General Hunting Tips

All About Tree Stand Safety: Part 1

A hunting tree stand, tree stand safety concept.

Face it: Even though we know a fall from a tree stand could be dangerous, many hunters believe "an accident will never happen to me. I'll be OK without a harness."

However, according to an IHEA study, 300-500 hunters are killed across the U.S. every year as a result of tree stand accidents. By comparison, firearm accidents kill only 100 hunters each year in the U.S. Tree stand falls result in an additional 6,000 injuries, while firearms injure only about 1,000 hunters annually.

So, it's safe to say that hunting from tree stands presents more opportunity for severe injury or death than the potential of the same results simply by using a firearm on a hunt. 

These statistics emphasize the importance of wearing a safety harness from when your foot leaves the ground until it safely touches the ground again. Even though you may still fall from your stand, a harness can save you from serious injury or death. 

Hunting with a firearm or bow from a tree stand becomes increasingly popular every season! So, today, we cover some safety essentials when using tree stands

A squirrel in a tree, tree stand safety concept.

Stay Connected: Your Life Depends On It

Here's the truth: Only Superman can defy gravity, and you are not Superman. 

A fall from a tree stand can result in serious injury or death.

To learn more about the nasty results of falling from a tree stand, let's hear from Dr. David Argo, an avid hunter and orthopedic surgeon for Beacon Orthopaedics in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Argo has not only operated on hunters who have fallen from stands but has experienced a fall himself.

"I'm convinced that most hunters don't grasp the severity of these types of falls until they experience them firsthand. Trust me, I've worked on many victims who have to live with mobility implications the rest of their lives because they didn't wear a harness or tied a thin rope around their waistline," said Argo.

What's the take-home lesson? It can happen to you. 

4 Tree Stand Safety Tips

Take the necessary precautions to stay safe in the stand. The Hunter-Ed safety experts recommend following a few crucial safety tips when hunting from tree stands.

1. Take Your Time

There's no rush getting into or out of your tree stand. 

Climbing into and out of stands is dangerous and should be done with great care. Make sure you maintain three points of contact with the tree at all times. 

The three-point rule should always be used with a lifeline system, climbing belt, or lineman's-style belt.

2. Wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)

fall arrest system (FAS) should include a full-body harness, a lineman's-style belt (or climbing belt), a tree strap, a tether, and a suspension relief strap. 

This hunter safety system will prevent you from falling to the ground if you slip out of your tree stand.

3. Use a Haul Line

Getting your gear into the tree with you also requires a safe approach. 

Use a haul line to pull up your gear. Climbing with a backpack or firearm strapped to your back is not safe! You can pull your gear up once you are in the stand and fastened to the tree.

4. Know Your Limits

Become comfortable with the stand you are in and know the location of cables and other potential obstructions that could trip you up if you move around it.

Additionally, if you don't feel comfortable using these safety tips or get up into the tree and realize you're not ready for it, don't force yourself to use it. Safely get back on the ground and hunt with your feet in the dirt. 

Reading about tree stand safety is one thing, but seeing it in action can help you visualize the tips we covered above! Check out our video below for more tree stand safety tips. 

Learn More About Tree Stand Safety With a Hunter Safety Course

The excitement of a hunt can make you anxious to get out into the field quickly. However, proper planning and safety knowledge can help you return from your hunt without an injury (or worse). 

Take time to work through a state-approved hunter education course through Hunter-Ed! We cover many critical hunting safety essentials, including tree stands and various aspects of elevated hunting. Or, if you are primarily a bowhunter, check out the bowhunting-specific courses at Bowhunter-Ed and get certified there. All courses are online and state-approved! 

Find the Hunter-Ed course for your state and be prepared to take the tree stand on opening day. 


Originally published October 15, 2014. Content updated August 3, 2023.