Hunter Safety Blog

High on Safety: Make Treestands Dangerous for Game, Not Hunters

November 23, 2011
by Brent McNamee

When Scott Cleveland went hunting last week, he must have thought he would come home with something better than two broken ankles. After falling 25 feet from a treestand, the 45-year old hunter was left to crawl three hours through the woods, unable to walk because of his injuries. Thankfully, the hunter was eventually rescued. It could have been much worse.

Each new hunting season brings new stories about successful hunts, big trophies, and near misses. Unfortunately, every year, it also means stories about serious accidents—most that could have been avoided.

When we think of hunting injuries, firearm accidents might be what first come to mind. But statistics show that in some areas, such as the east and Midwest, falls from treestands are actually the leading cause of serious injuries.

In a study of 130 hunting injuries, a report out of the Ohio State University Medical Center found that falls from treestands were responsible for 46 per cent of those injuries, while gunshot wounds accounted for only 29 per cent. Many of these treestand accidents were very serious, with almost 10 per cent resulting in permanent neurological damage (

In North Carolina, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has made treestands a top priority in their Home From The Hunt™ safety campaign, citing their position as the leading cause of hunting incidents.

"Following some basic guidelines can prevent injuries and won't interfere with a successful hunt," said Travis Casper, North Carolina’s acting hunter education coordinator. "Maintain three points of contact when climbing up or down; wear a full body safety harness at all times; and check belts, chains and attachment cords before use" (The Outdoor Wire).

Experts seem to agree that a little education can go a long way when it comes to using treestands safely. has partnered with the Treestand Manufacturer's Association (TMA) to create a free online course that covers all of the treestand safety basics in only 15 minutes. You can take the free course here:

So, before getting that great treetop vantage point, learn or review how to avoid an accident when hunting from a treestand. Make sure your hunting stories next year are about big game trophies and not unexpected falls.

And if you have family or friends who love to hunt, please pass on the link to the free course.