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Staying safe while tree stand hunting

Tree stands get hunters out of sight and smell of wary deer, but they can also get hunters into trouble. Here are some tips from Vermont Fish & Wildlife to help stay safe and get the most out of your tree stand hunting experience:

  • Choose a live, straight tree, and avoid ash that may be in decline due to emerald ash borers.
  • Buy smart. Only use stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA).
  • Inspect them each time you use them. Check your treestand for wear and tear each time you go out into the woods.
  • Know the rules. On state lands, it is illegal to place nails or other hardware into trees or to build permanent structures. On private lands, you must have landowner permission to erect a tree stand, cut or remove trees or other plants, or to cut limbs. All stands, including ground blinds, must be marked with their owner’s name and address.
  • Always wear a full-body safety harness, even for climbing. Most falls occur going up and down the tree and getting in and out of the stand. Make sure your safety harness is in good condition. Especially, check the straps.
  • Don’t go too high. The higher you go, the vital zone on a deer decreases, while the likelihood of a serious injury increases.
  • Never carry firearms or bows up and down trees. Always use a haul line to raise and lower all gear. Make sure your firearm is unloaded.
  • Familiarize yourself with your gear before you go. The morning of opening day is a poor time to put your safety belt on for the first time.
  • Be careful with long-term placement. Exposure can damage straps, ropes and attachment cords. Also, the stand’s stability can be compromised over time as the tree grows.

“Hunter education instructors want you to be safe this coming season,” said Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s Hunter Education Program Coordinator, Nicole Meier. “Falls from tree stands are a major cause of death and serious injury to deer hunters, but they are preventable by always wearing a full-body harness and staying connected to the tree.”

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