Tree Stand Safety Tips – 2021 Explained

Jeff
| Last Updated May 31, 2021

It would be best to choose a tree stand that suits your ability as much as your hunting style.

There are three types of tree stands—climbers, ladder-style, and hang-on

Depending on the hunting you are doing through the season, your choice of tree stand should include a level of comfort and functionality.

Photo credit: bowhunter.com

Tips to Stay Safe in Your Tree Stand

Your safety must take precedence over all else when hunting. Details like letting a friend know about your location and checking the weather forecast can help you avoid a crisis.  We’ve compiled a list of some topics that can impact safety and help keep your hunting gear in the best condition.

  • Always Use a Safety Harness

  • Inspect Your Stand and Harness Every Time

  • Share Your Location With a Buddy

  • Always Climb Without Your Gear

  • Three Points of Contact

  • Use a Strong, Healthy Tree

  • Wear Boots with Non-Skid Soles

  • Read Your Manual

  • Slow and Steady Movements

  • Be Prepared In Case of a Fall

Photo credit: comfortworkboots.com

Safety Tips For Tree Stands

The list above is expounded on briefly below. We’ll discuss the general description of each of these points, their benefits and drawbacks, and what type of tree stand would best suit different hunters.

Always Use a Safety Harness

A safety harness is a piece of tree climbing gear that you strap onto your body. The harness's purpose is to safely attach you to the tree you are about to ascend as you set up your tree stand. 

Safety harnesses distribute the pressure through your body in the event of a fall. Your full-body harness fixes around your thighs and chest. It’s included with your tree stand purchase.

Advantages

  • When you're scaling a tree to fix your stand, the harness acts as an additional security layer. Should you lose footing at any point, the harness will stop your fall.

Photo credit: archery360.com

  • The harness frees both your hands to tend to additional tasks while climbing.

  • Allows additional storage space. 

Disadvantages

  • You must attach your tether by rope to the tree.  The tether is then fixed to your harness, meaning you need to adjust it constantly as you ascend, making the process cumbersome.

  •  Constantly readjusting the lineman's rope increases your tree stand set-up time.

  • Safety harnesses perish over time and must be replaced—adding to the cost of the product.

Best For

Safety harnesses are used by arborists and hunters for similar reasons—staying alive in an unexpected fall or equipment failure. Tethering yourself to the tree essentially acts as a safety net should inclement weather conditions or a lapse in concentration occur.  
Your safety harness acts as a lifeline by restraining and arresting a potential fall. It also assists with additional carry-on space. Every hunter preparing a tree stand needs a safety harness, which is why they are included when you purchase your tree stand—no matter the stand type.

Inspect Your Stand and Harness Every Time

The key to an enjoyable hunting season lies in your preparation. Your gear must be in top condition. There are specific items on your harness and stand that you should be checking every time you use them. In particular, you should be inspecting all metal items on your harness and tree stand—they should be free from rust, excessive wear, cracking, and discoloration.

All software (material strapping) must be examined for signs of fraying, cuts, and sagging. Holding the harness up by the shoulders is an excellent way to look for imbalances in strapping. Make adjustments accordingly or replace worn equipment. 

Advantages

  • Your peace of mind is assured when you inspect your harness or if there are any adjustments needed.

  • Inspecting your harness before and after each use ensures that it is in the best possible condition when making your ascent.

  • Inspecting your harness often also helps you decide if your harness is best suited to you or if you need more comfort.

Photo credit: deerassociation.com

Disadvantages

  • The only disadvantage of assessing your harness is that it may take 5-10 minutes of your time. If you cannot check your safety harness before and after uses, we recommend that you not ascend the tree.

  • Failing to inspect your safety harness could result in a fatal fall.

  • Discoloration is difficult to see with the naked eye and can result in equipment failure.

Best For

Safety harnesses are used by arborists and hunters for similar reasons - staying alive in the event of an unexpected fall or equipment failure. Tethering yourself to the tree essentially acts as a safety net should inclement weather conditions or a lapse in concentration occur. 

