SPRINGFIELD - With archery season opening Oct. 1, deer hunters will soon start heading to the woods.

Get The Latest News!

Don't miss our top stories and need-to-know news everyday in your inbox.

Tree stand falls are one of the most common hunting injuries that can be prevented with some simple safety measures such as always wearing a harness and choosing a sturdy tree.

“Shortcuts lead to accidents, and there’s not a deer out there that’s worth falling 15 feet to the ground,” says Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H natural resources and shooting sports specialist.

From 2015 to 2019, 90% of all non-firearm or bow accidents happened when a hunter fell from an elevated tree stand, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Sinclair has taught hunter safety for 30 years and leads the Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports program, which includes a hunting and outdoor skills curriculum for youth that emphasizes safety and responsibility.

Article continues after sponsor message

Deer hunters use stands, usually attached 10 to 18 feet up a tree, for a variety of reasons. The elevated position allows a clear line of sight over brush and the angle of projectiles is directed toward the ground.

“There’s a lot of advantages to being above the ground, but the biggest disadvantage is you can fall,” Sinclair says. “Being up in a tree is one of the most dangerous parts of deer hunting which is why you can’t learn too much.”

Hunters should pick a tree that is sturdy and straight with no obvious signs of disease or damage such hanging limbs that could fall. Oak trees with a trunk 8 to 16 inches in diameter are a good option.

Tree stands are most dangerous during the installation and take down.

“Whenever you are off the ground, even if it’s 1 foot, you need to wear a safety harness that is attached to the tree,” Sinclair says. “If you don’t have a harness on and you’re using both hands to work on something, you’re in a dangerous situation.”

Tree stand safety tips:

Leave enough time, do not install a stand the day you plan to hunt
Select a sturdy, straight tree with a trunk 8-16 inches in diameter
Always wear a safety harness
Have a partner
Use a haul line to pull up gear instead of climbing with it
To help hunters, Sinclair demonstrates how to safely install a ladder stand, a hang on stand or a climbing stand in a series of videos available on YouTube at go.illinois.edu/TreeStandVideos.

More like this:

5 days ago - Macoupin County Records Highest Area Deer Harvest Totals In First Weekend Of Firearm Season

Oct 26, 2023 - IDNR Announces 2023-2024 Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling Locations For Deer Hunters

Oct 23, 2023 - IDNR Reminds Hunters Of State And Federal Sites Open For 2023 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities

Aug 2, 2023 - IDNR’s 2023-2024 Illinois Hunting And Trapping Digest Now Available

Sep 27, 2023 - Drone Use For Hunting Prohibited In Illinois, IDNR Reminds Hunters