Treestand accidents account for over half of all hunting accidents in my home state of Illinois.

L.J. Smith spent many years studying the medical records surrounding treestand accidents.  He reached some common sense conclusions as to what hunters need to do in order to enjoy a safe hunt.

Read on before placing your treestands this summer.

Here are some of Smith’s conclusions and recommendations.

Most hunting accidents are preventable.  You need only to act in a responsible manner.  If you take the time to plan necessary precautions you will enjoy a safe day afield.

L.J. finds that one of the big mistakes people make is getting in a hurry.  They want to maximize the amount of time spent in place to take advantage of hunting time.  Being in a hurry they ignore safety which in turn leads to trouble.

One of the more common problems people in a hurry have is falling through the ladder and getting a leg caught.  It frequently leads to a broken leg.

A fatal mistake hunters can make comes from failure to wear a fall arrest system.  According to Smith, “If one wears a full body fall harness and maintains contact with the tree at all times he will not hit the ground.”  A person falling from 20 feet up a tree hits the ground at 25 miles per hour.

Another mistake is constructing a homemade wooden stand in a tree.  In Smith’s study approximately 50 percent of the accidents reported were from homemade tree stands.  This comes from rotten wood and nails that pull out of the tree.

Smith explains that the problem with home made stands comes where the legs contact the ground.  The moisture in the ground seeps up into the wood and speeds up the rot.  Using treated wood does not avoid this problem.  Wood treatments involve the outer part of the board more then the center.  Moisture seeps up the center part of the wood and rots it from the center out.

Smith feels a home made treestand should never be used.  He points out that modern treestands are available for nearly the same amount of money.  In addition a treestand that is TMA (Treestand Manufacturers Association) certified has been thoroughly tested for safety and durability in one of their testing centers.  The centers put stands though tough tests and reject any that do not meet the minimum safety standards.  Some 38 companies send their products to be tested.

Smith indicates that a treestand must be comfortable.  If it is not, you will not use it.  The ones on the market range from basic metal to panned ones that are very comfortable.  You can get as fancy as you prefer.

The same is true of the full body harness safety systems that come with the treestands or are available as an after market item.  They are in small, medium and large but are adjustable within those ranges.  Most have a weight certification marked on the unit.

Remember to be sure you are attached to the tree from the time your foot leaves the ground until you return.  Smith also wants you to have the tree strap above your head so that the life line attached to the harness is tight when you are seated.  One should just be able to feel a tug when seated.  When you stand it comes down to the middle of your back and not below the waist.  If you do fall out of the stand it will only be a fall of about a foot.

Smith suggests that new treestand owners take it out back and place it in a tree about 4 feet above the ground.  Then test the harness by falling out of it with the system attached and under the supervision of another person.  Hunters do not need to go out in the woods and fall out of a stand without knowing what to expect.

One case studied by Smith was of a hunter in that situation who panicked when he was unable to get back into his stand.  He unfastened the leg straps.  The harness rode up around his throat and suffocated him.

It is vital that one make sure the treestand is properly and securely installed.  Keep the harness system on while on the stand as well as while getting in and out.  Unloaded firearms and bows should be brought to the stand via a haul line.  They should not be in your possession while climbing in and out of the stand.

Keeping Smith’s research in mind may make your hunt this year, safe and secure.


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