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PostPosted: December 13th, 2014, 10:47 am 
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A thread on another site got me thinking about tree stand falls, failures and safety measures that are used to prevent them. I thought that with the experience here it would be a good topic to talk about considering the mount of time we spend on elevated platforms.
To begin, I have been in a stand when both cables snapped due to rust. Fortunately I was wearing a harness and I fell to the proper side of the tree, allowing me to get onto my climbing sticks pretty easily. That was not by accident, as when in a lockon stand I always set my safety line to the side of the tree that my steps or climbing sticks are on.

I also always try to make sure my last step is equal to or above the stand height, and never try to space my steps where I have to stretch while climbing.

I am sure there are other safety measures that some of you have that could help us all in future hunts, and I am looking forward to seeing some!

David


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PostPosted: December 13th, 2014, 12:02 pm 
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Excellent discussion idea. I saw somewhere that Kev Bahr and Mark Wang are using the asending lines with the prussic knots. I suspect that is a really good idea and have done a minute amount of consideration to building a bunch of them.

I saw somewhere that the Gorilla stands are prone to dumping people on the ground but I didn't see mention of the root cause. Steve O, have an opinion?

In the early days I had a stand with a turnbuckle. I got down once and discovered it was towards the ends of the threads, dough! Close call.

I know some people just leave stands up year after year and I have to believe that is a bad idea.

One problem is when you hunt a buddies setup and he didn't really use PIA (premeditated intelligent aforethought) when using the common sense ideas David mentioned above like steps too far apart, the stand too far above the last step; setups that require gymnastics to climb aboard.


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PostPosted: December 13th, 2014, 1:01 pm 
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I'm slowly getting away from using tree steps. They seem to eventually kill the poplars I hunt out of. I've had them pull out of the softer wood too. Good thing I was never too high off the ground. I make narrow ladder sections that bolt together in either 8 or 10ft sections. I'm scared of strap on climbing sticks. They don't feel as secure to me. I only use them on the bottom to reach green branches of Spruce tree sets.

I try to set up with another tree with in arms reach. Both for extra cover and balance/support while on stand.

3 or 4 years ago I started using a Hunter Safety vest. I can't believe I just tied myself in with rope for so many years. This year I started using ascending lines with prussic knots. It is comforting to know there is a safety factor now if I slip. I'm getting up in age and don't bounce too good anymore.

I also prefer ladder stands in certain locations.

Steve, I'm guilty of leaving stands out year after year. I have about two dozen. Actually discovered one scouting before the season that I had forgot in a clump of spruce trees. I had to cut the chain with a bolt cutters to get it loose. I try to keep notes on my phone about squeaks or moving stands and make changes in the spring when out looking for sheds.
Good point David about having the last step height.

Something else I want to try is converting my homemade screaming eagle knock-offs into the Chippewa wedge loc system. Much easier to hang IMO.


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PostPosted: December 13th, 2014, 1:21 pm 
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Great thought David. I know a few guys that took a tumble out of a stand, two of which could have been prevented with a safety harness!! They feel asleep and fell out of their stands. Both broke their necks, one was a quadriplegic and the other was very VERY lucky.

I use a climber much of the time. Not all climbers suit all hunters. Try to find one that you're comfortable using. When I climb a tree with a climber, I attach my harness and move it up as I climb. Regardless of the stand that I use, I make sure that there are no dead limbs hanging above me and that the tree its self is alive. When I hang a "loc on" style stand, I try to place it in a tree with multiple trunks or with a large branch under the platform. With multiple trunks, I can place the steps on one and the stand on another making me feel a little safer stepping on to the platform. Multiple trunks also work well as cover.


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PostPosted: December 13th, 2014, 6:50 pm 
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Steve, the stand that gave way on me was a Gorilla. I am very leery of them now. Like you, I have given thought to an ascending line and Prussic knot, just haven't done it yet.
Guy, I agree with you regarding screw in steps, especially in softwoods. I had a friend have one let go when he was about ten steps up, it was in a dead pine. On his trip down the remaining steps ripped his groin open, not pretty.
Good point on the gyrations of trying to get in others guys stands. I hunted with a friend in NY a few years ago. He brought me to a stand in a giant oak, the stand was about 35 feet high, and you got into it by climbing screw I steps, the single piece big bow hook looking ones. I got ten feet up, climbed down and said no way. Two weeks later one of those steps gave way when he was 22 feet up.

So, as mentioned, no dead trees or softwoods, esp with screw in steps. Like Sean I find myself using and feeling much more comfortable using my Lone Wolf climber.
Another thing I really think that should be mentioned........using limbs for handholds and steps, I don't think anything good can come from doing that on a regular basis.

