These are the keys to using a tree stand safely.

  1. Pick a safe tree. Your tree should be alive, fairly straight, and very stable.

  2. Assemble your stand according to manufacturer instructions; bring the instructions with you to double-check as you go. Use a lineman’s-style belt or climbing belt during setup.

  3. Inspect your stand to ensure everything is in working order—every time you use it.

  4. Stay connected—always. Wear a full-body safety harness and use a lifeline the whole time you are off the ground.

  5. Carry a communication device like a cell phone in case of an emergency, and use the buddy system.

Before you leave the ground, watch the video below to make sure you’re following tree stand safety rules.

When selecting a tree for your tree stand, choose carefully. Look for a straight tree within the size limits of your tree stand, in the area in which you plan on hunting.

Always use your fall-arrest system (FAS), which should include a full-body harness, a lineman’s-style belt or climbing belt, a tree strap, a tether, a suspension-relief strap, and a lifeline. Remember, the FAS needs to be rated for your hunting weight, which is your weight plus the weight of your hunting equipment and gear.

Tree stands are a great tool for hunters, but you have to use them safely!
Remember…
Set up your stand where you know the game you’re hunting will be. You can use a trail camera or look for animal signs when looking to place your stand for your hunt. Remember, don’t leave a permanent stand in a public hunting area.

Elmer Fudd

Image source: http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Elmer_Fudd


He is one of the most famous hunters in the world, with his many hunting trips broadcast to TVs and movie theaters around the world—for more than 75 years! Though it’s true that he began his on-screen hunting before hunting education began, we think he especially could benefit from a bit of safety education.
Elmer Fudd, sir, perhaps you should take a hunter safety course. Here are a few reasons why:
1)   Wear enough blaze orange to be safe.
While it appears you do wear at least a token amount of blaze orange on the side of your hunting cap and at the neck of your collar, that’s nowhere near enough to be truly safe!
State regulations vary, but it’s generally recommended that you wear a daylight fluorescent orange had and daylight fluorescent orange outerwear, such as a shirt, vest, or jacket. This makes it easier for other hunters to see you, helping minimize accidents (you seem to have a lot of accidents!).
2) Watch that muzzle!
You’ll have fewer accidents if you follow the four primary rules of hunting safety:

  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
  • Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun.
  • Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it.
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot.

Not to be disrespectful, Mr. Fudd, but you regularly violate these essential rules almost every time you appear on screen. A hunter’s education course will help you really understand why these rules are so important!
3) Practice safe field carries.
While you’re in the field, in order to follow that first rule of firearm safety (keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times!) you need to have good control of your firearm. Hunter safety will teach you several safe field carries. As you often carry a break-action rifle, perhaps you would be comfortable with a cradle carry?
4) Know your quarry.
Undoubtedly you have a lot of experience pursuing that big rabbit (and sometimes that mouthy duck), but how well do you really know your quarry? For example, a rifle isn’t usually the right firearm for hunting small game such as rabbits and ducks. (And dynamite is never appropriate!) Granted, you are hunting much larger-than-usual animals, but putting more time into researching your quarry before the hunt will greatly increase your odds of success.
5) Research hunting seasons before the hunt!
While it’s clear that you’re up against some wily prey, you probably ought to take a little time to research the hunting season for your area. Don’t just depend on the sign on that tree, since we know that both the duck and the wabbit you hunt are tall enough to change the sign on you! If you research beforehand and have the proper licenses, you won’t be fooled by this gimmick.
6) Sight-In Your Rifle and Become a Good Marksman
It appears you have missed your target—even when it is right in front of you! You may need to properly sight-in your rifle. If that’s not what is determined to be the problem, perhaps you need to do some target practice—off the field!—so that  you can know your accuracy limits. Hunter education can help with all of that.
See, Mr. Fudd? There’s a lot you can learn with a good hunter education safety course—and you can even take it online! Now that you’ve reached the end of our list, there’s only one thing left to say:

drone in flight

There’s been a debate raging in the world of hunting revolving around a small piece of flying tech—drones. The Federal Aviation Administration simply defines drones as unmanned aircraft systems. Of course, in the world of hunting, those unmanned aircraft systems include cameras with video capability to scout and track game. This single attribute seems to be the wedge driving pro-drone and anti-drone hunters further and further apart.

(While reading, keep in mind that the opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect the views of the author, Hunter Ed™, or Kalkomey Enterprises Inc. The intent of this article is to simply spur discussion.)

