You can’t fix stupid. At least, that’s what they tell me. But I tend to disagree. I once was stupid. I hung treestands mindlessly, carelessly, and without caution. I didn’t follow any of the safety rules. I just monkey-crawled right up that tree and ratcheted on a stand.
I don’t do that anymore.
A few years ago I almost fell 20 feet. I wasn’t following treestand safety protocol and almost paid the price for it. That’s when I began implementing ways to reduce the risk of injury and death. Below are 6 safer strategies for hanging stands that’ll ensure you make it back to the house at the end of the hunt.
A Harness While Hanging
There isn’t anything you can do that will make hanging stands safer than wearing a safety harness. Make sure you are tied on before your feet leave the ground. Move your tether or lineman’s belt up the tree as you continue to climb and place steps.
I like a longer tether rope while hunting. But it’s best to use a short tether rope while hanging stands. A shorter one allows you to lean back and keeps most of your weight on your feet. This takes the load off your upper body and frees up your hands to do the work.
Once you get to the desired height, tie on a rope that runs all the way to the ground. The Hunter Safety System Lifeline is a great option for this. This is what you will clip your harness tether to. Tie the rope again around the base of the tree so the rope is somewhat rigid. This system allows you to stay tied on from the time you leave the ground until you reach it again. Simply push the Lifeline, or knot, up the rope as you climb.
Space Steps Close Together
I’ve been known to stretch steps as far apart as possible simply because I’m too frugal to buy a bunch of them. I’ve also been known to stretch them out because it keeps other people out of them (I’m fairly tall). Even with these two excuses, it isn’t worth doing.
Another way to lessen the odds of injury is to place steps closer together. There is nothing worse than climbing ice-covered steps in the middle of December and your foot slipping off each one as you climb. It’s dangerous. It’s unnecessary. Your well-being isn’t worth saving cash or preventing other hunters from hunting your stand.
Keeping steps closer together not only makes climbing safer but also makes it quieter, too. Having to stretch way out to reach each step will only create unnecessary pings and clanks. Put them closer together.
Keep Trunks Clean
Trim limbs and branches as you go. Don’t leave any limbs that could interfere with climbing. Don’t leave any limbs that you could mistake for a step. You don’t want to be climbing up in the early predawn and come crashing down because you stepped on a branch you thought was a step. This is especially true for dead limbs.
The best way to cut limbs is to climb with a pair of pruners on your belt. Stow a Wicked Tree Gear saw for larger limbs. Cut as you go and be sure you remove them as close to the trunk as possible.
Use a Pull-Up Rope
You’ve got all of the steps in. Now pull the stand up using a pull-up rope. This will prevent you from having to climb the tree with the stand in hand.
Once the stand is pulled up, tie it to the tree trunk so you don’t have to support its weight. This allows you to position and secure the stand in place with ease. Once finished, attach the tie-on rope to the stand so you can pull up gear when you return to hunt.
Wrap It Twice
The biggest mistake I see hunters make is to rely only on the strap that come with their treestand. I don’t do this. If the stand has a rope that pulls tight, but doesn’t have its own ratchet strap, I get one for it. Each stand should have at least one ratchet strap and really needs two. That’s two to three straps total for each stand. It may seem overkill to some but I’ve always been of the opinion that I’d rather be safe than sorry. A couple extra straps never hurt anything.
The best method I’ve found to lock in a stand is to place one strap up high near the seat and one down low near the base. This keeps the stand from wiggling and shifting as you step on or off. Not only will this help keep you safe, but it also help prevent your stand from moving or squeaking at the moment of truth.
Use a Climber
This method is often overlooked by hunters. Granted, it’s harder to do on public land and walk-in only areas but using a climber can make hanging fixed position treestands much easier.
Attach the climber and tether your harness to the tree then climb up to the desired height. Use a pull-up rope to pull up the other treestand. Ratchet on the stand, tie on a pull-up rope and then begin climbing down, attaching steps as you go.
This completely frees up your hands and feet to do the job. Plus, it will strain you much less to hang treestands this way as you’ve got a larger, stable base to work from. I know it may seem a bit odd and impractical but trust me, it works.
Hanging treestands isn’t easy. It’s a tough job, but it doesn’t have to be a dangerous job. It’s only dangerous if you make it be. Use these tips this summer and fall and you will feel much safer while hanging your treestands.