With the acres of corn dwindling by the day, and the morning sun having to burn off the early morning frost, for myself and many others it is time to take to the woods. As many of you know the rut "deer mating season" is on the near horizon, and there is no better place to be on the first couple weeks of November than perched in a tree 15 to 20 feet above nature's beauty.
Tree stand safety is something that I hadn't really thought about ten years ago, but with the recent fatalities and stories of close calls it has risen to the top of my list. I remember when I first started bow hunting, I was using homemade tree stands and the thought of a safety harness was something I never thought about.
I don't know if you realize, but statistics show that 1 out of 3 hunters will fall from a tree stand while hunting, or being in a tree stand. To me those are scary statistics. Along with those statistics, the thing that really struck home for me was becoming a father. With two small children at home, the thought of becoming seriously injured, or the worse scenario of having a fatal accident seemed to be acting carelessly. Also, even though my children are small it is time for me to be a good role model and teach the right and safe way to approach hunting. After realizing it was time to be safe, I found it to be very comfortable and affordable to do so.
Now that tree stand safety has become such a concern throughout the hunting industry, it has become a lot easier and more affordable to do so. The new standards in the tree stand industry is that every new tree stand sold must include a full body safety harness. So now you can tell your wife that to be a safe hunter you will have to buy a new tree stand - it works every time.
The rumbling I used to hear and probably even echoed myself was that they were uncomfortable and limited the shots you were able to make from the tree. To be honest with you those comments are excuses or opinions from someone that hasn't ever hunted with one. To me the more uncomfortable thing is having your family find you lying below your tree stand, and having to explain to your kids why their mother of father won't be coming home tonight. Those are the thoughts that struck home for me. The harnesses are very comfortable and make you feel secure. Personally I have never been that fond of heights so the extra security is worth a lot.
Probably the most common remark about using a full body safety harness is that it limits their range of motion; so therefore potentially causing them to miss an opportunity to make a shot. I can't totally disregard those remarks, but personally with a little adjusting and preplanning you can eliminate that worry. Besides, I personally believe that there isn't a deer or animal worth risking your life, or causing tragedy in someone's family.
I realize that 5 to 10 years ago, if I read this article I am not sure if it would have sunk in, but believe me the risk is not worth the rewards. The rewards I have at home, one being 3 and the other being 1 are worth far more to me then any buck that I could place on my wall. Not to beat a dead horse, but please take it to heart and don't be a statistic. If you are a spouse, mother, father, or friend of someone that will be spending many hours in a tree stand in the near future, let them know.
Good luck this fall, and BE SAFE.