Your safety harness acts as a lifeline by restraining you and arresting a potential fall. It also assists with additional carry-on space. Every hunter preparing a tree stand needs a safety harness, which is why they are included when you purchase your tree stand—no matter the stand type.

Share Your Location With a Buddy

According to the International Hunting Education Association, one in every three hunters who use a tree stand will experience a fall at some point in their hunting career. This point illustrates the need to let someone know your location when hunting. 

When a fall happens, the last thing you want is to be so camouflaged that a friend wouldn't find you. When setting off to your tree stand location, ensure that you communicate your location to a buddy and fellow hunters. 

Photo credit: bonecollector.com

Advantages

  • Communication keeps other hunters in your vicinity aware of your location.

  • Should you be rendered unconscious by the fall, you will be found.

  • Professional medical assistance can be speedily provided if they know your location.

Disadvantages

  • Not informing a friend of your whereabouts could result in a delay in medical attention being provided should it be warranted.

  • Other hunters may mistake you for a tree-dwelling animal.

  • Communication devices must be at hand adding to the weight on the stand.

Best For

When open season presents itself, there will be a natural influx of budding and experienced players on the field. Newcomers must practice high levels of safety and maturity when hunting. Falls happen to experienced hunters, too, and serve as a warning to budding marksmen and markswomen.

Always Climb Without Your Gear 

After you've inspected your safety harness and informed a buddy of your location, you can begin your climb. When starting your ascent, it is best practice to leave your equipment on the ground. This is because the additional weight and other items may hamper your trek. 

Additionally, the extra weight may cause you or your stand to dislodge from the tree. As a rule of thumb, you should attach a rope to your gear, and once seated in your stand, you can pull up your paraphernalia.

Advantages

  • Reduces the carrying weight you have to pull up the tree.

  • Fewer items being carried up the tree means you can focus on your climb and other variables.

  • Allows you to concentrate on getting to your stand without the distraction of gear flailing around below you.

Photo credit: hawkhunting.com

Disadvantages

  • Your tools could be caught amongst other gear causing unnecessary issues.

  • There is a possibility of the additional weight causing your tree stand to become unfixed from the tree.

  • Additional trips down the stand are required should you forget any equipment.

Best For

Attempting to climb a tree for any reason requires caution and dedication to safety principles. Climbing belts, hitches, carabiners, and even safety lines can cause fatal complications when a bow or firearm unintentionally gets caught in other gear. 

Your climbing proficiency will dictate how much equipment you can carry up the tree with you. A disciplined hunter always reduces the chance of failure, and anything to make your climb up the tree easier is a step in the right direction.

Three Points of Contact

As a general rule of thumb, having three contact points when climbing a tree ensures that you have as much contact with the tree as possible. Before ropes and other climbing safety equipment were available, this rule kept many ladder and tree climbers safe. 

The general idea is that at any time, you must have either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand in contact with the tree. This rule makes sure that your movements are slow and steady. 

Advantages

  • Ensures that your climb is deliberate and steady with minimal distractions.

  • The labored pace of ascent allows you to inspect branches, trunk issues, and other items on the way up.

  • The additional time also gives you a chance to scope out other vantage points.

Disadvantages

  • Making your way up the tree is labored and can frustrate newbies.

  • This is a learned skill and proper technique training is necessary.

  • This technique is noisy and can deter animals in your area.

Best For

Every person attempting to ascend a tree for any recreational reason should adhere to this philosophy. By keeping three points of contact, you limit the amount of movement away from the tree as much as you can. It also keeps your body in an upright position as you make your way up the tree, eliminating as much space between you and the tree as possible.

Use a Strong, Healthy Tree

The tree you select to set up your tree stand is as important as the apparatus used to scale the tree itself. There are several factors to consider when choosing the tree, or trees, for your season. The main items to check on the tree are canopy and leaf health, root system integrity, nesting birds/animals, and trunk integrity. 

