One of the best advantages a hunter can get when hunting whitetail deer is doing so from an elevated position. In most hunting scenarios, to achieve this elevated height, it is easiest to do so with a tree stand. Modern tree stands are very safe when used the proper way. Follow all manufactures guidelines on care and upkeep of your tree stand. Failure to do so can result in serious injury or death. To help prevent injury from tree stand accidents, follow these safety guidelines.

Get familiar with your equipment

Read and follow all factory recommended procedures concerning your tree stand. Practice using your stand on a tree close to the ground to help you to become more comfortable with the mechanics and functions of the stand. I always keep all related safety equipment in a bag attached to the stand. You do not want to make it to your hunting spot before you realize you have left key safety parts behind. It is in times like these that hunters decide to skip key safety steps. The decision to hunt unsafe might just be your last.

Always use your safety equipment

Use a safety harness when hunting from elevated tree stands. Again read and follow all recommended procedures. Never use a rope to replace your safety belt portion that is attached to the tree. I recommend a full body harness. In the event of a fall while wearing a full body harness your body will be facing straight up. If you are properly attached to the tree you would only fall 8 to 10 inches. This will allow you to easily pull yourself back up onto your stand.

Never carry equipment with you while climbing

Use a haul line to raise or lower your gear. Make sure guns and crossbows are unloaded before raising or lowering them from the ground. Make sure your haul line is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of a gun, crossbow, and any other gear you plan to pull up to your stand.

Check permanent tree stands every year before hunting

Do not use homemade tree stands. These stands are not only difficult to move when deer change their trails, but these stands often deteriorate quickly and often are unsafe even when newly installed. Remember that weakened wooden steps and stands can kill and cripple hunters. Even pressure treated wood gets slippery overtime. Read and understand recommended procedures when installing commercial stands. Straps or chains sometimes are recommended to be changed in as little as 12 months of use. When installing never put all your weight on a single branch. Keep at least one hand and one foot on a secure place when reaching for the next hold. Climb higher than the stand and step down onto it. Climbing up onto it can dislodge it and cause accidents. Each time you hunt from a permanent stand make a visual check to confirm everything is in its place.

Know the Rules

On public land in most states it is illegal to place nails or other hardware into trees, or to build permanent structures, such as tree stands, platforms and blinds. On private land always get the landowners permission before you cut limbs, remove trees or alter their landscape in any way.

Check portable tree stands before hunting

Inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts before each use. Make sure to choose only healthy, living trees when using climbing devices. Rough-barked trees are always best. It gives the teeth and straps on your stand something to grab onto. Do not use a tree that is rotten or has dead limbs. Don't go too high. The likelihood of a serious injury escalates if you fall from high up. Usually, 15 to 20 feet is high enough to give the hunter an advantage above the whitetails line of sight.

Use updated equipment

You might save a few bucks on an older used tree stand but you are putting your health at risk. Tree stand equipment manufactured today is solid, safe and secure. The $50 you save on a harness or stand will not help you much when it comes to calculating your hospital or burial expenses.

Plan ahead

Tell a dependable person where you're hunting and when you plan to return. Map your whereabouts and leave a note at camp, at home or in your vehicle so that you can be found in case of an emergency. If your like me you already carry enough equipment into the woods. But i also think it would be wise to have a whistle, first aid kit, good flashlight and cell phone just in case of an emergency situation.

A successful hunt always coincides with a safe hunt. Safety should be your number one priority when going on a hunting trip. Always remember safety first.