Outdoors - Tree-stand accidents on the rise, so be careful

November 05, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

Now that the various deer seasons are in full swing, hunters will be hearing more reports about the dangers associated with tree stands, and of hunters injured.

Tree-stand accidents have shown a steady increase over the past five to seven years as more and more hunters take to the trees for a number of reasons. In some states (parts of North Carolina, for example) hunters are required to hunt from an elevated stand as a safety precaution. The idea is that the angle of any shot will hopefully mean that stray bullets will be stopped by the dirt.

A study done on tree-stand accidents found the majority of accidents occur when climbing up to or down from the stand.

It is obviously most important to be particularly careful at these times. A climbing belt is highly recommended.

Ladders and tree steps should be positioned to allow you to climb higher than the stand and step over into the stand.


Most importantly, injuries suffered in tree-stand accidents are often severe. Falls often result in serious back, leg or spinal injuries, and each season, hunters around the country are killed.

The Treestand Manufacturers Association consists of a group of companies that has developed safety standards for commercial tree stands. They also are active in promoting tree stand safety awareness. If you have purchased a commercial tree stand, the odds are it has been certified by this organization.

The following is a list of tree stand safety tips from several sources, including the TMA, state agencies and bowhunting associations:

Wear a safety harness. Most experts now recommend wearing a full body harness. If you use a single belt, snug it under your arms and around your upper torso. A cinch-type belt around your midsection can be more dangerous than the fall.

Choose a tree that is straight and healthy, even if it may not be in the best possible place to see game.

Portable ladders are preferred to screw-in steps. Be sure to scrape away any loose or excess bark from tree before inserting screw-in steps. Insert screw-in steps only into the solid, live portion of wood of a tree. If a step is very easy to screw-in, it may also easily strip out when you step on it. Moderate physical exertion should be required to insert a screw-in step properly.

Climb up and remove small (and dead) branches to prepare your selected site for safe use of your stand.

Read and follow the instructions provided with commercial stands. Failure to do so could cause injury or death if improperly used, and could also negate any legal claims you may have against the manufacturer.

Never climb with your bow or rifle - always use a pull rope. Place the bow or gun on the ground on the backside of the tree before climbing and descending.

If using a climbing-style stand, tie both the climber and platform together to assure the platform cannot slip away out of your reach.

Use a TMA certified tree stand. The Treestand Manufacturers Association conducts independent testing and certification of stands manufactured by companies that belong to the association.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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