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.