6 Safer Strategies for Hanging Stands

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.

Are you following the necessary steps to stay safe every time you climb into the tree?

Are you following the necessary steps to stay safe every time you climb into the tree?

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.

A harness and Lifeline are a must. Don't even think about leaving the ground without being tied in.

A harness and Lifeline are a must. Don’t even think about leaving the ground without being tied in.

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.

Accidents typically happen when climbing in and out of the treestand. Keep the trunk free of any obstructions that may increase your chances of an accident.

Accidents typically happen when climbing in and out of the treestand. Keep the trunk free of any obstructions that may increase your chances of an accident.

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.

Hunting from elevated perches is very effective. Placing a treestand in the right location is half the battle when trying to fill the freezer. Just be safe while hanging stands, and when hunting from them. Photo by Chantal Honeycutt

Hunting from elevated perches is very effective. Placing a treestand in the right location is half the battle when trying to fill the freezer. Just be safe while hanging stands and when hunting from them. Photo by Chantal Honeycutt

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.

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  1. David Glover says:

    If you are going to use only two straps to secure the stand to the tree, make sure to strap them both on the upper part of the seat post. That way if one breaks the stand will not flip and dump you out. The best method is three straps. Two high and one low.

  2. Brian Grossman says:

    Great article, Josh. As you recommend, I never rely on the factory straps, and prefer using two ratchet straps. I also rely on my Muddy safety harness with the tether rope around the tree and hooked to each side of my harness, lineman-style. No deer hunt is worth permanent injury or death!

  3. Lou Salamone Suburban Bowhunters says:

    Where do you find these guys ? !! So “it” hangs from his tether strap ? OMG – if your “stupid” writers/hunters knew anything they would know that a safety harness has loops on both sides of the waist area and they are not for some idiot to put his thumbs in. It’s called a lineman’s strap/rope – it also has loops on both ends and adjusts to the size if your tree. Use three spring loaded carabiners and you can figure out the rest, instead of hanging and having your tether pushing against your dumb ass noggin

  4. Josh Honeycutt says:

    Lou: First off, you sound as if you’ve had a rough day. So I’ll forgive you for showing your behind to everyone who read this article. Secondly, I’ve used a lineman’s rope many a times while hanging treestands. I’ve also used a regular tether/strap/rope/whatever-I-feel-like-calling-it that wraps around the tree. I like that method better because I have found something that works for me. Doesn’t mean anyone else has to. I just prefer it and wrote about it in case someone else prefers it, too. Thirdly, being a keyboard cowboy won’t get you anywhere in life. Class will. Have a nice day.

    • Josh Honeycutt says:

      Note: My preferred method has the rope higher up on the tree above my head than the traditional lineman belt does.

  5. Josh Honeycutt says:

    David: You’re right about the straps. That’s why between the factory straps and two ratchet straps my treestands have three altogether. I strap on the stand using the factory strap. Then I put one ratchet at the top and one at the bottom.

  6. Dwayne Jones says:

    Very good article!!! I thought everybody did this. I used a climber for years and I wore a safety harness when using it. When I started using loc-on tree stands about 5 years ago I was told how to hang them. I see I was shown the right way. Too many times watching hunting shows or videos I see men and women hanging stands without having on a Safety Harness or a Lineman’s belt. The Lineman’s belt allows you to work with both hands free and makes hanging a stand so easy. The first thing I do when I am hanging my climbing sticks is attach my Lineman’s belt. Once I am at the desired height, I install my Lifeline. Attach to it and continue hanging my stand. When you buy a HSS vest, there is a video inside. WATCH IT and you will see ALL OF THESE TIPS are in there. These tips have been in there for years! I don’t know about other vendors, but HSS does it. I know everyone don’t wear HSS vests and posting this article is a great thing. A lot of guys like using mobile setups like a Lonewolf and Climbing sticks. Using a LifeLine will slow them down by having to install it first and then climbing back down to secure it to the base of the tree. But your life is worth it! Don’t Take Chances!!

  7. Great article Josh.. I have used climbing stands for almost 15 years now but they limited you to only good strait trees. So this year i bought two hang on stands to tryout and this article really help me with a lot of the questions I had. Good luck in the woods this year..


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