#06-330 December 4, 2006
Tree stand safety: a hunter’s priority
Hunters should make safety their first priority when using tree stands. When used properly and with safety in mind, tree stands can provide the “edge” deer hunters need for a successful hunt. Too many times, however, tree stands can become dangerous and deadly for experienced and inexperienced hunters alike. With common sense and an awareness of potential hazards, tree stand users can provide a safe and enjoyable experience.
“Each year in South Carolina deer hunters are injured, some fatally, due to improper or careless tree stand use,” said Lt. Jim Wagers, hunter education coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Enjoy your time in the field, so make sure to inspect your equipment,” added Wagers.”
Of tree stands on the market today, none are 100 percent foolproof. The DNR offers the following tips for a successful and safe tree stand deer hunt:
- Purchase a tree stand from a reputable manufacturer whose stands have an outstanding safety record.
- Make sure your climbing tree stand is angled into the tree when you first attach it to the trunk. Then, as you climb up the tapering trunk, the platform will level out and hold stable against the tree. Always wear a climbing rope or strap while ascending or descending.
- Wear a safety harness to prevent you from falling out of the tree stand if you should fall asleep or lean out to make a difficult shot.
- Buy a climbing tree stand with a shooting bar all the way around the platform if you have a tendency to fall asleep while hunting.
- If you use tree steps to get to and from the stand, be sure each step is securely attached to the tree and all the way in before you begin to climb. Also, use a safety rope around the tree you climb.
- Use a rope to raise and lower your unloaded gun or bow and arrows up the stand. Never carry your gun, bow or heavy load into or out of the tree stand. Pull them up once your stand is secure.
- Unload your gun before pulling it up to, or lowering it from, the tree stand.
- Make sure your tree stand is firmly attached to the tree before you walk out on the end of the stand or stand on either side of the platform.
- Test your stand prior to the beginning of the hunting season. Attach it to a tree and climb up or down the tree with it before actually taking it to the woods for a hunt. Be aware of any peculiarities the stand may have and adjust accordingly.
- Never put more than one person in your stand at a time unless a stand is specifically designed by the manufacturer to hold more than one person.
- Never trust a permanent tree stand that was previously built by another person. Inspect all wooden parts, nuts and bolts for stability prior to every deer season.
- Step down onto the stand from above while securely holding onto the tree. If the stand falls away, you are less likely to go with it.
- Always tell someone where you are hunting, where your tree stand is located and when you plan to return home.
- Do not build or position a tree stand higher than 15 feet above the ground. To get higher is difficult, hazardous and unnecessary.
In addition to these tree stand safety recommendations always wear a visible hat, vest or coat of international orange while deer hunting. The use of international orange is required on all Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lands during the gun and muzzleloader hunting seasons for deer and hogs. All hunters must wear either a hat, coat, or vest of solid visible international orange, except hunters for dove and duck are exempt from this requirement while hunting those species.
Call the DNR hunter and boater education office in Columbia at (803) 734-3995 for information on DNR hunter education courses.