At Huntertreestands.com we believe a fun and successful hunt is crucial, but more importantly is the safety of our hunters. So we have developed this 20 point checklist that will minimize the risks and dangers of hunting from above:
1. Use a strong, safe, sturdy tree stand.
Tree stands certified by the Tree stand Manufacturers Association [TMA] are commercially designed and tested to meet high standards
2. Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions
Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions on the use of your tree stand before using it. Practice using the tree stand during both the day and night before taking it hunting, as you may end up hanging it or taking it down in the dark. Practice at ground level and then progressively increase the height with the same equipment on that you will take hunting. Practice climbing into and out of your stand.
3. Check your tree stand before every use
Check your tree stand for wear, rust, metal fatigue and cracks, loose or missing nuts or bolts, rot and deterioration before use. Tighten loose nuts and bolts and replace rusty or worn hardware. Check straps or chains for wear and replace if necessary
4. Tell people your going hunting
Ever seen the movie 127 hours? Don't end up like that guy. Tell a reliable person where you are going hunting and when you expect to return. Give them a map or leave one in your truck or at camp so they can find you if you don't return. Give this person instructions on what to do if you do not return at the designated time
5. Carry support items
Carry a whistle in your pocket or around your neck so you can use it if you find yourself hanging from a tree by your harness, cellular phone, flashlight and first aid kit with you
6. Just like # 3 check your stand before use
Its so important we made it two points on our checklist. Permanent tree stands especially weaken with age, nails rust and work loose, and wood rots, so check them out during a pre-season scouting trip to make sure they are still safe to use. Also check the steps as you will probably be climbing them in the dark and sometimes in bad weather.
7. Healthy trees, no disease
Only choose healthy trees that show no disease when using a tree stand. Don't use rotten or dead trees, or trees with dead limbs or trees with a lot of loose bark, or leaning trees. Ensure the tree is not too small or too big for your tree stand to fit safely
8. Check Your Tree
Check the tree for bee or wasp nests or animal dens
9. Smooth tree can be dangerous
Avoid using climbing stands on smooth barked trees when the bark is frozen or wet
10. Make a safe landing
Especially if you didn't follow proper tree stand safety by using a safety harness. Make sure at the base of a tree stand to remove all rocks, logs, and fallen or trimmed limbs to minimize injury from a fall. Because sometimes its not the fall that severely injures you.
11. Proper equipment for a proper hunt
Use boots with non-skid soles to minimize slipping on steps, especially in bad weather. Rubber boots are especially slippery on wet wood or bark, particularly in snow or ice or when boots are muddy
12. Use a Harness!
Always use a fall restraint device, preferably a full body harness once your feet leave the ground, and maintain a short safety tether line which is the line connecting your harness to the tree in order to minimize the distance you will fall before you are restrained by the tether line this includes while you are sitting in your stand. Make sure you are familiar with the manufacturer's instructions for your fall restraint device, and have practiced hanging in it, and recovering from the suspension, before using it for hunting
13. Be Careful with tree pegs
If using tree pegs, scrape away any thick bark and screw the peg into live wood; never reuse old peg holes. Don't leave them in the tree from one year to the next as the steps can crack or weaken, and the wood around them can rot, causing them to pull out when weight is placed on them
14. Special care with weapons
Never carry rifles or bow while climbing the tree. Use a haul line to lift them and other gear up once you are in the stand
15. Again, special care with weapons
Make sure firearms are unloaded before attaching to a haul line, and don't attach the haul line near the trigger or trigger guard. Make sure broad heads are covered prior to raising or lowering a bow with a haul line
16. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
When climbing, don't put all of your weight on one limb. Always have at least one hand and foot secure before reaching for that next branch or foothold. Limbs can be more brittle in cold weather and break more easily
17. Up and up you go!
Climb higher than the stand and then step down onto it. You may dislodge it if you try to climb up into it. Slowly put your weight onto your stand to be sure of your balance
18. Leave the rings at home
Don't wear rings when climbing as they can catch on equipment or limbs
19. Check the weather and use caution
Use extra caution if it is cold, there is high wind, snow or ice, lightning or low/no light
20. No drinking or drugs on a hunt
Don't consume alcohol or drugs prior to or during a hunt, or fall asleep while sitting in the stand. Celebrate after you get the kill, not before.