended from their harness, the harder it will be to recover from their fall;
• Seek suspension relief by grabbing onto the tree trunk or climbing steps;
• Take the weight off one’s harness as soon as possible;
• Once a hunter has a firm hold on the trunk or climbing steps, use the “3 point rule” to climb back into the stand or down from it; and
• Replace the harness with a new on in the event of a fall, especially if the tree tether was cut.
Three- point rule
Follow the “3 Point Rule” of tree stand safety. Always have three points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving. This could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving. Be cautious that rain, frost, ice or snow can cause steps to become extremely slippery. Check the security of the step before placing one’s weight on it.
Always use a haul line to pull up gear and unloaded firearm or bow to the tree stand. Hunters should never climb with anything in their hands or on their back. Before descending, hunters should lower equipment on the opposite side of the tree;
• Always select the proper tree for use with a tree stand. Select a live, straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in a tree stand’s instructions;
• Always hunt with a plan, and if possible, with a buddy. Let others know an exact hunting location, when the plan to return is and the name of any other hunters;
• Always carry emergency signal devices, such as a cell phone, whistle, walkie-talkie, signal flare and flashlight on at all times and within reach, even when suspended in the tree stand;
• The recommended height for an elevated tree stand is less than 10 feet above the ground;
• Hunters need to know their physical limitations and shouldn’t take chances; and • While climbing with a tree stand, make slow, even movements of no more than 10-12 inches at a time. Have proper contact with the tree and/or tree stand every time a movement is made and follow the three-point rule.