On average, tree stands are between 15-20 feet high. When a hunter is exposed to such heights, the consequences of a fall can be deadly. The side effects of a fall include brain damage, fractures, paralyzation, and even death. With all of those aspects in mind, it is extremely important to wear a safety harness while suspended at heights in a tree stand.
Selecting the Proper Safety Harness for Tree Stand Use
A variety of different factors go into selecting the proper safety harness for your tree stand. Some of those factors include, type of tree stand used, different types of hunting safety harnesses, body type, and mobility. All of these aspects should be considered when selecting a hunting safety harness.
Different Types of Tree Stands
There are three (3) different types of tree stands. They are hang-on stands, ladder stands, and self-climbing stands. Hang-on stands are a suspended platform that are secure to trees by belts or straps. These stands are typically accessed by steps inputted into the tree.
Ladder stands combine a platform and ladder, and are typically the safest option when selecting tree stands. Self-climbing stands allow the hunter to scale up the tree, and allow for the hunter to easily switch from tree to tree. Self-climbing stands and hang-on stands are the stands that hunters have the highest risk of falling from. To select the proper hunting safety harness, you must first ensure what type of tree stand you are using.
Once you have identified the type of tree stand you are hunting with, it is now time to select the proper safety harness. There are a wide variety of different safety harnesses to choose from, but they should be selected by comfort and mobility level, ease of use, and price.
Comfort and Mobility
Comfort and mobility are an important factor to consider when selecting the correct safety harness. A hunter wants to ensure that nothing is going to get in the way of bagging that trophy buck. Mobility is especially important for archery hunters, because more motion is involved when drawing back and shooting a composite bow. Comfort typically relates to how well the harness fits, along with the weight of the harness.
To ensure comfort and mobility, a hunter must first understand their body type. Hunting safety harnesses come in all different shapes and sizes, just like all people come in different shapes and sizes. Typically, harnesses come in 4 different sizes: youth, small/medium, large/xl, and 2xl/3xl. Most of the time, these sizes can be directly related to your shirt size.
Top 5 Best Safety Harnesses
How to Ensure Your Hunting Safety Harness Fits Properly
Once you have selected the proper size, it is now time to customize your hunting safety harness to your body. Almost all harnesses come with adjustable straps. Below are some steps to follow when putting on safety harnesses.
- Pick the harness up by the anchor point and shake it. This will allow for all the straps to become untangled, and you will get a general idea of the design of the harness.
- Inspect the harness. Each time before using a harness, it should be inspected for any defects such as wear, tear, or cut straps. If your harness is damaged, it is time to get a new one. You should never try and repair a harness, once the integrity of the support systems are damaged, it is time for a new one.
- Put on the harness. Put the shoulder straps on first, they should remain vertical and evenly spaced on the chest. Connect the chest straps in the middle. Now it is time for the leg straps. Grab the buckles from between your legs and connect the buckle. Be sure to stand in a normal position to see what needs to be adjusted.
- Adjust the harness. Now it is time to make sure there are no loose straps throughout the different areas of your body. The chest strap should go across the mid to upper region of the chest. Ensure the straps are tightened snug. For the leg straps, tighten them so that your hand can go in between the straps and your leg, but not your first. You do not want to harness to be excessively tight.
- Tuck in and secure all excess straps. You do not want excessive straps to be exposed after adjusting to the proper fit.
- Anchor the harness. This is a key step to ensure the harness actually stops you from falling to the ground. The two most common types of anchoring systems for hunting safety harnesses are fall restraint systems and fall protection lanyards. A restraint system prevents a fall from occurring in the first place. A fall protection lanyard is meant to stop you from hitting the ground once a fall occurs. The recommended type would be a fall restraint system.
Anchoring the Safety Harness to a Tree
The anchor point is a key component of tree stand safety. If you do not have your harness properly anchored, then you are no better off than wearing no harness at all! As previously mentioned, there are two different main types of anchoring devices when it comes to securing your harness to a tree. They are fall restraint devices and fall protection lanyards. An example of a fall restraint device would be a self-retractable lifeline. These lifelines recognize a sudden change of weight on the device, and lock up before the fall occurs. These are highly recommended. Check it out here. One of the best ways to have a permanent anchor is to used an approved tie-around strap that connects to a tree, like this one.
Overall, it is important to understand that when you are hunting in a tree stand, you should always wear a safety harness that properly fits, and is anchored to the tree. I have heard countless stories about people falling out of a tree stand and it having a permanent effect on their lives. Personally, I have fallen asleep accidentally in a tree stand, but I had my safety harness on as a security blanket. You want to make sure you are safe and secure so you can enjoy the hunt to its full potential!