Tree-stand use is popular with hunters during deer season. However, with falls or other incidents accounting for almost half of all hunting incidents, improper or unsafe use of a tree stand can cause a hunter to become a hunting-incident statistic. So, be smart and be safe when using a tree stand.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division suggests that hunters should note that not every tree stand is the same and that they should be familiar with their particular model’s features.
Following are recommended safety tips:
• When using a non-climbing portable or ladder stand, hunters should securely fasten the stand to the tree and install ladders or steps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
• Hunters should always wear a fall-arrest system or full-body harness during ascent and descent. Be aware that single-strap belts and chest harnesses no longer are recommended and should not be used. Failure to use a fall-arrest system could result in serious injury or death.
• Hunters should always attach their fall-arrest system in the manner described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into the tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with full-body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness also may be fatal.
• Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cellphones or signal devices that may be reached easily and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have an alternate plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension-relief device.
• Consider your personal physical condition before going out. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape from a fall-arrest system, it is recommended that you hunt only from the ground.
• Hunters should always use a haul line to pull their gear and unloaded firearm or bow into their tree stand. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower equipment to the ground on the opposite side of the tree.
• Staying awake and alert is important. Hunters should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness prior to hunting. Also, never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
• Hunters always should inform someone of where they are hunting and what time they expect to return.
For more information on tree stands or hunting-related safety, call 770-761-3010 or visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/education.