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Harness Up Before You Go Up


Editor’s Note: This is the most-important article you'll read this hunting season that can save your life, keep you from losing 1 week to 6 months of work, save you thousands of dollars and prevent pain and suffering for many years. The longer you’ve hunted from a tree stand, the more likely that you’ll fall. We all think of tree stand accidents happening during hunting season, but this week we’ll look at three people who work with and shoot video for the Mossy Oak Pros Mark and Terry Drury of Drury Outdoors, who have fallen before the season. Part of the reason they fell was they believed they were bullet-proof from tree stand accidents.

Since my fall, I'm a total believer in having life lines on every tree stand from which I hunt. If I'm going into a new area to hunt, or if I'm hunting with an outfitter or a friend who already has set up tree stands, the first thing I ask is, “What type of stand will I be hunting from - a ladder stand, a box stand, a ground blind, a climbing tree stand and/or a fixed-position tree stand?” Next I ask, “Does the stand have a life line on it?” I always carry two or three life lines with me when I’m hunting from a stand that I haven’t hung myself. If I'll be hunting from the same stand for more than one afternoon or morning, I leave the life line hanging by the stand until I leave. If I don’t use a life line before I leave the ground, I make sure I have the strap on my Muddy Safety Harness wrapped around the tree. I move the strap up as I climb the tree and come down. Once in the stand, I attach the strap to the tree. I’ve found that the more experienced hunters fall either putting up, taking down or while sitting in a tree stand. I think the reason we fall is that we have so much experience hunting from tree stands, and we've never had any bad experiences. We think whenever will fall. We say to ourselves, “I'm not going to fall. I haven’t fallen out of a tree stand in the last 10 or 20 years.” We become over confident in our own abilities, and we don’t follow the safety rules that we always preach to others. I had my safety harness with me before I went up a tree and fell. I just didn’t take those 2 minutes required to put the safety harness on and attach myself to the tree. Up until that day, I never had gone up and down a tree without my safety harness on and attached to the tree. But in this preseason, when I was checking stands and cutting shooting lanes, I didn’t think to put on my safety harness.

Harness_day5All three of the hunters who’ve been interviewed about falling from trees this week, fell when they were checking tree stands before the season. I believe we may think about wearing our safety harnesses when we’re hunting. However, before the season, after the season and when we’re moving tree stands, perhaps we tend to get a little sloppy and forget to wear our safety harnesses. When you're cutting shooting lanes or checking tree stands, you’re much more likely to fall than when you're sitting still in a tree stand. But for some reason, hunters often don’t remember that fact. 

Editor’s Note: The only insurance you have today to prevent a tree stand accident and severe injury is your safety harness and life line. These two items are the cheapest insurance you'll ever buy. If you don’t use them every time you leave the ground to get into a tree stand, you're in harm’s way. So, learn from these avid hunters about what can happen, if you don’t take that extra 2-3 minutes to harness up before you go up. 

To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.”  You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone.

For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

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