Although hunting tree stands are one of the most popular items of hunting equipment, it has been proven time and time again that the stands pose a significant safety hazard when used in the field.
While there are some reliable hunting tree stands on the market, there is a long list of hunting tree stand recalls that have occurred in the last decade, and some experts on hunting safety have suggested that the risks associated with using a hunting tree stand far outweigh the benefits that this equipment offers to hunters.
According to a study conducted by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 18,980 hunters were seriously injured while using hunting tree stands between the years of 2005 and 2007, including 41 deaths. In 1993, Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine performed a study that approximately one third of all hunters who use tree stands will experience an accidental fall from their perch at some point in their lifetime, with the majority of these accidents occurring while climbing up and down trees. While many of these injuries could have been avoided by following safety practices while hunting, a large number of these incidents were a direct result of design flaws in the hunting tree stand itself that cause the stand to become inadvertently detached from a tree during use.
The most serious safety concern associated with hunting tree stands relates to the dozens of cases in which defective stands have failed to stay attached to the tree, resulting in a hunter falling to the ground and sustaining serious injuries. When hunters are hunting from an elevated platform in a tree stand, they are frequently perched at a height of anywhere from 10 to 30 feet off of the ground, and a sudden, unexpected fall from such a distance often results in broken bones or spinal injuries.
While the majority of hunting tree stands are the result of a hunter losing his grip while climbing up and down from his tree stand, a defective hunting tree stand that suddenly collapses before a hunter has a chance to respond is much more likely to result in a particularly serious injury.
Thankfully, there is a system in place designed to regulate potentially hazardous hunting equipment so that the number of defective hunting tree stands on the market is kept to a minimum. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972, all hunting equipment manufacturers are required to immediately notify the CPSC upon the discovery of a flaw in the design of one of their products that presents a considerable safety risk to the hunting public. A determination is then made as to whether the equipment presents enough of a potential safety hazard to warrant a recall. If it appears that a hunting tree stand may injure a hunter due to failure of the device itself, a recall is immediately issued to take the product off of the market.
While hunting tree stand manufacturers frequently issue recalls on faulty equipment voluntarily, it is sometimes necessary for the federal government to step in a force the company to recall the equipment through the CPSC. In some cases, the CPSC intervenes because the agency became aware of a faulty or potentially dangerous product before the manufacturer had time to report a problem as required. In a handful of other cases, a hunting equipment manufacturer received reports that a particular hunting tree stand was defective and failed to report the issue to the CPSC or take the item off the market. In these egregious violations of federal law and public trust, the Department of Justice aggressively investigates the allegations and frequently brings the company to justice through a civil lawsuit filed by the federal government.
Unfortunately, a defective hunting tree stand poses serious safety to hunters, and there has been a long litany of serious injuries and even deaths of hunters who have been the victim of faulty hunting tree stands. The dangers posed by even a relatively mild injury sustained through a hunting tree stand accident are often compounded by the fact that the injured hunter may be unable to contact anyone for emergency assistance. The most common injury to hunters who experience the failure of this hunting equipment is broken bones and spinal cord injuries that are sustained with a hunter actually falls out of the stand and drops straight to hard forest floor below. The safety harness that most hunters use while sitting in a hunting tree stand is designed to keep a hunter from falling directly to the earth in the event of an accident, but hunters are sometimes injured through the harness itself when a defecting hunting tree stand fails.
There are a handful of safety precautions that a hunter follow to seriously minimize the risk of injury when using a reliable hunting tree stand, as well as the risk posed by the failure of a damaged or defective stand.
First and foremost, be sure to complete proper research on your next hunting tree stand before making a purchase. These days, it is very easy to find reliable reviews of hunting tree stands featuring firsthand knowledge of any potential safety concerns for a particular model. When you are using your hunting tree stand out in the field, be sure to wear a safety harness. Users of hunting tree stands can also protect themselves by remembering to never carry their hunting equipment while climbing up or down a tree. Instead, hunters are advised to use a haul line to raise and lower their hunting equipment. Hunters are advised to always inspect their hunting tree stand before using it in the field for signs of wear and tear that may pose a safety hazard, and to keep up with safety recalls on hunting tree stands through the CPSC.