The tree should be without any trunk cavities or decay, leaves, and the canopy should be vibrant. Check the ground at the base to assess the root system - it should not be excessively exposed. 

Advantages

  • Using a sturdy tree ensures no surprises when ascending, like pieces of the tree falling off. 

  • Climbing gear can safely attach your equipment to the tree without it coming loose.

  • Healthy trees are able to recover should bark be damaged by the stand.

Disadvantages

  • The process can be time-consuming for newcomers.

  • In some cases, a professional may need to confirm the tree is safe to climb.

  • Setting up against a damaged or dead tree could result in a fatal fall.

Best For

Novices and experienced hunters alike know that the tree you're perched on must be structurally sound. If any aspect of the tree warrants suspicion, you should select another tree in the area. Compare your tree to others in the area to get a good idea of the tree's health.

Wear Boots with Non-Slip Soles

Traction, when climbing a tree, is a premium resource. Slip-resistant boots stabilize you against the tree while climbing. Using incorrect footwear with bulky heels and heavy soles requires more energy from you when lugging them up the tree. 

As we have mentioned with leaving your gear on the ground when climbing, additional weight fatigues the climber. Nowadays, there are many ranges of boots to choose from, including a range specifically designed for climbers. Finding the right pair of climbing boots is essential for the discerning hunter as these will assist when chasing down your prey.

Advantages

  • A good quality climbing boot provides ample grip against the trunk so you can climb freely.
  • Additional traction means that slipping is an afterthought.
  • Traction means climbing time is decreased.

Disadvantages

  • Non-slip boots can be costly for the newcomer.

  • They will take time to wear in for optimal performance.

  • Excessive grip may damage the bark of trees when descending or ascending.

Photo credit: rangermade.com

Best For

Both newbies and masters of tree stand hunting would require a strong pair of climbing boots. They offer apparent protection from losing grip while climbing and are also waterproof, making them ideal for use in wet conditions.

Read Your Manual

Reading your tree stand's manual will ensure that you have all the relevant information about your tree stand. Your manual will detail specifications relating to maximum carrying weight, usage instructions, safety tips, and related industry-regulatory bodies. These details take precedence when using your tree stand. Your operating manual provides valuable tips for climbing and setting up your tree stand. 

Advantages

  • Acquire in-depth knowledge of the true capabilities of your harness and tree stand.

  • Your manual will detail a recommended usage policy.

  • Your warranty card, included in the safety manual, is for ease of reference should you need to replace it.

Disadvantages

  • Usage manuals require attention to detail, which can be time-intensive.

  • Often instruction manuals are difficult to understand.

  • Manuals can be many pages of finely printed text which can be a strain to read.

Photo credit: flipoutdoor.com

Best For

When climbing a tree for recreation or sport, you need to know your equipment's appropriate loads and applications. Reading your manual is a non-negotiable point because your safety will hinge on how you apply the equipment to assist your climb.

Slow and Steady Movements

The rule of three points of contact when ascending a tree will slow your pace. We found that deliberate movements with a steady pace provide ample time to assess your climbing path. When making movements up the tree, check for spots that may present issues with your ropes, such as branch stubs and decaying bark. Preparing the best path up the tree will make your climb less troublesome. 

Advantages

  • Taking your time up the tree means you use less energy.

  • You can readjust any equipment you think requires fine-tuning.

  • Taking your time means you can assess the immediate area for trails and clearings.

Disadvantages

  • The process is time-intensive.

  • Slow movements increase the time to get to the seat to take your shot.

  • Taking too long descending the stand means your target can dash off before you get to the ground.

Best For

Photo credit: outdoorlife.com

When climbing a tree for recreation or sport, you need to know your equipment's appropriate loads and applications. Reading your manual is a non-negotiable point because your safety will hinge on how you apply the equipment to assist your climb.

Be Prepared in Case of a Fall

Nobody ever expects to fall from their tree stand, but preparing for a fall could be the difference between a slight drop and a fatal collapse. In the Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, a survey concluded that a third of tree stand falls have happened from their stand. 3% of these falls have resulted in crippling injuries. Keeping a mobile phone with you to alert a friend is a mature decision. 

