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Staying Safe

According to the Tree stand manufacturers association there are more tree stand accidents by hunters annually than there are firearm accidents. The unfortunate thing is that virtually all of these can be prevented with a little care and little effort. While tree stands account for the majority of accidents, there are plenty of other opportunities for accidents. Here are five tips for staying safe while hunting this season.




  1. Always wear a safety harness.

While to some this gets old, often the obvious cannot be overstated. Wearing a four point safety harness not only makes sense, but is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. The makers of Hunters Safety Systems have improved the process to such an extent there really is no reason not to wear a harness. With several models to choose from, there is a harness to fit every frame and budget.

I recently purchased a new Hunters Safety System harness, and was completely impressed with the whole system. They have made it completely fool proof. Each strap is clearly marked, with detailed instructions. Plus, this new system allows for complete contact with the tree from the moment you leave the ground. Coupled with the lineman’s belt, it even functions when hanging stands and comes with a deer drag accessory.

Ruth Rogers - Strapped in and ready for her opportunity

While there are many versions available today from many manufacturers, (Hunters Safety system, Muddy Outdoors, Gorilla, Summit to name a few,) finding one that you will wear is critical. Whether you are using a climbing stand, strap on, or ladder there really is no excuse not to stay connected.

2.   Blaze Orange works

While many hunters on private clubs get a bit lazy with the blaze orange it cannot be overstated that since the inception of wearing blaze orange hunter’s lives have been saved. While the laws in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia state that 50 inches of orange are required. This is seldom enough. This constitutes a solid cap – however while the cap is good, a cap in conjunction with a vest is better. This is especially important when walking to and from your stand, recovering animals, tracking wounded game etc. Anytime you are not stationary in your stand you should be wearing plenty of color. It’s also a good idea to wear orange when hunting from the ground. And contrary to legend, it’s true that deer do not pay attention to the bright orange. I personally have killed many deer while hunting from the ground and wearing blaze orange hats and vests.

3.      Know your Target and what is beyond your target.

Many hunters are aware and careful not to shoot at anything that they are not fully certain is the intended target. Don’t shoot the bushes because you see something move. Ethical hunters will look for and only take the best shot available. However knowing not only what your target is, but what is beyond your target will ensure a safe shot one hundred percent of the time.

4.    Keep your guns clean and accurate.

Nothing frustrates hunters more than taking that shot they are confident only to see the deer walk unscathed out of their lives because they didn’t check their rifle before season. Taking the time to clean, and sight in your gun before going hunting is time well spent. The confidence of knowing where the bullet will hit at every range is paramount to making good shots.

5.    Know the company you keep.

Over the years I have had the unfortunate situation of finding myself hunting with the guests of someone else, or with a friend of a friend. On more than one of the occasions I excused myself from the hunt after a few questions of the guest that let me know that safety wasn’t a concern of theirs. As time went on, I grew to carefully choosing my hunting companions and will only hunt with those who share my passion for hunting and hunting safe. Frankly, if they don’t share and use safe hunting practices I simply do not hunt with them. A recent conversation with someone illustrates this well.

I was speaking with a new acquaintance who was inquiring about a place to hunt and wanted to join me for a weekend deer hunt on our property. I shared the safety restrictions of requiring safety harness anytime we leave the ground, wearing orange whenever walking – day or dark and a few other rules we have in place to protect ourselves and game. The first few sentences let me know this fellow would never join m on a hunt. His comments were, “I don’t wear a harness, never have and never will.” Strike one. “I shoot anything – if its brown its down” Strike two. And lastly he commented “Deer can see the orange and I am not going to mess up my hunt wearing it.” Strike three.

While I am sure you have never met anyone like this you know someone similar. When hunting with others, for a good part of the hunt your safety is in their hands. Are you willing to trust them with your life? Because that is exactly what you are doing when you hunt with them.


There are many other things to consider when hunting this season to be safe. These five will help you remember or refresh practices we all should keep if we are going to come home to our families. After all, while we love hunting, we love our families more.