Treestand safety

It's the time of year to think about tree stand safety.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife

The first deer season of the year will kick off next Wednesday (Sept. 27), with the Northern Zone bow season. Most hunters have put their tree stands up, and will be headed into them as they scout and look to arrow a buck starting next week.

We have had a few tragedies around here over the years involving hunters falling from tree stands, and it should be clear to anyone who climbs a stand that a fall from that height can cause serious injury or worse.

There are a number of important tips to remember for those who are new to the tree stand world. The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife issued a nice, concise set of recommendations the other day:

Tree stands get hunters out of sight and smell of wary deer, but they can also get hunters into trouble.  Here are some tips from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to help stay safe and get the most out of your tree stand hunting experience:

  • Choose a live, straight tree.
  • Buy smart.   Only use stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA).
  • Inspect them each time you use them.  
  • Know the rules. On state lands, it is illegal to place nails or other hardware into trees or to build permanent structures.  On private lands, you must have landowner permission to erect a tree stand, cut or remove trees or other plants, or to cut limbs.  All stands, including ground blinds, must be marked with the owner’s name and address.
  • Always wear a full-body safety harness, even for climbing. Most falls occur going up and down the tree and getting in and out of the stand.
  • Don't go too high. The higher you go, the vital zone on a deer decreases, while the likelihood of a serious injury increases.
  • Never carry firearms or bows up and down trees.  Always use a haul line to raise and lower all gear.  Make sure your firearm is unloaded.
  • Familiarize yourself with your gear before you go.  The morning of opening day is a poor time to put your safety belt on for the first time.
  •  Be careful with long-term placement. Exposure can damage straps, ropes and attachment cords. Also, the stand’s stability can be compromised over time, as the tree grows.

-- Don Lehman

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Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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