Safety priority one when using tree stand

The Ohio archery season for whitetail deer begins in another month (Sept. 26) and there is good news about the most important priority bow hunting — safety.

The safety aspect concerns tree stands. While hunting from ground blinds has become popular, a large number of bow hunters still climb into trees to seek their quarry. And while hunting from a tree stand is safe, it also remains the top cause of injury and death to deer hunters.

The Tree Stand Safety Awareness (TSSA) Board has reported a major goal milestone has been exceeded concerning safety. The goal of reducing the estimated number of tree stand falls requiring emergency department care by 50 percent by the year 2023 actually reached 65 percent according to 2019 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). It was analyzed to calculate an estimated 1,937 people sought emergency department care as the result of an injury from a tree stand fall. It is estimated that one out of three tree stand hunters will suffer a fall time during their life.

The estimated 65 percent decrease over the baseline estimate in 2010 is the lowest estimated number since a unique tracking number for tree was initiated in 2010.

According to Glen Mayhew, president of TSSA, “This stretch goal was set early on and seen as potentially unreachable. Exceeding this goal demonstrates the outstanding achievements that can occur when we all work together for a common purpose. It has taken an ongoing commitment from across the hunting and outdoors industry to significantly move the needle in a positive direction helping to ensure that every hunter using a tree stand comes home safe. The bottom line is, hunting from a tree stand is a safe and enjoyable way to hunt as long as we follow a few simple safety principles.”

Three safety principles are known as the ABCs of Tree Stand Safety and serve as the foundation of our awareness campaigns. They are:

• Always remove and inspect your equipment

• Buckle on your full-body harness

• Connect to the tree before your feet leave the ground

While these ABCs are the primary concern for safety, there are other tips bow hunters (and gun hunters during their seasons) should follow, according to TSSA. They include:

• Proper tree selection is a must. You want a strong, healthy tree. Bypass any tree with noticeable rot or damage.

• Always use a secure and high-quality safety harness. You can permanently end your deer hunting career with only one fall.

• A strong safety strap or rope attached to the tree and your harness should not allow you to fall more than 12 inches.

• Along with checking wear, tear and possible damage to your safety harness and tree stand prior to the season, continually monitor these throughout the season.

• Make sure everything is tightly secure to the tree when hunting from a fixed position or hang-on stand. Inspect your ladder steps.

• Use the three-point rule. It says to have three points of contact to your steps or ladder when climbing or descending from your stand.

Know that weather can cause slippery and hazardous climbing conditions. Take appropriate precautions following rain, snow or icy weather.

• When climbing into or coming down from a tree stand always use a haul line for your gear and your weapon (bow or gun). When coming down, let your equipment down on the opposite side of the tree.

Don’t be in a hurry when using a climbing stand. Use slow, steady and even movements or no more than 12 inches at a time.

• Let family and friends know exactly where you are hunting that day (Some hunters use more than one stand and location). Take along a communication device like a cell phone and make sure it is fully charged.

* * *

Logan J. Ambrister of Lima and Nathan M. Robinson of Coldwater were among a dozen new wildlife officers sworn in during a recent virtual graduation ceremony. They graduated from the 30th Wildlife Officer Pre-Service Training Academy.

Ambrister has been assigned to Belmont County while Robinson has been assigned to Van Wert County. They will continue training by working with experienced wildlife officers in their area of assignment for the net six months. The 12 were hired from a pool of more than 900 applicants, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Wildlife officers have statewide authority to enforce wildlife regulations and protect state lands, waterways and property. These officers also contribute to public safety in their local areas and the state’s outdoors. Each year, wildlife officers speak to hundreds of clubs and groups about conservation and wildlife programs; perform fish and wildlife surveys and provide technical advice and instruction about hunting fishing and other outdoor-related recreation.


Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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