Hunter wearing a full-body harness climbs a treestand Photo credit WI DNR | Outdoor Newspaper

Hunter wearing a full-body harness climbs a treestand. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to remind those participating in the upcoming deer hunting season to practice safety when using treestands.

According to surveys, one-quarter of bowhunters have experienced a fall or near fall from an elevated stand. Less than half of Wisconsin deer hunters use a safety harness every time they climb.

Harnesses should be included in the routine of any hunter planning to hunt above the ground regardless of whether hunting with a ladder stand, a tower stand or hang-on stand. Published research indicates risky climbing behavior can catch up with hunters the longer they hunt.

Hunters should always use a full-body harness, also known as a fall-arrest system. Hunters should be mindful of the basic rules of treestand safety:

  • Connect your harness to your tether line and keep your tether line short.
  • Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the treestand – Two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times.
  • Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use a separate haul line for other things like a heavy backpack.
  • Use a lifeline when climbing up and down. The lifeline keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.
  • Be sure to let a loved one know where you’ll be hunting and when you expect to return.
  • Carry a cell phone so you can call for help if you are injured after a fall.

Hunters should use situational awareness in addition to following the basic rules of treestand safety. Make sure to always select a tree that is substantial enough to support your weight. Check your equipment prior to use, making sure lines are intact, your harness fits and is absent of snags and tears that could jeopardize the functionality. Also, be sure to inspect your stand to ensure it does not have any missing components or broken features.


Hunters can also participate in the Treestand Manufacturers Association Safety Course, which is a free interactive course that takes 15 minutes to complete.

To learn more about treestand safety rules and steps, visit the DNR webpage here.

Last Revised: Wednesday, September 09, 2020

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