I support the following organizations and their continued conservation and education efforts. I hope you will too.



Tree Stand Safety

bad idea

Belive it or not, the above picture is an actual stand used at one time on a ranch in South Texas. What's even more amazing is that the users of this stand had another similar one in a tree across from this one. And only one ladder between them ! The picture below is an old wooden stand someone finished with and left. I have no idea how old it was but would guess "safe" wasn't one of its strong points.

wooden ladder stand

In 2006 I took one of the first classes on treestand safety given by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA). Most all commercial treestands are now certified thru them. The class was held for Hunter Education Instructors so we could begin to get the word out on safety. The knowledge I took from that class and from experiences since then go directly into my classes.

I have been wanting to do a page on treestands and safety for a while. I have heard countless stories of avoidable mishaps that include serious injury and sometimes even death. Anyone using or planning to use a treestand needs to know the dangers involved. It all begins with the right mindset. Being safe is choice. A choice that can follow you to the woods and back home after the hunt. Not caring about safety or paying attention to it is making the choice not to be safe. Reading this page does not make you a safe user of treestands. YOUR ACTIONS WILL !

Gerber Knives - Fend For Yourself

Treestands come in many styles and variations. Those include ladder stands, climbing stands and hang on stands. Several companies make these stands and only by trying them out and talking to others that have tried them can you make a decision on which to use. Remember, if you buy one and are not comfortable using it, DON'T! Some people may not like the physical aspects of a climber. Others may not like a ladder stand for it's lack of mobility. Once you do make a decision though learn how to use the stand properly and safely.


All TMA certified stands come with a Fall Arrest System (FAS) or safety harness. I encourage everyone who uses a treestand to learn how to use one of these. If you don't like the type included with the stand, look into purchasing a vest type harness. There are now several makers of these and they are easier to use than the simple harnesses that may come with your stand. Keep in mind however that using these harnesses don't mean you are 100% safe. Learn the proper way to use one. Practice wearing one and hanging from one near the ground. This will give you and idea of what it might feel like to hang from one 20 feet off the ground. Also make sure the FAS has a suspension relief device. This is basically a loop that hangs down behind you. Suspension trauma can occur quickly and can be deadly. Using a relief device can safe your life.

I personally use Hunter Safety System® Pro Series Mesh Vest. Bowhunting season in Texas is usually on the warm side so I like the mesh much better than the reversable, which can be rather warm during our bow season. Though all TMA approved stands now come with a harness, I prefer this over them. They tend to be straps with cumbersome fasteners. The mesh vest is quick and easy to put on and take off. I do plan to move up to a Hunter Safety System Ultra Lite Safety Harnesses this season. I think it will be even easier to use. Watch for reviews on this one later in the year.

Along with your practice with the FAS, you can also practice with your stand. know what it takes to use it properly. If you are using a climber, practice strapping onto a tree and walking it up and down the tree. Remember to mount it at an angle as shown above as it will level out as you climb. Make sure you have the top and bottom tethered together. Having the bottom fall away while you are 20 feet up a tree is no fun. Keeping your feet in the stirrups may take some practice also so don't wait til the day of the hunt to try it out. If you choose a ladder stand, have at least 3 people to stand it up and take it down. Clean away all dead leaves and debris from the area where the feet will be. Be very careful climbing up it to secure the top strap. Using a hanging stand requires some way to access it. Attaching ladder sticks or other devices requires use of your hands so use a linesman belt with your FAS as you attach the ladder/sticks. Also, as shown below, have enough height on your sticks to be above your hang on stand. That way you will be stepping down onto the platform, not pushing it away from you as you would do by simply stepping straight across onto it.

step down

The bottom line is "THINK SAFETY" ! Once you stop thinking about it, once your actions become second nature, one you ignore even the simplest safety rules, you open yourself up to the dangers of treestand use. Have a successful and SAFE hunting season this year !

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