Fall in Wisconsin is a beautiful time of year to be outside – to enjoy the colors of the changing leaves, the crisp air, and for many, to sit in the tree or deer stand for hunting season. While you may think firearm accidents are the most common cause of injury or death during hunting season, falls are even more common. Let’s talk about how to prevent falls this hunting season.
Nationally, the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation reports that 86% of fall victims didn’t wear a harness and 99% were not attached at the time that they fell. Lieutenant Michael Weber, Warden in charge of the Hunter Education Program at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), says falls prevention is important for all ages. “Preventing falls from treestands among our hunters who have been enjoying their outings for a few decades is even more important to help them continue on enjoying their annual seasons,” Weber said. “We all may lose some of our speed and reaction time, as well as sometimes thinking our physical capabilities are the same as years before.”
Weber says this is why reviewing and practicing these basic safety tips for the climb up into the stand – and down from the stand – are important. Safety is part of the fun. “Make it fun by checking your safety skills yourself or helping your good friend or loved one review and use them.”
One idea is to take this Treestand Safety Course at your convenience. It’s only 15 minutes and covers valuable information. “You could make it a social event, pop some corn and watch it with your favorite hunter,” he said.
Weber offers these basic rules of treestand safety to get you started and to keep you secure in your hunting adventure.
- Always wear a full-body harness, also known as a fall-arrest system. Connect to your tether line and keep your tether line short. The tether is designed to keep you in the seat, not to catch you after you fall.
- Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the treestand: This means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times.
- Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use the haul for other things like a heavy backpack.
- Use a lifeline when climbing up and down, this keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.
“Another must-do tip is to plan your hunt – share your plan with someone – and then follow that plan,” Weber said. “Pack a cell phone in case you need a bit of help, just call for it.”
Weber says safety is a serious matter. Making the review and practicing your safety skills is a fun exercise for everyone of any age. “Make your safety skills second nature!”
In addition to these tips about treestand safety, it’s important to think about safety in other hunting stands. Install handrails on both sides of the steps up to your stand, if you don’t already have them. Consider other things that may increase your risk of a fall like your vision, especially if you are walking in or out of the woods at dark, and your balance and strength.
For more falls prevention tips to practice year-round, visit FallsFreeWI.org.