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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Tree stands offer major advantages to Kentucky deer hunters

Tree stands are capable of taking hunters above the white-tailed deer’s line of sight and smell. That’s a big advantage for archery hunters who take shots at close range.

But climbing up and down a tree isn’t without risks.

A fall from a tree stand is no laughing matter — the consequences can be life-changing, much worse than a sprained ankle or broken arm. Each season deer hunters are paralyzed for life or killed in falls because they overlooked the most important safety precaution — wearing a full body harness and attaching a safety strap to the tree.

Climbing treestands are lightweight, portable and fast to set up, giving hunters the advantage of mobility as hunting conditions change. (Photo by John Hafner)

A full body harness is the only approved safety option since the hunter’s weight is supported evenly by paddled chest and leg straps, in the event of a fall.

Lightweight, Portable and Fast to Set Up

Of the three kinds of tree stands — climbing stands, ladder stands and fixed-position stands — climbing stands may be the safest and offer advantages over the other two types of tree stands.

Climbing tree stands are lightweight, portable and fast to set up, giving hunters the advantage of mobility as hunting conditions change.

And when you are climbing, you are just sitting and standing, facing the tree, with two platforms attached to the tree. A strap connects the two platforms, so if the foot platform slides down the tree while you are seated, it can’t go all the way to the ground, stranding you up a tree.

It’s easy for a hunter to slip into an area and get up a tree without being detected, and change hunting locations daily, depending on observed game movement.

The climbing is not strenuous.

After attaching the foot and seat platforms around the base of a suitable tree, the hunter simply stands up on the foot platform, pulls up the seat platform and sits down. Then the foot platform is moved up, using foot straps. Once the foot platform digs into the tree trunk, the hunter stands up again, pulls the seat platform up and sits down.

Once the hunting height is reached, the hunter tightens a strap on each platform around the tree. This keeps the platforms from moving or shifting.

A safety strap, attached to the tree, is connected to the hunter in a full body harness. It is moved up or down the tree as the hunter ascends or descends.

Climbing tree stands are designed so that the hunter’s weight is distributed out from the tree trunk. This pushes the tree stand’s locking spikes on the platforms into the tree’s bark, while steel cables wrapped in rubber tubing, support the platform.

Climbing tree stands are made with a safety rail which provides security when the hunter is seated, standing or leaning over for a shot under the stand. The safety rail prevents the hunter from walking off the end of the platform.

Ol’ Man Outdoors, in Pearl, Mississippi, produces several quality climbing tree stands, including the Multivision, an industry leader. Buy online or locate a dealer at: http://olmanoutdoors.com.

Climbing Tree Stand Dos and Don’ts

* Use a haul line to pull up your gear, unloaded firearms or bow and arrows, to your tree stand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.

* Never climb with anything in your hands.

* The ideal tree for a climbing tree stand is eight to 20 inches in diameter with soft, rough bark. Beware of trees with slick bark, or icy tree trunks.

* Since the diameter of a tree decreases with height, the stand platforms will have to be angled upward slightly when initially attached to the tree. The platforms will level out as the hunter climbs. Ascend to a height where both platforms are parallel to the ground

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

* Choose as straight a tree as possible with no lower limbs. Use a folding limb saw to cut off any small branches that are in the way when climbing, but don’t cut away foliage at your hunting height that will break your outline and provide camouflage.

* Picking the right entry and exit route to your hunting area is more important than most hunters believe. Scout for hidden access routes — gullies, creeks, standing corn, and fencerows — to shield movement.

For example, on windy days, walking through standing corn is a good way to get to where you want to hunt. Standing corn screens your movement and the rustling covers the sounds of walking.

Traveling undetected, when entering and exiting a hunting area, keeps deer from detecting a hunter’s presence. If your entry route is cluttered with downed timber or brush go in before the season and clear the way with a chainsaw.

Stand sites should be approached from down wind, or cross wind, as long as the hunter’s scent is not being blown in the direction deer are expected to approach.

Take some time preseason to familiarize yourself with how your climbing tree stand works, how to set it up quickly and quietly.

Shooting a few rounds of practice arrows from your climbing tree stand will give you added confidence when bow season arrives.

1Art Lander Jr.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

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