Advantages

  • Being prepared is a life-saving task.

  • Preparation means you know the capabilities of your equipment.

  • Preparation for a worst-case scenario means that you’ll gain experience by climbing more often.

Disadvantages

  • Failing to prepare for a fall could result in severe injury or death. 

  • Loss of your life impacts your family and friends.

  • Serious injury to you increases the statistical rate of injury negatively impacting the sport.

Best For

Every single climber must prepare for a fall. A safety harness is a prerequisite for anyone planning to ascend a tree. Remember to stay calm. Next, assess your situation and try to signal for help. If you're hunting alone, make a call to 911 or yell and whistle for help.

Make your way to the stand if you can and check for injuries. If you can't get to your platform, use your suspension-relief strap to relieve pressure from your thighs by standing up in it.

Photo credit: dnr.sc.gov

How to Safely Hang a Tree Stand

Tree stands are not complicated and hanging one is more about preparation and finding the right spot in a tree. Safety is of the utmost importance when setting up a tree stand. You will need a few items. We will take you through fixing your stand to the tree and the essential prerequisites.

  • Firstly, you will need additional safety gear over and above a complete safety harness with a lineman's belt.

  • The ascender will need a set of pruning shears, additional lengths of rope, and trail markers if small branches get in the way of your tree stand. This equipment applies to all types of tree stands.

  • If you're using a hang-on tree stand or ladder tree stand, your first step will require setting your ladder against the tree. Ladders must be assembled on the ground and then hoisted and anchored to the trunk. 

  • Attach an anchor line to the tree, and tie this to the ladder. 

  • You can now place your ladder up against the tree. 

  • An additional rope secures it to the bottom of the ladder for stability. 

  • Before going up your ladder, you must attach an anchor rope from the tree to your safety harness. An anchor is vital and without it, serious injury or death may occur.

  • Climbing tree stands don't need steps because they shimmy up the tree with you in the harness as you ascend the tree trunk.

  • Once at the desired height, you can fix your stand to the trunk. It is good practice to place the platform first and then lean on it, so it grips the trunk and does not move. 

  • You can now descend the tree or hoist other equipment up to you in the stand to start hunting.

Please feel free to watch this video for further details. 

Conclusion

A tree stand is an excellent piece of hunting equipment that helps with hunting from a higher vantage point. Hunting from elevated positions is dangerous and can result in fatal injuries. Safety and communication are vital for successful hunting. Always use a safety harness and check for inclement weather conditions. 

People Also Ask

Safety requirements will continually be updated so that the risks of hunting are as low as possible. Newcomers and mature hunters alike always ask questions to understand their hunting grounds and equipment better. We have listed a few questions to outline safety concerning tree stands and their use.

Can You Leave a Tree Stand Up All Year?

No. Always follow the user manual guidelines. Stands must not be up for more than 14 days to avoid UV exposure, weakening, and oxidation on metal stands. Rain, humidity, and windy conditions could reduce the contact between stand and tree, resulting in severe injury or death.

Photo credit: realtree.com

What Are the 3 R's Of Tree Stand Safety?

The 3 R's of tree stand safety are Rescue, Relief, and Recovery. 

Are Tree Stands Safe?

Hunting in itself is not safe, but there are many measures one can implement to mitigate most of the risks associated with hunting from an elevated position. Continuously checking your equipment and using a safety harness are the best ways to arrest a fall.

What Type of Tree Stand Should You Avoid Using?

All tree stands will present a level of risk that you must rationalize. Adhering to the safety guide will put you in good stead. Avoid using a stand that is either too large or small for you. Ensure you always have your harness attached to the tree.

How Do You Keep a Tree Stand Dry?

Unexpected rain or humidity could cause rust to form on metallic stands and also causes slippage with non-metallic stands. A simple solution is an umbrella left open in the stand but fixed, so it doesn't fly away. A tarp is another option.

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.