What to Know About Treestand Safety Harnesses

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Do You Take Treestand Safety Seriously?

(HeadHunters photo)

Safety when hunting aloft should be at the forefront of our thoughts. We owe it to our families as well as ourselves. If you have loved ones who really care about you, then you need to be wearing a full-body safety system.

Like most hunters, I’ve got several harnesses stored away that have never been used. I can’t figure them out during the day, let alone before daylight in the dark. I’m usually in a hurry to get to my tree and toss the tangled harness back into the truck.

That's not a good thing.

Single Straps Kill

Wearing a single strap around the waist or chest certainly isn’t the answer either. In fact, this so-called safety device may prove to be as deadly as wearing nothing at all! While doing hunting safety seminars in Pennsylvania recently, the show promoters told me that, in that one county alone, three hunters had died after falling from their treestand while wearing a single strap “safety device.”

Think about the results of a fall with these straps. If worn around the waist, the impact and damage will be directed to the liver and/or the small of the back. According to MACTEC, a TMA testing facility in Florida, the impact of a 200-pound man falling only 30 inches often exceeds 1,800 pounds. Even if the wearer survives the initial impact of the fall, he/she will be left hanging high above the ground struggling to recover from an upside-down position simply because the human body is top heavy.

If the strap is worn around the chest instead of the waste, the sudden stop will usually begin by knocking the breath from the victim. The subsequent tightening of the strap permitted by standard slide bars usually found on the single strap units will not allow the chest to expand so that the hunter can catch his/her breath. This situation may result in a hunter being killed by his/her own safety device.

In recent days, most major sporting goods stores have refused to carry single-strap devices in favor of full-body harnesses.

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The Full-Body Harness Rules

(Bill Konway photo)Realizing more than ever the importance of wearing a full-body harness, John took the lead in designing a harness that would eliminate the problem of tangled straps. He was determined to design a safety system that would be so easy and comfortable to wear that it left no excuses -- every hunter could easily wear a full-body safety system. At first, the intent was to develop something strictly for our personal use that would feel like nothing more than our standard Realtree camo clothing. The result was not only a product that we wanted for ourselves, but one that every hunting friend we knew seemed to want as well. Thus began the Hunter Safety System company.

To make the product as simple to put on as possible, John incorporated the normally tangled harness into a camouflaged vest. Straps were much like the standard webbing found in seatbelts, but he found that by tacking them strategically around the layers of fabric, everything stayed in place and was comfortable to wear. The patented adjustment technique that permits quick-snap buckles also ended the dangling straps as well as struggling with weave-through buckles in the dark.

Getting close to our prey while hunting from a treestand is as exciting as it gets. The thrill of our sport can be enjoyed for many years, but only if we maintain a level of safety while doing it. Don’t get caught hanging around the woods without a full-body safety system.

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Safety Sytems on a Budget

Realizing through their own hunting experience that hunters with various budgets need to be safe while hunting aloft, the folks at the Hunter Safety System went to work designing safety systems in various price ranges. Each model has the honored distinction of meeting all TMA (Treestand Manufacturer’s Association) safety requirements, yet offers many user-friendly conveniences that all hunters need.

Having examined these safety systems, the folks at the International Hunter Education Association have agreed that now there is truly no excuse for not wearing a full-body safety system.

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Editor's Note: This was originally published on October 13, 2005.

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