“I remember kicking myself away from the tree. After that, the next thing I remember is my son sitting on my chest, shaking me, trying to get me to wake up.”
When Justin Lanclos went to the woods that day, it was a normal day. He did normal preseason activities. Just hanging another stand.
Nothing was out of the ordinary.
Nothing until he fell more than 20 feet, breaking his femur, shattering his knee, damaging his hip, and suffering multiple soft tissue injuries.
It’s hard to believe that a list of injuries like that is lucky, but remarkably, Justin’s back and neck were not seriously injured. A fall like that could easily, and maybe should have, resulted in paralysis or even death. Justin’s son being there was lucky as well. Without his help, Justin might not have been able to make it out of the woods that day.
As we reach the final run-up to hunting seasons, last-minute preparations are being made for stand locations across the country. While tree stand safety is often talked about while actually hunting, it’s important to remember tree stand safety starts when you first go to hang the stand, and the measures you use in hunting season aren’t really applicable to hanging a new set.
SPYPOINT partnered this year with the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation to help raise awareness about this important topic. They promote the use of the ABC’s of Tree Stand Safety (infographic below). Let’s now talk about a couple ways to ensure your safety when you hang tree stands before the season starts.
One of the most important items to use every time you are off the ground is your full-body harness. There are a number of manufacturers that make great quality harness on the market. All full-body harnesses have two waist attachment points for your linesman belt strap or rope style line which can allow you to work with both hands, save time, and provides for increased mobility and flexibility to set the stand safely. Any time you are off the ground working, you want to have your harness tether attached as well.
Rope safety lines
Sometimes you will hear people talk about safety lines or Prusik knots lines. There are multiple manufactures of the rope safety lines, or you can make them yourself. Rope safety lines have a Prusik knot attached that slides easily up and down the rope while ascending or descending. Rope safety lines should be used with both hang-on or lock-on style stands, and ladder stands. The rope safety line should be attached about as high as you can reach above your head while in the stand. The important point is minimal or no slack in your harness tether while seated. The rope safety line keeps you full attached from the time your feet leave the ground until they reach the ground again after the hunt. For climbing stands you can use a shorter version of the rope called a rope-style tree strap or the tree strap that comes with the harness.
Don’t work alone
For many reasons, when you’re working off the ground, you shouldn’t do it alone. It is obviously important for safety reasons so that someone can get help in the event of an emergency and it also makes the actual work easier. It is recommended that you have at least 3 total people when putting up or taking down ladder stands. Make sure someone knows where your stands are and that you always share your hunt plan before going hunting. With today’s technology, you can even mark your stands with one of the hunting apps, and share that with a family member or friend. If a fall should occur, time is critically important if you are significantly injured.
Lucky for Justin, he’d taken his son with him that day. It wasn’t Justin that got himself out of the woods that day. It was his son that got the ATV back to Justin, and got him back to the truck, so they could call for help. If ever you go to the woods and plan to leave the ground, you shouldn’t do so alone. If you must, be sure someone knows exactly where you are going, and when they should expect you back.
What do you need?
Here is a list of items that you will need when hanging stands:
- Full-body harness
- Linesman belt strap or rope style with prussic
- Utility rope for pulling up items or pulley system
- Hand saw for trimming limbs and shooting lanes
- Range finder for pre-checking distances
- Haul line for pulling up your hunting equipment once the season starts
- Accessory hanger for your bow or other accessories
- At least one other person to help; if it’s a ladder stand, two additional people
- Cell phone or other communication device in case of emergency
Justin’s story is important to SPYPOINT, because Justin works here, as the Chief Product Owner. Every hunter that goes to the woods this fall is important to SPYPOINT, as part of our shared hunting community. Please, when hanging your stands this fall, take every precaution to stay safe.
For more information about tree stand safety, please visit www.treestandsafetyawareness.org or the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation Facebook page.