Find the Right Tree
Early in the season and excited at the prospect of hunting a newly gained tract, the hunter arrived extra early and began his trek down to the creek he knew existed on the property.
In the pre-dawn darkness, he wound his way downhill through pine, holly and elms and arrived at a likely looking area adjacent to the creek bottom.
Using his climbing stand, he did everything right - almost.
Setting the stand on the tree, tying a pull rope to an unloaded rifle and a pack, attaching a safety belt to the tree and putting his safety harness vest on - he ascended the tree, resetting the safety belt on the tree each time he moved upwards.
He reached 20 feet or so in the darkness and pulled his gear up to him and then sat down in the seat of the stand - which was a stand where you sit facing the tree.
When he sat, he felt a sickening sway rearward of the tree...
Undiscovered by our hunter, the tree had a damaged area down near the base - and the extra weight of the hunter caused the tree to fail.
To compound matters, there was another tree behind our hunter... and as he and the trunk of the tree fell rearward, the tree the stand was on went into a V shaped set of branches of the other tree and it snapped again, this time much further up the tree.
This caused our hunter to be catapaulted even faster toward the ground.
Several surgeries and six months of lost income later, our hunter learned his lesson.
Inspect every tree you climb very carefully.
Look upwards and make sure the tree either has live leaves on it and you can tell that it recently did.
Tap your hand on the truck of the tree... you can often "feel" a live tree versus a dead tree.
Look around the base and along the trunk of the tree for damaged areas, look at the roots of the tree (if you can see them) and make sure not are trying to pull up out of the ground... and also that water has not washed out the base of the tree that might cause it to lose hold from the earth.
Any of these issues (and many others) could cause the tree to fall while you are in it.
If you have any doubts, choose another tree!
(This happened to a work mate of mine... he lost the entire deer season that year, broke his shoulder, his collar bone, his upper arm and his wrist and also injured his back. He had to walk out of the woods and drive himself to a store to get help - there is no cell service there. This is a brutal reminder of tree stand safety).