By: Wade Nolan
bowhunting biologist

On a recent trip to Africa I hand caught a Black Mamba and while living in Alaska I worked at close range with 1000# Brown Bears. Although it took some getting used to I have slept in a little nylon tent for over 100 nights on Kodiak Island.

Do I sound like a risk taker or to some of you maybe an idiot? Actually those occasions were all calculated risks. I took all precautions to make sure I could later write this for you to read.

Look at your life; you take risks all of the time driving 65 mph past oncoming cars in the next lane only 6 feet to your left. Some times we recognize the risk and other times we are numb to it because of familiarity. Those risks that we “get used to” can catch up with you fast.

Thinking you can’t fall out of a treestand
is one of those familiar risks.

One such risk that I’m not willing to take is employing foolish treestand practices. I talk to dozens of guys every year who thought it couldn’t happen to them. Hogwash…be foolish here and it will eventually catch up to you. I recently read a few testimonials from hunters who have got the message. It seems we have one big factor working against most of us…we’re men and most men think they are bullet-proof. Not so!


We know when these treestand accidents are occurring. While putting up or taking down treestands and while getting in and out. Although this sounds ridiculous, we could dramatically reduce treestand accidents if hunters stayed attached going up and coming down and if they stayed attached while putting up and taking down their stands…but took their full body harnesses off while on the platform hunting! Don’t do this of course, because some falls occur from the platform, but data shows that most falls don’t occur while sitting in treestands.

The correct course of action is to remain attached from the ground up, throughout your hunt and until you return to the ground. You can do this two ways. With a climber, just stay attached and slide your attachment up and down with you as you climb.

With hang-ons stay attached to the tree by using the double attachment method. That is, using a lineman’s style belt up to your stand and then reaching above and attaching your tether and treebelt…unattach the lineman’s belt and board the stand while attached with your harness tether. Reverse coming down.
It’s easy and safe

Be attached from the bottom to the top and back down again. A retractor takes the risk out of treestand hunting fals.

But there is an easier way to remain attached. It’s with a retractor. There are several on the market, use one when you hang your stand and then just pull down the long tether and attach the retractor it to your Full body harness and start climbing.
Lots of hunters have discovered them.

I know for a fact that it is possible to survive Mambas and Brown Bears… if you go in with a plan to survive. Treestands are not dangerous but foolishness is. A foolish 200# man hitting the ground from 20 feet hits with 3200-foot pounds of kinetic energy…you may not survive that one. 

By Wade Nolan