General Hunting Tips

More About Tree Stand Safety: Part II

A tree in the sunshine, tree stand safety concept.

In Part I of learning about tree stand safety, we talked about four crucial safety tips when using tree stands to hunt. If you haven't read that article, we encourage you to do so!

Those tips cover how to get in and out of a stand safely, and the safety equipment hunters need to stay safe off the ground. They can also help you avoid a fall from your stand. 

However, today, we will discuss what to do if (or when) you fall. Chances are, you will fall at some point, especially if you use a stand frequently. So, keep reading to learn how you can prepare yourself for a fall and what to do to recover from it safely. 

An illustration of a hunter applying tree stand safety.

'I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up': Safety During a Fall

Even when following proper tree stand safety protocols, accidents can happen. If you fall from your tree stand, what should you do?

Yes, there is a "safe" way to fall and recover to avoid an injury (or worse). 

If you used a fall-arrest system (FAS) and a suspension relief strap, you will have taken an important step to protect yourself from serious injury, but you still need to return to a safe position. 

Here's what you should do after a fall.

1. Gather Your Thoughts

Your first reaction might be to panic on the way down or when you first realize you're dangling from a tree. That's a natural response!

However, remaining calm can help improve your situation instead of making it worse. 

Unless you have done everything correctly (like having no slack in the tree tether when seated), you might need help before you can get back in your stand. You should have your emergency signal device, such as a cellphone, radio, or personal locator beacon, with you to call for help. 

Even if you get back on your stand, you may need help getting back down. Call or signal for help right away.

2. Get Back Into the Stand (If You Can)

If you can't reach anyone to help you or you're hunting alone, you need to find a way back into the stand. 

Your adrenaline will be pumping, so don't make any rash decisions. Find the nearest foot peg or ladder step and use it to climb back into the stand. If you can't find a foot peg or step, try to pull yourself back into the stand.

Remember, your FAS is there to help you. It stopped you from falling, so trust that it will keep you hanging while you grab hold of a peg or step to get back into the stand. 

3. Act Fast 

We probably don't have to tell you that hanging upside down from your FAS will quickly become uncomfortable. You're also wasting precious hunting time while dangling from your stand. 

Acting quickly by stepping into your suspension relief strap helps relieve the pressure on your legs. Being suspended for any length of time can cause suspension trauma, which can be fatal. Hanging motionless and suspended in your fall-arrest system can cause the leg straps to constrict blood flow. 

The pressure can make blood pool in the legs, limiting circulation and depriving organs of oxygen. Stand up in the strap to relieve the pressure caused by the leg straps on your full-body harness.

4. Move Your Legs

If you aren't able to pull yourself back into the stand on your own, it's crucial not to dangle helplessly. 

If you do not have a suspension relief strap, move your legs continuously by pushing off from the tree, or raise your knees and pump your legs frequently to keep your blood flowing until help arrives.

Preparation Can Prevent a Fall

Prevention is the best protection against accidents. Always hit the field with safety in mind. 

For additional tips about safely using a tree stand on a hunt, click below and watch our video. 

Get Certified and Learn About Tree Stand Safety With Hunter-Ed

In Parts I and II of this Tree Stand series, we covered several tree stand safety tips, but there's more to learn! Get certified as a safe hunter through Hunter-Ed. 

Our state-approved online courses cover many hunter safety essentials, including crucial insights for safe elevated hunting. Find the course for your state and start learning before the season begins! 

Or, if you prefer bowhunting, our state-approved bowhunting education courses are available through Bowhunter-Ed. You'll learn everything you need to know to hunt safely, no matter the season. 


Originally published October 20, 2014. Content updated August 10, 2023.