By Brandon Butler
Swatting mosquitoes and horse flies and hoping to emerge tick and chigger free, I plunged into the sweltering August heat to set up treestands.
This task may trigger excitement, as it symbolizes the fact that deer season is almost upon us, but it also needs to be approached with caution. Many accidents occur while setting up treestands.
As I have aged, simplicity has gained importance. Today, I prefer hunting from ladder stands. The stands I use are easy to set up, simple to access, comfortable and rock solid once properly attached to the tree.
I take them down each winter and store them inside to help preserve their life. Before putting them back up toward the end of summer, I inspect each one for signs of damage that could lead to a malfunction. I also oil all the contact points to help eliminate potential squeaks at the worst possible times.
Falls from treestands or falls while putting up or taking down treestands devastate families each year. Certainly, this year will be no different.
This season, lives will needlessly be lost. Children will become fatherless. By simply wearing the proper safety equipment and taking your time, you can likely avoid such a catastrophe.
That’s why it is so important to always, always wear a safety harness while hunting from a treestand and to use a Lifeline when climbing — including while setting your stand.
The first time you climb into a set is typically the most dangerous time up a tree, because if you are going to break a branch, then the first time you step on it is the most likely time for it to snap. Being careful and cautious, and taking your time, is a must.
One statistic that may surprise you is a very small percentage of falls actually occur once hunters are situated in their stand.
Nearly 90 percent of falls occur while ascending or descending a tree, or climbing onto or off of a stand. Many hunters make the potentially fatal mistake of climbing unprotected. Don’t do this. Your loved ones deserve more from you.
A tool I picked up this year that is a big help in setting treestands is a gas-powered pole saw made by Stihl. This saw allows me to trim a tree before I climb it, thus eliminating potential obstacles. It also makes clearing shooting lanes an absolute breeze.
I put off buying one for years because of the price, but with proper maintenance, I hope to use this saw for decades to ensure I don’t leave a limb hanging that could trip me up while climbing or could block a potential shot. I should have invested in one of these saws years ago.
If you’re going to hunt from a treestand, then you have to wear safety equipment. There is no excuse.
With today’s products, like those from Hunter Safety System, you’ll be comfortable while protecting yourself and your family.
From the time your feet leave the ground until they touch back down, wear safety equipment. Don’t risk it. Your life is way too important. Wear a safety harness and use a Lifeline.
For more information about how to safely use treestands, visit the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association Website at www.tmastands.com.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.