Hunting and Outdoors

Off Season Survival Tips, Part 1

Dark haired man in multi colored shirt and shirts partway up a tree trimming branches for a treestand

The truth is the “in season” really never switches to “off”’ even during the summertime. In fact, summertime can beextremely busy as we begin hanging new treestands and clearing branches, brush and other debris out of shooting lanes. For many hunters, treestand safety comes to mind only after the season has been in for a week or so, and usually only after you hear of someone getting hurt or even dying while hunting from an elevated hunting stand.

View of green trees, looking up from the grown
Overgrown tree branches may look pretty to most folks, but to hunters they can mean danger.

Treestand safety is vitally important, especially during the “off season,” because accidents can and do still happen. When you factor in the dangers added from extreme heat and heavy foliage on limbs it only adds to the risks.

Off season safety was driven home to me several years ago and, I can honestly say, I will remember this tragedy for as long as I live. The grim look on the Conservation Officer’s face as he reported the details regarding a local man’s death to the news reporter on the evening news said it all.

Apparently the hunter had been reported missing by his family and when the authorities went looking for him they eventually discovered his body hanging below his partially attached lock- on stand, nearly 20 feet up a large tree. The hunter had been preparing for the upcoming deer season, still two months away.

He left his home on a hot day to go hang several new treestands and clear debris away from some old ones, two things he had done every year for the last two decades. The hunter was reported to have been wearing a harness when the officers finally found his body; sadly it was too late. The autopsy report stated he died from asphyxiation.

Dark haired man in multi colored shirt and shirts partway up a tree trimming branches for a treestandAccording to statistics, nearly one out of every three hunters who hunt from an elevated stand will fall at some point during their life and many of these statistics only account for falls or deaths “during” the season and not during the “off season.” Too many hunters die every year, plus many more are injured, as a result of a fall from a treestand. Reports show simple carelessness appears to be the main reason for treestand accidents. A misstep here, a weak limb there and before you know it, your life is flashing before your eyes.

In the case previously mentioned,the hunter was hanging an elevated stand months before the season even began. Regardless of the time of year, any time you are up a tree doing any kind of work please remember you are at risk of getting injured or dying.

Here are a few tips to help keep you safe while you hang your treestands in preparation for the upcoming season.

  • Teamwork is the safest option when hanging a treestand or climbing a tree to scout or trim branches from a shooting lane. Even if your teammate does not climb the tree or hunt, having a person tag along who can lend a hand or at least summon help in case you get hurt is important and may mean the difference between life and death.
  • One of the most critical aspects of keeping safe while working from an elevated position is to always wear a full-body safety harness and safety strap and to always stay tethered to the tree at all times.
  • Inspect every piece of equipment before using it. Regardless of the quality of equipment, it is only as good as the you are, so read the instructional and safety manual and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Go slow! During the in season we often scurry up a tree in such a hurry in hopes of getting in position before a deer shows up. During the off season there is no need to hurry so take it slow and pace yourself.
  • Take breaks and drink plenty of water in extreme heat of the summer months.
  • Hanging stands often means multiple trips up a tree. Remember to tether yourself each time you step foot off the ground, even if you are making a quick, last minute trip up to make a final check of your work or trim that one little branch you think might be in your way.

These helpful tips are just a few things to be conscious of during the off season prep time. In the next installment of “Off Season Survival Tips” we will take a look at a few more things to think about the next time you scurry up a tree in the heat of summer.

How will you adjust what you’re doing during the off season now that you’ve read this post? Share what you’ll do differently or add your tips in the comments


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