Merely climbing into or out of a tree stand or other elevated platform to hunt puts you at risk. Long hours spent waiting in a stand, as well as poor hunting techniques, can lead to accidental falls. To protect yourself, use good judgment and follow these recommendations, always putting safety first.
- Purchase a commercial stand that is manufactured, certified, or tested to industry standards.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and watch the video that accompany the stand. Review this information each season before using the stand.
- Contact the manufacturer if the instructions are missing or confusing.
- Share the information with anyone else who uses your stand.
- Always use a fall-arrest system (FAS) that is manufactured to industry standards and includes a full-body harness. Attach your FAS to the tree while at ground level, and keep it attached throughout your hunt—from the time you leave the ground until you get back down.
- Use a tree stand only during daylight hours.
- Practice first with your tree stand and FAS at ground level, using all safety devices that were included with the stand. Then continue to practice, gradually going higher. Practice shooting from your stand while wearing your FAS.
- Get enough sleep to ensure that you are well rested before using a tree stand.
- Carry a signaling device, such as a whistle, cell phone, two-way radio, or personal locator beacon (PLB), to let others know if you have a problem.
- Take your time and plan every move you make while installing and using an elevated stand.
- Check your stand carefully prior to each use. Do not leave a stand attached to a tree for more than two weeks.
- Never exceed the weight limit of your stand or FAS. Remember that the weight includes you plus your equipment.
- Do not climb with anything in your hands or on your back.
- Use a haul line.
- Raise and lower all hunting equipment on the opposite side of the tree from your climbing route.
Fall-Arrest System Components
Always use a properly fitting FAS that includes a full-body harness while climbing a tree, installing a tree stand that uses climbing aids, and hunting from a tree stand. (When using a ladder stand, attach your FAS to the tree and tighten the tether as soon as you reach the top of the ladder.) Make sure your FAS includes these components:
- A full-body harness—can be the vest style of full-body harness
- A lineman’s-style belt—used when climbing up and down the tree
- Tree strap—goes around the tree
- Tether—attaches the harness to the tree strap
- A suspension relief strap—provides a loop to stand in if you fall
Single-strap belts and chest harnesses are not manufactured to industry standards and are not recommended for use.