David


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PostPosted: December 13th, 2014, 9:49 pm 
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My opinion is not to try to save a buck on a POS stand made in China when you are trusting your life to it.

Buy American and buy bulletproof quality when you buy a treestand. Saving $100 won't seem like such a great idea if you get lucky (not dying) and live the rest of your life in a wheelchair. My son and I spent the first four days of the Michigan firearms season helping track and drag at a local non ambulatory hunt and many of the participants ended up that way from Chinese treestands.


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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 8:46 am 
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In my opinion there are some POS stands made right here in North America, too. Don't let the country of origin determine quality of product, and do evaluate for yourself. I've owned plenty of stands originating from Asia and they have held up very well for many years. Care and maintenance is key. Most of the better name brands have excellent product histories and reviews. That said, I've got a strong recommendation for anyone looking at a new hang-on stand. Family Traditions.

The name is nothing new. Located in Michigan. I own some of their Lock-On models and they are truly a big, tough and sturdy stand. All steel, welded, mesh platform, chains (no cables), double ratcheting attachments, and a seat that will never fail or need padding. They are as heavy as hang-ons get, and are no picnic to install. If you like to move your stands around a lot, this one will test your will. I don't jump my stands around during season, so it's a non-issue to me. Strongest and quietest stand I've ever been in for my lifetime. Less money than a Lone Wolf or other premium $250+ stands.

I like treesteps just fine and have used them for 30+ years. I just play it safe with them. I'm moving away from the ones I used to use and replacing with EzyClimb Rod (type) screw-in steps. I happen to think EzyClimb is tops in their product categories.

I've used Rapid Rails for years and had a love/hate relationship there. Love the ease of climbing, but hate the frequent 'clink', 'pop' and noises they make. To that end, I recently fitted some rails with 1-1/4" rubber chair tips which really helped quiet them down. Rails are great, but it occurs to me that (unless I climb with a secondary backup safety line) my life is hanging by a single piece of 1" webbing.


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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 9:11 am 
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I never leave stands from year to year always take them down and inspect and service them.
Been there done that with going to buddies places to hunt stands just to find out should have brought my own, and now I do ,but never complained about the set ups .
I ways use double ratchet straps on the strap models and check them before climbing in .
Stands put fore the season I like the climbing sticks that are continues like the security of holding the center piece when climbing and always tied at each section over the main beam .
Thinking about switching to cable for bow pulls darn squirrels :roll: ,how many of you have arrived at your stand in the dark and found that the squirrels needed the rope for something else .
That's the only reason I haven't started using the ascending lines their to expensive for squirrels to chew up ,it would mean War on them.
Safety systems a must ! these days same Don't bounce any more .

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Last edited by Melvin F. Gregoire on December 14th, 2014, 9:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 9:11 am 
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I had a screw in step pull out on me once. I ended with a 7 inch gash across my left armpit and up the front of my shoulder, luckily there was no major blood vessel or nerve damage. Needless to say I do not use screw in steps any more. Like Gun I use ladder stands or narrow ladders with hang on stands. Like David said you do not want to have to step up to your stand. I made that mistake about 3 weeks ago. I started up on the wrong foot to end up with my left foot even with the stand and I had to step up to the stand. I have done this before without any problem, but not this time. I ended up with a 75% tear of my right quad tendon and a torn meniscus. I now have a 6 inch cut and 24 stitches across my right knee from making the repair. I also ended up with my left knee jammed between the stand and the tree with my left foot still on the ladder. It was quite a chore to get loose and get back to the ground. My left knee still has a knot on the inside and the skin is coming back on the out side. Don't believe it can't happen to you, it will happen so quick.
Jack


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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 9:36 am 
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Jack I am sorry to hear that, and hope you fully heal. It does show how quick it can happen.
Kevin, i I'll look at those stands, I am always looking for quality products, and happen to believe that you normally get what you pay for.
I have been using climbing sticks for the last couple of years, and while I feel pretty comfortable with them, there are still issues with them. I almost fell two weeks ago climbing into a stand due to icy steps. I have always been a proponent of having three contact points while climbing, that's what saved me there.
When not using my climber I am seriously considering ladder stands or a continuos
ladder to get I to my loc ons. While being a little more cumbersome and less mobile, I would certainly feel safer.

David


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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 10:16 am 
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Tracey fell in the mid 90's as she was climbing out of a stand after a long sit which is where most falls tend to happen. Step placement is a must to help that from happening. Climbing sticks I think are much better than screw in steps. They give a better grip when climbing. We also use lifelines from HSS on all of our stands they are great and you will never feel safer. If you don't want to buy them they can be easly made. Inspect all your straps and stands every year

Don't get cheap when it comes to safety your family needs you coming home safely everyday.


