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Official Montana Hunting Safety Course Link to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Hello, hunter! Montana's online hunting course has moved. Click here to go to the latest version of the Today's Hunter in Montana course—the official hunting safety course of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The following course material is for reference only. Please go to the new course to complete your Montana certification.

Fall-Arrest Systems (FAS)

You should use a fall-arrest system (FAS) that is manufactured to TMA standards. Never use single-strap belts and chest harnesses—they can be deadly. Before hunting, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use of your FAS and follow all safety guidelines. Due to the risks of injury or death, hunters who choose not to wear and use their FAS properly should stay on the ground to hunt.

  • Full-body harnessAlways use a properly fitting FAS that includes a full-body harness while climbing a tree, installing a tree stand that uses climbing aids, and hunting from a tree stand.
  • Make sure your FAS includes these components:
    • Full-body harness—the vest harness is a very effective style of full-body harness
    • Lineman’s-style belt and/or climbing belt—used when climbing up and down the tree
    • Tree strap—goes around the tree
    • Tether—attaches the harness to the tree strap
    • Suspension relief strap—provides a loop to stand in if you fall
  • With an adult present, practice adjusting and using your FAS at ground level before hunting from an elevated stand. Also practice using the suspension relief strap.
  • Discard any FAS that shows signs of wear and tear or has been worn during a fall. Also adhere to the expiration date sewn into the FAS by the manufacturer.

Protection from Falling

To protect yourself in case you fall, always wear your FAS, attaching it to the tree while at ground level and keeping it attached throughout your hunt.

  • When you are installing or climbing into or out of a tree stand, attach your FAS to the tree with a lineman’s-style belt or a climbing belt.
    • Use a lineman’s-style belt when you are installing a hang-on tree stand, a climbing aid for a hang-on stand, or a ladder stand. Also use the lineman’s-style belt in conjunction with your harness, tree strap, and tether when you are climbing into or out of a hang-on stand.
    • Use a climbing belt when you are using a climbing stand, a hang-on stand, or a climbing aid for a hang-on stand.
  • Use the lineman’s-style belt in conjunction with your harness, tree strap, and tether when you are climbing into or out of a hang-on stand.
  • When you are in any type of tree stand, including a ladder stand, use the tree strap and tether to attach your FAS to the tree. If you fall, you do not want to drop below a level that would keep you from climbing back onto the platform.
    • Attach the FAS tree strap to the tree so that the strap is at, or above, head level when you are standing.
    • After attaching the tether, adjust both the tree strap and tether so that you have no slack in the tether while seated in your stand.
  • If you should fall while you are in your stand:
    • Do not panic. Your FAS will hold you.
    • Signal for help.
    • Get back onto the platform as quickly as possible.
    • Take actions to avoid suspension trauma if you cannot get onto the platform or the ground. If you do not have a suspension relief strap, moving your legs continuously by pushing off from the tree may keep your blood flowing.
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Official hunting safety course for Montana hunters last modified: November 16, 2011
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