One of the most popular pieces of equipment used by deer hunters is a treestand, and treestand related accidents are among the leading cause of injury to hunters. When hauling a large amount of gear up a tree onto a platform that is anywhere from 10-30 feet off of the ground, and sometimes higher, the risk of falling cannot be eliminated. Such falls can often lead to serious internal injuries, brain injury, spinal cord damage or death.
It is hard to know exactly how many hunters are injured in treestand accidents every year, for many reasons: not all accidents are reported, not everyone seeks medical attention, lack of standardized reporting, varying state regulations and the absence of national data collection. CED investigations consider mechanical failure and/or hunter misuse as proximate cause of a treestand accident. Whatever the cause, proper use a full-body harness would have prevented serious injury.
The Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) in Hattiesburg, MS is the entity recognized by the Consumer Products Safety Commission that establishes industry standards for treestands and harnesses.A joint study by the two groups found that 82 percent of hunters who reported being injured in tree stand falls were not wearing a safety harness. Wearing a harness is essential because no hunter can control all the circumstances that might cause a fall. Use of home-made treestands or stands that don’t meet TMA standards can increase risk, but “the single-most important thing that a hunter can do to prevent a treestand accident is wear a full body harness,” says John Louk, the executive director of the TMA.