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Last edited by David Balowski on December 14th, 2014, 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 10:17 am 
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Jack Denbow wrote:
I had a screw in step pull out on me once. I ended with a 7 inch gash across my left armpit and up the front of my shoulder, luckily there was no major blood vessel or nerve damage. Needless to say I do not use screw in steps any more. Like Gun I use ladder stands or narrow ladders with hang on stands. Like David said you do not want to have to step up to your stand. I made that mistake about 3 weeks ago. I started up on the wrong foot to end up with my left foot even with the stand and I had to step up to the stand. I have done this before without any problem, but not this time. I ended up with a 75% tear of my right quad tendon and a torn meniscus. I now have a 6 inch cut and 24 stitches across my right knee from making the repair. I also ended up with my left knee jammed between the stand and the tree with my left foot still on the ladder. It was quite a chore to get loose and get back to the ground. My left knee still has a knot on the inside and the skin is coming back on the out side. Don't believe it can't happen to you, it will happen so quick.
Jack

Jack keep in touch with Tracey and I and let us know how you are doing

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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 8:50 pm 
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Will do David. I see doc tomorrow and should get the stitches out and start PT on Tuesday.
Jack


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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 10:22 pm 
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If you ever get the chance take the IBEP Tree Stand Safety course. It will help you learn how to rig the fall restraint system, and give you a chance to "fall" out of a stand and how to recover and return to the stand or descend to the ground.
I am one of several IBEP Instructors in Alabama that is certified to teach the course. Well worth the time. I am usually the instructor that gets to demo this part of the course. Then we let the students give it a try. Its always better to know what to do before this happens, rather than learn by experience.
Be careful out there, because it can happen to you, in less than a heart beat.

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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 10:31 pm 
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If you are wondering about the quality and safety of tree stands check out the Treestand Manufacturers Association at www.tmastands.com

They test a lot of stands and have their findings listed. if you're wondering about a stand, look it up on their site. If its not listed, I'd be very cautious about purchasing it.

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PostPosted: December 14th, 2014, 11:04 pm 
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In 1992 I lost a close friend to a tree stand failure. He was in his early 20's just out of college and he was an only child. He and his dad run a fabrication shop together in Illinois. I held his hand and said good by in an ICU room. No brain activity and a drip of blood in his ear. His mother and dad sobbing in the hallway outside the room. A powerful memory that hurts to write about today.

Scott had become interested in bow hunting years before we met and at a young age had built his own tree stands. Scott grew into a large man and at the time of our meeting he was building stands similar to the screaming eagle stands of the day. I was an aircraft technician and I was prone to critical judgments of anything safety related. Scott had a Good design and his manufacturing skills were very good.

However he still had some of the old stands out in a section of woods that had not been used or inspected for years. He hunted one of those stands on that fateful night and the chain retention provision failed. Scott fell some 18 feet to his death and so many lives would never be he same.

My wife and girls felt a huge void as Scott had spent so much time with us. I learned the true meaning of responsibility and became super critical of everything I did in the woods. I had bad dreams and doubted that I could ever enjoy bowhunting again.

In time I was able to put things into perspective and move on, but I would never again climb a tree without thinking of Scott. I made changes in the way I used tree stands and safety equipment. I did not trust any manufacturer of tree stands and I chose to build my own long ago so I could control the materials processes and corrosion control. I refined my designs further and found the best safety restraint systems of the day.

I finished my 39th year of whitetail hunting this year. Since Scott's death I've raised one daughter to bow hunt with me, causing my approach to tree stands to evolve to ladder styles to make things safer for her. I presently use a combination of a special ladders of my own design and sturdy chain on tree stands that will serve my from here on out until I quit climbing trees.

Like most people that have chosen to take ownership of a process, I've become opinionated and critical of anything that I don't believe to fit with my idea of safety.

Lets talk about the word ownership. Better yet, owning a skill. A guy or gal that decides to become a bow hunter has to begin to learn and own skills to be successful. One of those skills is safely installing and using a tree stand. A person new to stand hunting should be mentored to learn best installation practices for the type of stand and safety equipment. He / she should also be taught to recognize unsafe conditions.

One thing I learned about aviation accidents , or any accident for that matter is that it usually takes a series of events to cause it.

Scott made a bad choice in using that old stand. Had he considered the effects of time weather tree growth maybe he would have been more critical of it's condition or decide to hang a new stand. That was his primary method of fall protection failing, his brain. His secondary protection in the form of a fall restraint device was not in use. Scott had set off a chain of events that took his life.

Seams so simple doesn't it. Another dumb kid that didn't wear his safety belt trying to hunt out of an old home made tree stand. That's what people who didn't know Scott might think or say.

