VOHRINGER: Hunting for the best treestand

By on September 14, 2016
Hunting deer from a tree stand is very effective but great care must be taken to adhere and fulfill all tree stand hunting safety rules and recommendations. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Koehler Photography).

The vast majority of deer hunters across North America take to the trees. Understandably then, that an entire industry has grown around this popular hunting method, producing a large variety of tree stands that satisfy the needs of every hunter. There are big advantages in hunting deer from a tree stand, or “high seat” as they are called too.

Why are deer hunters using tree stands? Hunting deer from an elevated platform gets you above the line of sight of the deer. A hunter in a tree stand has a larger field of view over the guy hunting on the ground. If a tree stand is placed correctly it also will guard the hunter against his biggest nemesis, a deer’s nose. The number one defence mechanism of deer is their noses; they constantly sniff the wind and thermals to detect danger or find each other. A deer has a more powerful nose than a dog. A dog can detect odours 4,000 times better than a human, a deer 10,000 times better. With that said the biggest advantage of hunting from a tree stand is to get human scent above the prevailing air currents and away from the deer noses.

Until about six years ago hunting deer from tree stands has not had a big following here in British Columbia, but that has changed and the number of hunters choosing to hunt from an elevated position is steadily growing. As with all things it has positive and negative sides. The negative side of using tree stands is in the fact that every time a person leaves terra-firma there is a big potential of falling. Tree stand manufacturer and companies that specialize in “tree stand safety” go to great lengths to inform users about all the safety measures that need to be taken to make the use of tree stands as safe as sitting in your favourite TV chair.

Still, every year there are accidents that cause serious injury or even death and they are all caused by ignoring common sense safety procedures. Indeed, tree stand accidents are the number one cause of all hunting accidents. It does not take a fall from great height to seriously injure a person. Twenty years ago a hunting friend of my mine slipped on an icy tree step as he climbed up to his stand and fell five feet to the ground. The fall broke his back and he now has to spend the rest of his life as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Had he worn a safety harness with a tether line connected to the tree trunk this unfortunate accident could have been avoided.     

September is “Treestand Safety Awareness Month” and I would like to use this opportunity to focus your attention to basic tree stand hunting safety procedures.

  • Never hunt from a home-built tree stand. Only use commercial tree stands that carry the safety approval seal from the TMA (Treestand Manufacturer Association.
  • Always wear a treestand safety harness — supplied with every tree stand — and attach the safety line to the tree trunk, or as described by the manual, the very moment you begin ascending the tree.
  • Stay secured with the safety line at all times until you’re back on the ground.
  • Always read and strictly follow the manufactures manual and guidelines of assembling, using and maintaining a tree stand.
  • Check the tree stand before every use for worn parts using the owner manuals check list.
  • Never use a tree stand that you have not personally inspected and always carry out repairs with manufacture approved parts.
  • Always inspect the tree stand safety harness and safety lines for damage and worn parts before use.
  • Do not hunt from a tree stand during high winds and lightening.
  • Never install a tree stand on dead or damaged trees, or on a tree that is not within the diameter limits recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Never climb into a tree stand with a loaded firearm. Always unload the firearm and pull it and other equipment into the stand with a haul line, after you have secured yourself in the stand.

Hunting ranks very low on the list of recreational accidents. According to available statics about 1,000 hunting related accident occur each year in America and Canada combined, of which accidental shootings are less than 1 percent. Given the fact that in Canada about 1.5 million people hunt and another 18 million in the USA, hunters have a very good safety record. Still, every accident is one to many that affects not only the victim but also their families and friends. With that said, always think safety first and take the time to implement the common sense safety procedures. I wish you all a safe and enjoyable hunting season.


  1. Peter

    September 20, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Having hunted deer from elevated platforms for over 30 years I agree, safety is rule #1. I use 4 different tree stands and have purchased certified rope ( MEC co-op store) and made my own safety lines. Don’t use that cheap rope from big box stores and hope it will hold you, it wont! Wear an approved safety harness or vest and use it every time you climb into your stand. Inspect the rope and buckles often for wear n tear. I also use a 3/8 inch pull line to haul backpack and bow up into my stand. It’ s strong enough and wont burn your fingers.Have an enjoyable safe hunt.
    Peter Wood – RippleOutdoors

  2. Gary

    September 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Othy. Do you think using a stand will increase your chances in filling your tags? We’re still waiting with baited breath to see lol.

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