Hunting in North Carolina - Know Your Tree Stand
Tree Stand Safety Should Be a Top Priority for Hunters
When deer season commences, many hunters across North Carolina climb into tree stands. Tree stands are among the most popular hunting equipment used. Unfortunately, most hunting accidents in the state and across the nation are directly related to faulty tree stands or failure to use the stands properly.
Hunting safety coordinators advise using a fall arrest system. A full harness that is attached and in use before you leave the ground is recommended. This safety measure is stressed by wildlife officers to hunters.
There are several important tree stand basics and precautions to be aware of:
- Fixed-position stands can go almost anywhere and fit on almost any tree. However, hunters need to be more careful when hanging and climbing into them than other types of stands. They are the most basic of stands and are preferred by bow hunters for their ease of assembly, movement, and quietness. But they are not as comfortable as some stands because of limitations on the size and shape of the seat and platform.
- Ladder stands are perfect for situations when a hunter is at the edge of a field, road, or food plot. They are easier for older, less agile, and mobile hunters to use. Many of these now come with shooting rails.
- Climbing stands are preferable to fixed-position stands if the hunter needs to be able to change areas without using multiple stands.
- Climbers are made for hunters to sit facing or away from the tree trunk. This is an advantage for rifle hunters because they can brace a rifle against the trunk of the tree for a steady aim. Facing away is better for archery hunters who may need to stand to draw and shoot. These stands are generally more comfortable than fixed-position stands.
- Tripods are manufactured stands that can be disassembled and moved from place to place. They generally provide a solid seat and shooting platform.
- Know how the tree stand works and practice using it beforehand near the ground.
- Know the manufacturer's recommendations and follow all guidelines for installation and use.
- Check all bolts, belts, chains and attachment cords before use, no matter how long the stand has been in place.
- Check before each hunting season and replace straps or supports that appear worn.
- Never carry anything as you climb. Use a rope to raise and lower an unloaded gun or other equipment once you are safely seated in the tree stand.
- Have an emergency signal (cell phone, whistle or flare) and let someone else know where you plan to hunt and when you plan to return.
- Never hang a tree stand at a dead tree.
- Practice hanging a stand just off the ground several times before actually setting one at the elevation you plan to hunt. This will familiarize you with the proper procedure and give you a chance to survive if an error is made.
- Do not wear rings or other jewelry on your hands. Jewelry can get caught on a limb or piece of equipment.
- Once the stand is in position, make sure you have enough strap-on or screw-in steps so you are not climbing up into the stand, but rather stepping down into it. A hunter is most likely to fall at the end of a climb. Therefore, it's better to step down onto the platform of a stand than struggling to pull up into it.
- Carry a pair of vise-grip pliers, a small hand saw or pruning shears for cutting limbs and brush, and a few wing nuts or bolts that fit the stand in case you lose one while trying to put it together.