Hunting is by far one of the safest outdoor recreational activities. However, each hunting season, accidents happen that could be avoided. One of the more common accidents, and usually most serious, is falling from an elevated position. The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) recommends that hunters always wear a full-body harness when hunting from an elevated position. Single strap belts and chest harnesses are not safe and should not be used.
The full-body harness should be attached to the tree from the moment you leave the ground until you safely return to the ground. Also, unload your gun prior to pulling it up or lowering it with a strong cord or rope.
“It sounds obvious, but wearing your harness and not attaching to the tree will not save you if you fall,” said Marisa Futral, WFF Hunter Education Coordinator. “Most falls occur while ascending and descending, or stepping into and out of the tree stand, so it is extremely important to be attached to the tree at all times. Wearing one that is attached to the tree can save your life.”
Once at the desired height, maintain a short tether between you and the tree with no slack when sitting. The tether should be fastened to the tree at eye level or above. This will allow you to recover easier if you experience a fall. Never allow the tether strap to get under your chin or around your neck.
Other important considerations for hunting from an elevated position: carefully inspect the tree stand and harness before each use, check the expiration date printed on the label of the harness, never use a damaged or expired harness, properly fasten the tree stand to the tree prior to use, and make sure the harness is capable of supporting your body weight.
For more information about how to properly use a full-body harness and other hunting safety tips, click here.
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 Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.