Tree stands allow hunters to get a better view of their prey from above, but they’re also a leading cause of hunting accidents and injury. According to the University of Wisconsin, 55% of tree stand accidents have resulted in serious spinal injury. Read on to learn more about the leading causes of tree stand accidents.
The Leading Causes of Tree Stand Accidents
Unsurprisingly, falls are the primary cause of tree stand accidents and injuries. Many tree stands are placed 15’–20’ in the air, significantly increasing the risk of a life-threatening injury in the event of a fall. Equipment malfunction is also a common cause of tree stand accidents—especially if the manufacturer does not take steps to guard against environmental wear and tear, such as exposure to sunlight, or uses low-quality parts in construction. Improper or ineffective labelling of tree stand equipment, including misleading reference to weight limits, can also cause accidents.
Dangerous Tree Stand Products
There are several different kinds of tree stands.
Ladder stands are a free-standing stand, attached to the tree with straps or chains, that have a platform. The platform is accessed by climbing a ladder incorporated into the design. Ladder stands can fail due to degradation of the straps that secure the stand, instability that is inherent to the installation or erection process, metallurgical defects in the structure or poor connection points between the sections of the stand that become the source of bending;
Such stands are used much like linesman belts to ascend a tree while in the stand itself. Once a user reaches the desired height, the climber becomes a platform. These stands can fail due to strap failures or corrosion of metal connection points that secure the stand to the tree. Stands can also fail due to bad connections between the stand and the cables;
Hanging stands are secured at height in the tree. One usually accesses the stand with either a linesman’s belt or with “ladder sticks” that are secured to the tree trunk. Either the ladder sticks or the climbing stands can fail due to degradation of the straps or connecting cables. Virtually nothing is done in the tree stand industry to retard environmental degradation due to ultraviolet light, moisture, growing trees or other weather factors. Moreover, it is common for hunters to leave climbing stands erected for weeks at a time once a good hunting vantage point is located.
Take Necessary Precautions
The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association provides little help to consumers, even though it touts itself as the leader in tree stand safety. While the TMA promotes use of devices such as fall arrest systems that can help prevent injury, it does little to insure that its industry members produce safe products and author understandable and complete warnings and instructions. At Monsees & Mayer P.C., we understand the danger that tree stands can pose—in fact, some of our team members are avid hunters, too. We’re not afraid to hold equipment manufacturers accountable in an effort to improve safety measures. If you or someone you love has experienced a tree stand injury, we can help. Our consultations are always free.