As Alabama hunters head to the woods for the opening days of archery deer season, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division urges all hunters to observe treestand safety rules for a safe and enjoyable trip outdoors.

Last year there were 14 treestand falls in Alabama, including one that resulted in a fatality. Treestand incidents are one of the leading causes of injury to hunters.

Hunter Education Coordinator Marisa Futral said that treestand accidents are the most common type of hunting incidents in Alabama.

Futral urges hunters to utilize the following safety tips:

• Always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall-arrest system, when you are in a tree stand, as well as when climbing into or out of a treestand. Statistics show that the majority of treestand incidents occur while climbing in and out of a stand.

• A safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12 inches.

• Always inspect the safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use.

• Follow all manufacturers' instructions for use of a safety harness and stand.

• Follow the three-point rule of treestand safety. Always have three points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving. This could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving. Be cautious that rain, frost, ice or snow can cause steps to become extremely slippery. Check the security of the step before placing your weight on it.

• Always hunt with a plan and, if possible, a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.

• Always carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your fall-arrest system. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an incident, remain calm and seek help immediately.

• Always select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live, straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand's instructions. Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.

• Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.

• Always use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.

• Always know your physical limitations. Don't take chances. Do not climb when using drugs, alcohol or if you're sick or unrested. If you start thinking about how high you are, stop climbing.

• Visit www.tmastands.com/_safety.html for more treestand safety tips.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Patrol, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com.

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