In the first installment of the two-part series “Off Season Survival Tips,” we discussed a few tips to remember when preparing your tree stands during the off-season. In the final installment, we look at more helpful tips to keep us safe as we prepared for the upcoming hunting seasons.
Things to think about BEFORE you leave your home to hang new stands or trim limbs from your shooting lanes:
- Always tell someone where you are going and when to expect you home. Be as specific as possible about the details and check in often. Cell phone coverage has improved significantly around the country, so there is no reason not to call someone to tell them you are getting ready to climb a tree and hang your stand. Be sure to check back in when you are down safely.
- When you are climbing a tree, always keep three points of contact on the tree at all times.
- Before you head into the woods, practice climbing and using your equipment in your backyard. Get comfortable using a climbing rope and safety harness.
- Never carry equipment while you are climbing. Use a haul line instead and, regardless of whether you are hanging stands or just trimming limbs, have a buddy help hand you the equipment instead of climbing up and down to get it. The less time you spend going up and down the tree, the less chance you have of getting injured.
- Keeping a knife in an accessible location (not in a backpack) in case you fall and need to cut the straps to get down is wise. Consider attaching a plastic box cutter type of safety knife to the outside of your vest. Also, attach a whistle to your vest or carry a cell phone.
- Use the buddy system when hanging stands prior to season opener. The extra hands are great for safety considerations. Remember reaching to cut branches out-of-the-way or hauling heavy equipment up a tree makes this one of the most dangerous times of the year for hunters.
- Keep an eye on weather conditions. Hanging tree stands and clearing and cutting branches is challenging enough, and doing it during the excessively hot days of summer adds to the danger. Heat stroke and heart attacks can, and do, happen even if you’re in great physical shape. If possible, do most of your pre-season work during the coolest part of the day. Avoid doing any tree work during wet weather or when the threat of lightning is possible.
- If possible, trim limbs and branches from the ground using a tree trimming pole extension type of cutting tool to reach high branches. Sometimes it is necessary to trim limbs and foliage up high, near your seat, and always avoid overreaching and extending yourself out too far from the base of your stand. Overreaching is where many accidents happen because it is so easy to lose your balance. Instead, use the pole extension cutter or a grasping type of hook which snags the small limbs and brings them closer to you, which is much safer.
Finally it is critical to remember that personal safety, whether deer hunting is in or out of season, safety is always in season.
Have you ever had a scary moment and lived to share the story with your friends and family? Share your experiences in the comment section and don’t forget to stay safe!
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics such as archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.
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