No-Drone Zone

On one side of the debate are hunting purists, who stress the importance of “fair chase.” Those opposed to drones feel the robots could give some hunters an unfair advantage. If someone could afford it, what’s to stop a hunter from buying a whole fleet of drones to scout an area while hunting? To the hunter that enjoys spot and stalking, this could make the sport way too easy for those who are less passionate about “the chase.”

Hunters aren’t the only ones who could be cheated by drone use. Illinois State Sen. Julie Morrison told the Pantagraph that the use of drones isn’t “fair for hunters and fishers who are seriously into the sport, and it’s not fair for the animals that deserve a chance to escape.”

Morrison is one of many lawmakers gunning for drones in the world of hunting. She recently proposed legislation in Illinois that would make the use of drones while hunting a misdemeanor criminal charge. This is similar to a bill recently approved in Michigan, which prohibits hunters, and those wishing to harass hunters, from using drones in the field. This follows the trend started in Colorado, Montana, Alaska, and Saskatchewan, where legislators have banned the use of unmanned aircrafts to locate game.

Still not sure what to think about drones and hunting? Consider what outdoor enthusiast Mia Anstine had to say:

Mia anstine“When I’m asked about ‘hunting with drones,’ I often have to step back a bit to clarify the meaning. In most instances, the drones aren’t used to hunt animals but rather scout or locate them. In my personal opinion, the use of drones in hunting should be similar to the ‘no-fly’ rules in the state of Colorado. A hunter should not be able to use the aerial camera for ‘X’ amount of days prior to the hunt. I’m not too excited about using cameras to locate animals during the event, but I AM excited about the awesome footage filmmakers and photographers are capturing with the use of drones.”

-Mia Anstine

Drones: What Are They Good For?

Those who support the use of drones for hunting see the tiny unmanned aircrafts opening up a new world of possibilities for hunters. Rather than driving around scouting an area before hunting season, hunters can sit in one stationary location and send their drone out to survey the area for them. Drones also provide new perspective when observing nature: what your binoculars can’t see, a drone can. This simplification could make hunting seem more attractive to those who want to try the activity, but aren’t too keen on “getting their hands dirty.” It could also improve accessibility, allowing those who aren’t as mobile to join in on the fun.

Drone supporters also point out that hunting is no stranger to technology, with hunters using trail cameras, cell phone apps, and GPS devices to assist them. Keeping this in mind, drones can be seen as “just another piece of gear.”

What side of the fence are you on? Do you support the use of drones in hunting?

Whether you are pro-drone or anti-drone, we can all agree that the best kind of hunting is safe hunting. Stay safe and get certified through Hunter Ed™.

There’s no better feeling than doing something you love with someone you love, and that includes hunting! While spending a cold day in the great outdoors may not be for everyone, couples who hunt together know it’s an awesome way to bond and spend time with one another.

Read on to see what Mitch Strobl, our newlywed Director of Customer Relations, and SevenGen’s TJ Unger have to say about finding love in the blind.

TJ & Liz

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Who got you into hunting?

My father introduced me to whitetail hunting when I was 9 years old. I’ve since developed my passion for the outdoors and now get to share all that our hunting heritage has to offer with my best friend—my wife, Liz.

What do you love most about hunting with your wife?

Liz and I enjoy the adventure of new experiences where we have an opportunity to explore, learn and challenge ourselves. Hunting has been an ultimate avenue for us to share in these experiences and build lifelong memories along the way.

Has hunting brought you closer together? How?

Today, we are a society of constant connectivity—social media, television, Internet, etc., which often comes at the unfortunate expense of “family time.” Hunting is an exception and has, without question, made Liz and my relationship stronger and brought us closer together. The frequent “downtime” of the hunt allows us to grow through communication and involvement. We share stories, we laugh, argue, and sometimes even cry. Yes, we have the occasional “disagreement” in the tree stand, but we always persevere from 20 feet up! Whether it’s spring turkeys or autumn whitetails, the seasons afford Liz and me an opportunity for pure togetherness.

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What was your most memorable hunt together?

Liz and I share countless hours hunting together each year. One of our most memorable hunts was in the foothills of Nebraska, chasing turkeys with good friend Cory Peterson of Hidden Valley Outfitters. It was the afternoon of our last hunt, and my turn behind the trigger.  I had my heart set on bringing home a true Merriam gobbler and, with daylight fading, odds were not in my favor. We sat in our ground blind reminiscing on the week, when unexpectedly a true Merriam tom silently strutted into the open. At less than 10 steps, I was instantly ready to squeeze that trigger. Instead, I heard the whisper of my wife, coaching me to be patient and let things unfold so that we could enjoy the moment together.