I knew Scott to be an enthusiastic, full of life, bullet proof young man strong as an Ox, never beaten as heavy weight wrestler. I also knew his passion for the whitetail rut and how that location was going to be the hot ticket that night. Scott was human like all of us. He made mistakes. Like all of us.

I have Scotts picture close by my chair. It's after dark. He's got a big Illinois whitetail by the antlers, black widow recurve by his side, the snow is falling. I took that picture. Scott died needlessly but by God he didn't die in vain.

My advice to everyone on the subject of tree stand safety:

Don't take design or safety for granted. Ask yourself what ifs? What if one cable broke? would the other hold. What if a squirrel chewed the blind side of your retention strap? What if this weld broke? Would the rest still hold? what if someone decided to sabotage my stand? How much pressure will that tree put on my strap or chain if it grows for a year? How much force do I put on a harness in a free fall from a given height? Will my harness stand it? What about ice? Mud? Where should I attach my strap so that if I fall I can reach the tree? Do I have a suspension trauma strap provision in case I have to spend considerable time suspended? Can I get to my cell phone if I fall? Do I have sharp or pointed objects in my vest or pocket that could be forced into me by my harness if I fall? Where's my bow and arrows gonna go if I fall?

The list is endless, but the single most important thing to remember is to Use your brain! Don't allow a chain of events to reduce you to a memory.


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PostPosted: December 15th, 2014, 8:15 am 
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Thanks for the link Johnny, that should help all of us.

Duane, I read your post twice last night and again this morning before commenting. I am truly sorry for your loss, and if writing about it gives one person pause to think about what they are doing before climbing a tree then it is worth it. Thank you for sharing.
One of the things that sticks out is your statement about the area being "the hot ticket that night".
As hunters, we are all looking for the spot that gives us the best opportunity at a given time. I know for a fact I have tried to climb trees I never should have because I just knew I would kill a deer if I was in that particular tree at that time. My judgement was clouded because I was focusing on results. Most of those came during late season hunts when I was wearing a lot of clothes, inhibiting my mobility, along with unsafe conditions such as ice.
I approaching 60 years now, with two kids still in high school, my intentions from here on are to be as safe as possible when climbing a tree. I OWE that to my family.

David


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PostPosted: December 15th, 2014, 9:57 am 
When I was still working as a game warden over the years I investigated several tree stand accidents and many moons ago wrote an article about them that was published in Bowhunter Magazine. I'm still serving on the NBEF Board so tree stand safety in always in the forefront of my mind. My stands now are all ladder stands (getting to old to play monkey and put up portable stands if I can help it) and every one of them has a lifeline with them. I attach my full body harness to the lifeline before ascending and only unhook when I'm back on the ground. Complacency is a factor many don't think about. Years of constant use of any tree stand, without incident, can lull a person into the dangerous mindset/situation of "it can't happen to me - it's always the other guy".

Always, always, think about what you are doing. Prior to the season check your stands for things that may go wrong - worn attachments, frayed cables, etc. As someone else mentioned if you're using portable stands always place the last one you step on just above the stand and also have a step screwed in about head level. With this method you are stepping down onto the stand but still have one foot on a step plus having one hand grasping the head level step. That way you have two points of attachment in case the stand gives way when you're putting your weight on it.


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PostPosted: December 15th, 2014, 10:00 am 
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It is scary to think of some of the unsafe things myself and others did in our younger days before the advent of quality treestands. Many tree stands consisted of free hand climbing up a tree using only branches and then standing on tree limbs with no proper safety belt. I have no idea how we kept from killing ourselves. I leave my stands up year round. It is way too much work to take down and rehang 25 stands each year, especially when you have to do it yourself with no help. Ladder stands are very difficult for one person to set up unless you are using one of the cheap ones that is only 12 feet off the ground. Each year at the end of the season I loosed belts and chains and then reset them just prior to season opener. This year I started putting new ratchet straps on my older stands that have the web belts. I use climbing ropes in my highest stands and ones that are difficult to climb. As I get older and less agile I question how high I want to set a stand and whether I feel it is safe enough to climb in and out without being a world-class gymnast. Finally, I carry a cell phone and keep it in my pant pocket just in case I take a tumble.


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PostPosted: December 15th, 2014, 10:02 am 
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After reading on another site what Ryan Rothharr did with his hang on stands, I went about and did the same with mine. I put galvanize chains on just about all of my hang on type of stands. I then painted them with hunters green rustoleum paint. Here are a few pics of one of my stands that have the chains installed. After having one fall from a treestand a number of years ago, and thank God with no injuries, it's makes you think of safety much more often than not. Be safe out there.

Tony
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