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Marion Larson

Marion Larson

Outreach Coordinator, MassWildlife

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Tree stand photo

During October and November, Bay State archers hunting deer are perched in treestands, waiting for a deer to walk by within range. During the shotgun and black powder deer season in December, some deer hunters will also be found waiting patiently for their quarry in a treestand. Wildlife photographers also take to the trees in hopes of capturing images of elusive wildlife.

This photo was taken during a training workshop I attended for volunteer hunter education instructors. We were learning the safest way to set up different treestands and how to emphasize these safe practices in the courses we teach during the year.

Using a tree stand while photographing/watching wildlife or hunting game is a safe, recreational activity. By using common sense, treestand use by outdoor users will stay that way.

Anyone using a treestand needs to be mindful that falls from treestands can result in serious injuries and sometimes even death. Treestand safety has evolved over the years as new research and statistics become available. According the MassWildlife Hunter Education Program, treestands and placement methods that were once considered to be 'safe' equipment and practices 10 years ago are simply not considered 'safe' today.

Follow the safety tips below from the Hunter Education Program and the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) to avoid becoming an accident statistic!

  • ALWAYS wear a Full Body Harness/Fall Arrest System (FAS) meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent. Single strap belts and chest harnesses should NOT be used.
  • ALWAYS read and follow the manufacturer's warnings and instructions before using the treestand each season. Practice with the treestand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions. Never exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer.
  • ALWAYS inspect the treestand and the Fall Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use.
  • ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level.
  • ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer.
  • ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Let others know your exact hunting or photography location, when you plan to return and who is with you.
  • ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even if you are suspended in your FAS.
  • ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended for your treestand. Use three people to set-up any ladder-type treestand.
  • ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your equipment, bow or unloaded firearm to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height.
  • ALWAYS know your physical limitations. If you start thinking about how high you are, don't go any higher.
  • NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated stands or make modifications to a purchased treestand.
  • NEVER hurry!! While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time.

Details on the tree stand safety tips.

Take an online Treestand Safety Course! A 15-minute interactive, narrated treestand safety course to learn about the latest Treestand Manufacturers Association's safety standards and guidelines.

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