20-point Tree Stand

 Safety Checklist

We have developed a 20 point checklist that will minimize the risks and dangers of hunting from tree stands:
1.  Use a strong, safe, sturdy tree stand. Tree stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association [TMA] are commercially designed and tested to meet high standards

2.  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. Carry out the practice sessions in the presence of a responsible adult

3.  Check you 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 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 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.  Permanent tree stands 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. Steps and stand surfaces can be covered with a non-slip coating to help prevent slips

7.  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 the tree for bee or wasp nests or animal dens

9.   Avoid using climbing stands on smooth barked trees when the bark is frozen or wet

10. At the base of a tree stand, remove all rocks, logs, and fallen or trimmed limbs to minimize injury from a fall

11. 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. Always use a fall restraint device, preferably a full body harness once your feet leave the ground, and maintain a short safety tether line [line connecting your harness to the tree] 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. 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. 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. 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 broadheads are covered prior to raising or lowering a bow with a haul line

16. 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. 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. Don’t wear rings when climbing as they can catch on equipment or limbs

19. Use extra caution if it is cold, there is high wind, snow or ice, lightning or low/no light

20. Don’t consume alcohol or drugs prior to or during a hunt, or fall asleep while sitting in the stand

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