DNR conservation officers emphasize tree-stand safety as hunters gear up for fall

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Hunting from a tree stand is a popular way for hunters to enjoy their season, but nearly every year a Michigan hunter is seriously injured or killed falling out of a tree stand. Conservation officers at the Department of Natural Resources remind hunters of the top safety tips when it comes to tree stands.

Before a hunt, know your equipment:

  • Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using a tree stand and harness.
  • Check the stand, straps and chains before you go out for signs of wear and tear or missing parts.
  • Practice at ground level with your tree stand and harness with a friend or family member.
  • Learn how to properly use your harness. The DNR recommends a full-body harness.
  • Waist belts or upper body-only harnesses can cause serious injuries or death in a fall.

When scouting for a tree:

  • Choose a healthy, straight tree that is the right size to hold you and your stand.
  • Check the tree beforehand for insect nests or animal dens.
  • Avoid using climbing stands on smooth-barked trees, especially during icy or wet weather.
  • Clear debris from the base of the tree to minimize injury from a fall and to ensure a sturdy base if using a ladder stand.

During your hunt:

  • Tell a reliable person where you are hunting and when you can be expected to return.
  • Wear a full-body harness and make sure it is connected to the tree at all times. If using a ladder stand or climbing sticks, attach the harness before securing the platform to the tree or stepping onto it.
  • Climb higher than your stand and always step down onto your platform.
  • Wear boots with non-slip soles.
  • Never carry equipment when climbing – use a haul line to raise and lower equipment, unloaded firearm or bow. Do not attach the line near the trigger or trigger guard of your firearm.
  • Have emergency equipment – a knife, cellphone, flashlight and/or whistle.

For more information about tree stand safety, go to the Treestand Manufacturers Association website at www.tmastands.com. For more information about hunting in Michigan, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/hunting.