Archery season for white-tail deer is upon us and many of the archery hunters will be hunting from a tree stand and I wonder how many will not be wearing a safety harness.
I know I have been guilty of forgetting or ignoring tree stand safety harnesses. In my younger days when I was bullet proof the thought of a safety harnesses would not have crossed my mind.
I can remember the last time I was hunting in a ground blind and sitting on a folding camp stool, fallen asleep and off of the seat and awoke with quite a start when I hit the ground after falling from an awesome distance of 18 inches. That incident impressed me so that I have purchased a new Flat Back Foam Seat from Hunter Specialties that rests on the ground. Also I have never since hunted from a tree stand without a safety harness.
Today we have all kind of safety harnesses available for those who will be hunting from many of the open tree stands. The one I really like is the Hunter Safety System Pro Series Harness. It is a mesh vest with the straps sewn into the vest so you put on the vest clip the chest strap, slip your legs through the leg supports and off you go. It also comes with a foot support strap so if you do fall from your stand you can clip the strap to the back of your harness and put your foot in it to support your weight and take the strain off of you straps between your legs and eliminating the possibility of cutting off the circulation to your legs, which can eventually end in death.
When in a tree stand there are all kind of bad things that can happen if you should fall. Wearing a safety harness not properly adjusted can still be a problem. It is important to have your harness anchored to the tree with a tree strap high enough that if you should fall you will not be below your stand, but with your feet or bottom as high as your stand when dangling, so you can pull yourself back over to the stand and right back into the seat or in a standing position.
In such a fall the odds are that you will drop your bow and arrows so they will be at the bottom of the tree, but you are likely to still have your knife with you and may consider that as a way to extract yourself from a bad situation of dangling if you are below your stand and cannot get back in it on your own. Consider that for a moment and the picture yourself falling X number of feet landing on top of you bow and arrows while holding a knife. Not a pretty picture.
So folks before the next trip, think safety harness. Try them on and see which fits you most comfortably and will still save you if you should fall. Even if you have to go to the top of the line harness and shell out a couple hundred dollars the choice is far more palatable than ending your life or seriously injured in a heap, on top of you hunting equipment beneath a tree during hunting season.
Written by: Larry LeBlanc
Photo by Howard Communications