Hunters Urged to Be Careful When Using a Tree Stand

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Nebraskas 2005 archery deer hunting season opened September 15, and thousands of archers across the state are in the field hoping to get a shot at a trophy buck. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission urges them to be very careful when using their tree stands.

Whether hunting with archery gear or a rifle, the same rules apply for using a tree stand.

Tree stand accidents are common and most are caused by carelessness. Accidents and falls can occur whenever the stand is being used, whether the hunter is installing the stand, climbing into or out of it, or hunting from it.

Nebraska Hunter Education Coordinator Mike Streeter says most tree stand accidents can be avoided if the hunter just thinks about what they are doing when using a stand.

Here is Streeters advice for avoiding tree stand accidents:

– Inspect the stand, steps and safety belt carefully before going into the woods. Carefully inspect the stand before leaving home to determine if it is in good condition rather than waiting to find repairs are needed when you try to install it in a tree.

– When inspecting stands, look for missing and/or broken fasteners, braces, frames, seats and platforms and make the necessary replacements.

– Dont hurry when hanging a stand. Place the stand in a spot where you can get into and out of the tree and the stand safely and easily regardless of the weather conditions.

– Be sure to put the stand on the tree in the exact manner recommended by the manufacturer. Dont try to make it fit the tree.

– Think carefully about installing portable steps. Try to visualize what will happen if a step breaks while you are climbing into or out of the tree. Take a look at the tree with your steps on it and imagine sliding down a pole with meat hooks attached to it. Use only steps that are in perfect condition and install them exactly as directed by the manufacturer.

– Always use a haul rope to get equipment into and out of the stand -- never climb into the stand with equipment hanging from your body.

– Always wear a full-body harness from the time you are on the ground before climbing into the stand, until the time you are on the ground after climbing down from the stand.

– When climbing, use the three-point method, which means at least three parts of your body – two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand – are always in contact with the tree.

– Once in the stand, the first thing you should do is attach your harness to the tree. Taking off the belt is the last thing you do before climbing down.

– The most dangerous type of tree stand is one made from lumber and nails. Never use this type of stand.

– Remain calm when a deer approaches. Some hunters become so excited when they see a deer that they forget where they are and accidentally fall from the stand. Some hunters forget they are in a stand and try to walk toward the deer after they shoot. Taking a step off of a tree stand platform is an unpleasant experience that may result in injury, even if you are wearing a safety belt.

– After taking a shot, sit and calm down. Wait at least 30 minutes if you are sure you have made a perfect shot. If you suspect your shot placement was not perfect, make yourself wait even longer.