West Virginia DNR Law Enforcement Section Offers Tree Stand Safety Tips

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

Tree stand safety is a major part of the West Virginia DNR’s Hunter Education course.
Tree stand safety is a major part of the West Virginia DNR’s Hunter Education course.
West Virginia DNR
West Virginia DNR

South Charleston, WV -(Ammoland.com)- November is a big month for hunters, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) reminds hunters that safety is the most important part of a successful season.

One of the most popular pieces of equipment used by deer hunters is a tree stand. Tree stands can be dangerous if they are used incorrectly or carelessly. Nationally, one in three hunting injuries involves a tree stand. Falls from tree stands can be caused by a variety of factors, including a weakness in the stand’s structure and incorrect installation.

Hunters also may fall asleep while on their stands. Tree stands can also be a factor in other hunting accidents, including injury from accidental firing of a loaded firearm while the hunter is climbing to the stand.

“Because tree stand incidents have become the most common cause of hunter injuries, DNR has been emphasizing tree stand safety in the mandatory hunter education courses we schedule around the state,” said Col. Jerry Jenkins, Chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Section.

To help prevent these accidents, follow these safety precautions:

  • Never carry equipment with you while climbing. Use a haul line to raise or lower your gear. Make sure guns are unloaded and broad heads are covered prior to raising or lowering firearms or bows with a haul line.
  • Since most accidents occur when hunters are climbing up or down a tree, always use a climbing belt. Always use a safety belt or harness when hunting from elevated tree stands. Study manufacturer’s recommendations before using any equipment. Never use a rope to replace a safety belt.
  • Check permanent tree stands every year before hunting from them, and replace any worn or weak lumber.
  • Read, understand and follow the factory recommended practices and procedures when installing commercial stands. Inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts each time they are used.
  • Choose only healthy, living trees when using climbing devices. Rough-barked trees such as oak are best. Do not use a tree that is rotten or has dead limbs.
  • Never put all your weight on a single branch. Keep at least one hand and one foot on a secure place when reaching for the next hold.
  • Climb higher than the stand and step down onto it. Climbing up onto it can dislodge it.
  • Wear boots with non-skid soles, because steps or platforms can be slippery in rain, sleet or snow.
  • Tell a dependable person where you’re hunting and when you plan on returning. Map your whereabouts and leave a note at camp, at home or in your car so that you can be found.
  • Don’t fall asleep. This is a common cause of accidents. If you get drowsy, move your arms rapidly until you feel alert.
  • Never wear a ring in any climbing situation. Rings can catch on tree limbs and equipment.
  • As a precautionary measure, remove all logs, upturned and cutoff saplings, rocks and other obstructions on the ground below the tree stand.
  • Use updated equipment. When used properly, newer tree stand equipment is solid, safe and secure. Older models of safety belts offer some protection, but newer safety harnesses offer more protection.
  • Carry a whistle to call for help and carry a first aid kit, flashlight and cellular telephone in a fanny pack.

All persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, must first successfully complete a certified hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license. The course is free and takes about 12 hours to complete. Information about the course and a schedule of classes can be found at http://wvdnr.gov/lenforce/education.shtm or by calling 304-558-2784.

An online version of the course also is available, although the final test must be taken in person.

About the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR)

It is the statutory mission of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) to provide and administer a long-range comprehensive program for the exploration, conservation, development, protection, enjoyment and use of the natural resources of the State of West Virginia.