Thankful Outdoors: The Importance of Tree Stand Safety

Safety First – wear your harness when in a tree!

MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – I made a trip into the woods to help Dad get a few stands placed in his woods. It was nice to see all my brothers and Dad together. It’s one of the many things I enjoy about hunting; it pulls the entire family together.

Many of you are probably doing the same things right now, climbing around in trees getting your stands ready for the upcoming hunting seasons. Did you know that statistics say that one in every three hunters who hunt from a tree stand will fall from a tree stand in their lifetime?

Technology in today’s automobiles has built-in features to remind us to buckle up. That little alarm that goes off when we forget to buckle up has been called annoying, but it has saved lives. The tree stands you purchase do not have features to remind you to use a safety harness when you buy that tree stand. I’m sure that none of us want an alarm going off every time we attach a treestand to a tree, reminding us to put on a harness before climbing!

Scott poses with his harness attached ready for a day of hunting.

The reminder that we have to wear a harness is your responsibility. In our hunting group, you will hear us say to each other, do you you have your harness as we wish each other good luck on the way to the stand. It’s a quick way to remind the group that safety in the tree is important. We all want to see each other back in camp safely.

As hunters, we spend hours reading and educating ourselves about deer patterns, the best times to hunt, and tactics for filling our tags. One often overlooked item in preparing ourselves for the hunt is the proper use of a safety harness. The use of a treestand here in Wisconsin is a relatively new method of pursuing deer. Before 1971 it was not legal to hunt deer from a tree.

In 1995 the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) created standards for treestand and safety harness companies. There are 11 standards that manufacturers submit their products through to be TMA certified. One of the 11 standards is specific to the treestand fall arrest system.

Here are  eight tips on how to stay safe this season when climbing into that tree:

  1. Wear your harness:

It all starts right here; put your harness on before your foot ever leaves the ground. Do not wait to put the harness on while in the tree.

  1. Start with a strong foundation:

Don’t be hanging your stands in dead trees; it can be challenging to determine this when the leaves are all off.

  1. Familiarize yourself with your equipment:

Opening morning at the base of the tree is not the time to figure out how to properly fit your harness or to learn how your treestand operates. Take these things out in the yard and practice with them. Messing around with the gear in the dark is not the time to figure out things work.

  1. Be connected at all times:

Do not wait to secure yourself until you are actually in the treestand. It is reported that over 75% of accidents occur while climbing into the stand or out of the stand. Essential to remain connected at all times!

  1. Step Easy:

Keep your spacing between your steps at a comfortable distance. Remember that if you hung your stand earlier in the year and wore light clothing, it will be different climbing into that tree with heavy boots and insulated clothing. Your last step should be at a distance where you can be comfortable stepping over and back onto the stand. You do not want to reach or climb into your stand.

Scott carries his stand out to the woods to prep for the fall bow hunting season.
  1. Use a pull rope:

Do not carry firearms or bows up and down trees. Make sure your gun is unloaded. Always use a pull rope to raise and lower all gear.

  1. Have a Plan:

If a fall should happen, what is your plan to self-recover yourself from your harness? Some essential tools to have available for your recovery plan are a cellphone or other communication devices like a CB radio, a knife to cut the harness if necessary, a screw-in tree step, or an assist strap to step on

  1. Wear your Harness:

Yes, this is how vital safety is.  We repeated this tip as the wrap-up to the eight reminders when climbing in and out of trees.

If you want to learn more about treestand safety, you can find lots of resources available with the

Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA)

As you prepare your stands for the season, you are also brushing out your shooting lanes if you are in the market for a new pruner, loppers, or pole saw. Check out; let me help you save money by using discount code SH15OFF during checkout.

The Thermacell and bug spray have been getting lots of use fending off the bugs! With bugs in full force, I’m looking forward to our first frost already.

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Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.