Mossy Oak's Dudley Phelps offers 6 tips for being safe and secure when hanging a tree stand or hunting from a tree stand.
The number one safety rule when hanging a tree stand or hunting from a tree stand is being connected to the tree at all times. When climbing a tree to place a tree stand, use a lineman's belt as you go up. Once you get to the top, place your safety line. You can adjust your safety line with a prusik knot that you can slide up as you go. You need to be connected if your feet leave the ground. Period.
What Is a Prusik Knot?
Likely developed by climbers or military, a prusik knot allows you to slide up and down a rope, but when you put pressure on it, it locks up. It's a convenient knot to use on your deer stand setup. You loop the prusik knot around your safety line three times, making three clean loops on the rope. The tag end needs to be at least an inch and a half long, with a tight overhand knot. Be sure you test it out before going up.
Using a Lineman's Belt When Hanging a New Tree Stand
You can go up and down a tree freely, bottom to top, with a lineman's belt. You can slide the belt up as you go and lean back, so it will hold you up and allow for hands-free work when putting up a tree stand. If you don't have a lifeline, this is the next best method for getting up and down a tree without one.
Using a Lifeline or Safety Line
The safest way to get up and down a tree without having to be unhooked is a lifeline or safety line. It's a static rope rated for climbing, Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) certified, that comes equipped with a prusik knot or two. Use your lineman's belt to put the safety line in place and it will be there for the next hunts.
What to Look For When Checking Stands
It's important to double check any stand setup, especially those you didn't hang, before climbing. Is the tree alive? Does it look like it's stressed or dying? Mushrooms, bug chaff and sparse or no leaves are evidence that a tree is not in good shape. Next, look at the ladder of the stand. Does it look aged, molded or cracked? Are the straps dry rotted or digging into the tree? Even in what appears to be a mild issue, do not climb that stand. It needs to be marked or removed.
Sharing Your Location
Before you go into the woods hunting, let somebody know where you are. Tell your spouse, drop a pin send a text and make sure they respond. If you're hunting with a buddy, use the sign in to let them know where you are going. If you decide to go hunt another location, make that known as well. It's really important that someone knows where you are, so if something happens you can be located. No matter what safety precautions you use, there's always a chance you may need the help of someone else.