Be safe in your tree stand

During archery deer season, Michigan conservation officers are stressing safety for those hunting from tree stands or elevated platforms.

“Tree stands are popular with many hunters who want an increased advantage, but improper use of them can result in injuries and death,” said Sgt. Tom Wanless, Hunter Education Program supervisor for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We always stress safety when using a tree stand or raised platform.”

The important things to remember when using a tree stand for hunting are:

-Buy a safe and comfortable stand and harness that’s right for you. Safe and reliable equipment reduces your chance of injury.
-Carefully read all instructions and warnings provided with your stand.
-Practice setting up your stand and safety equipment at ground level first. –Use all recommended safety straps and pins to secure the stand.
-Wear the safety harness at all times when climbing, hunting and descending.
-Choose a harness with a quick-release system that will hold you right-side-up and not restrict your breathing should you fall.
-Maintain your equipment – look for wear, stress points and loose fasteners. -Fix or replace worn equipment immediately.
-Choose as straight a tree as possible, and watch for dead, overhanging limbs and rotten wood.
-Use extra care when hunting from a smooth-barked tree (such as aspen, maple, hickory and beech) because if it rains, they get slippery.
-Use extra care when hunting from a frozen tree. Avoid using elevated stands when it’s icy.
-Always use a haul rope to bring gear, firearm or bow to and from the ground.
-Always unload your gun before hauling.
-If hauling a bow, tie your line to the top limb of the bow when climbing and the bottom when descending to avoid snagging arrows in tree branches.
-Be extra alert when climbing or descending from the stand. These are when most tree-stand accidents occur.

For more information on hunting regulations and safe use of equipment, check the 2013 hunting digests.

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