Can hunting be romantic?

We, as sportsmen, know that it’s not just about the trophy — it’s about the experience, and together we are making memories that we will both cherish for a lifetime. We also remind each other that hunting takes much patience … and so does love! And when asked if hunting can be romantic, Liz and I have two words: “Blind date”!

Mitch & Stephanie:

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Who got whom into hunting?

I introduced Stephanie to hunting, although she didn’t really have a choice. If she wanted to spend time with me, she HAD to go hunting.

What do you love most about hunting with your wife?

It’s pretty simple for Stephanie and me. Hunting equates to quality, uninterrupted time together. Too many times during everyday life we have responsibilities that limit our time together: work, family, etc. When we go hunting, it’s dedicated time where it’s just the two of us and the great outdoors. Having that time together is special; we’re out in nature and there are no distractions so that time is valuable to both of us. I believe that’s why we make such a great effort to hunt all the time!

Can hunting together be romantic?

Well, I guess it depends on what your definition of romantic is! Stephanie would be quick to tell you about how we put makeup on together in the bathroom mirror during waterfowl season. She’s really taken to my forest green, brown and black combo! And let me tell you, she looks good in camo! Okay, in all seriousness, hunting together is very romantic. Quality time is important to both of us, and hunting allows us to have plenty of uninterrupted quality time together. Plus, the fact that Stephanie takes the time and makes the effort to explore my hobby is very romantic, too.

Has hunting brought you closer together? How?

Absolutely, for two reasons: quality time and sacrifice. Hunting allows us to get away from our everyday life in the city and we can just “be.” Some of our best days together have been in pursuit of a deer, turkey or hog. Everything that goes into a hunt contributes to the experience: the planning, anticipation, getting ready, the drive there, the hunt, pictures, video, preparing the meat, cooking it, and eating it. It all adds up to a monumental experience together where we accomplished something. Plus, I’m grateful for the sacrifice on her end. I appreciate the fact that Stephanie proactively took the time and made the effort to experience a hobby that is and always will be very important to me. Of course, I do the same for her, so there’s equal appreciation and that significantly helps our relationship.

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What is your most memorable hunt together?

While my archery buck in Ohio is a close second, I’d have to say Stephanie’s first turkey hunt is our most memorable trip together. For those who have been turkey hunting before, you know what I’m talking about… when that first gobble cracks the morning silence, it sends goosebumps through every square inch of your body. I’ve never seen her eyes light up the way they did when she heard her first gobble. Well, except for when I proposed to her. I laughed because I knew exactly how she was feeling at that moment — she was hooked!

Now, here’s the thing with Stephanie: She talks A LOT. So the second she heard that gobble, question after question ensued, to the point where I thought SURELY there can’t be any more! Looking back, the questions are what I loved the most. It reminded me of what it’s like to be a new hunter. Of course, I was more than happy to answer them.

The gobblers continued doing their thing for 20 minutes or so, and I was able to give Stephanie the full play-by-play of what was about to happen with my mad calling skills (not). I’d been turkey hunting before, and my call does nothing but scare those turkeys the other way! But I couldn’t help myself. I sent out a few clucks and purrs and sure enough, they flew down the opposite direction. Panic mode set in. Stephanie was convinced that I blew it. I assured her they’d be back around, it would just take patience. It was that point in the season where if you couldn’t pull a tom away first thing in the morning, you’d better wait until late morning, so that’s what we did. They went on their way and we repositioned in a high-activity area. Sure enough, they eventually came by our setup and everything worked out perfectly.

 
There was a huge group of them, which worried me. We were tucked up under a cedar bush, so we were definitely concealed, but with a group of 10 or so turkeys I thought for sure they’d bust us. Luckily, one of the gobblers ventured out on his own, a fatal mistake. Steph did everything just like we practiced, made me so proud! She asked to turn off the safety, I confirmed. She aimed at the neck and put a good ethical shot on him! That’s when the tears came… which, is something I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but it turned into one of those moments we still talk about on a regular basis. It’s a big deal, taking an animal’s life. I tried my best to prepare her for the seriousness of the situation, but it’s truly something you have to experience in order to fully understand it. After the initial shock eased, then the laughter and excitement came in. Looking back on the video, we had such a good time. We made fools of ourselves, yes, but it was totally worth it. What an experience to share together, something we’ll definitely remember forever.
 
Image and Story credit: TJ Unger, Pro Staff Member for Dominator365 and Director of Business Development for SevenGen