Though commonly used by deer hunters everywhere, tree stands often are improperly installed. As a result, they are considered the leading cause of hunting-related incidents, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
Not every tree stand is the same. Hunters should be familiar with their particular model’s features. Following are recommended safety tips:
When using a non-climbing portable or ladder stand, hunters should securely fasten the stand to the tree and install ladders or steps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Hunters should ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer recommended and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
Hunters should ALWAYS attach their FAS in the manner described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into the tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with full body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may also be fatal.
Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have an alternate plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device.
Consider your personal physical condition before going out. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape from a FAS, it is recommended that you hunt only from the ground.
Hunters should ALWAYS use a haul line to pull their gear and unloaded firearm or bow into their tree stand. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower equipment to the ground on the opposite side of the tree.
Staying awake and alert is important. Hunters should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness prior to hunting. Also, never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
Hunters should always inform someone of where they are hunting and what time they expect to return.
For more information on tree stands or hunting-related safety, call 770-761-3010 or visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/education.