Hunt successfully from your tree stand and avoid accidents with these safety tips. Too many hunters wait until after a climbing accident to pay close attention to safety. For some, this second chance never comes, due to injury or even death. Take your life--and the hunt--seriously by preventing an accident before it happens.
One of the first considerations for using a tree stand safely is to choose a sturdy, well-manufactured stand. Your tree stand should come with a warranty. If the company does not back their product with a warranty, don't expect a quality product from them.
Besides quality, design is also an important issue. Tree stands differ in safety according to their design. Hang on tree stands require you to set up the platform while you're balanced on a ladder. They also require you to climb up on steps or a ladder and then step from the ladder onto the platform. Climbing into and out of hang on stands is the point where most hunting stand accidents happen. Self-climbing stands, on the other hand, attach to the tree at the base and allow you to climb the tree in a sit down, stand up motion. This means you avoid the risk involved in stepping onto a platform or setting up your stand while you're suspended in the air. The fact that you are already in your tree stand as you climb gives it an edge over the hang on, in terms of safety.
Another safety factor is how you handle your firearm. You should never carry it up with you as you climb. Instead, use a haul line to lift and lower your firearm. Unload the gun and leave the action open. Don't take any chances. If your gun already has a sling, you can tie a hoist rope to the sling to haul up your gun. For a makeshift sling, tie a short rope around the "wrist" of the stock and attach the other end to the barrel, just above the forearm stock. Tie the hoist rope to the center of your sling so that the barrel is horizontal--not pointing up--as you lift the gun. Tie the hoist rope to the back of your belt and climb up the tree. When you're secure in your tree stand, use the hoist rope to haul up your firearm. Check your firearm for obstructions before loading. To lower the gun or bow back down, unload your gun and open the action. Attach the hoist rope and lower the gun gently to the ground. If you hunt with a bow, use the same method to lift and lower your bow.
Last but not least, don't forget to wear your harness. A full body harness is much safer than a belt harness. Should you fall from your hunting stand, a full body harness will distribute pressure between several different points on the body rather than one point. This increases your comfort and your survival time.