Checking A Tree Stand

In theory, we should all have checked our tree stands before the hunting season starts, to cut shooting lanes, and to check on the status of your stands.  But what if you haven’t had time?  I fully understand many hunters do not have the time to check stands and properties as many writers and other media personnel prescribe.  Does this mean you are less of a hunter- not at all. If you haven’t had a chance to check your stands, here are a few things to look at before ascending the tree to ensure the safety of your tree stand.

Specifically for ladder stands, give the ladder a firm test shake before climbing.  This tests the stand’s straps and security attached to the tree.  Once my ladder stand came off the tree entirely as the strap had rotted.  Thankfully I had another strap and was able to save my morning.  Had I just assumed safety, I may have fallen out of the tree had I made it to the top.

With hang-on stands check the strap before you climb in.  By standing on your climbing sticks or steps, put pressure on the platform with your hand before climbing in.  In these situations where you are hunting a location you have not checked since last season, carry an extra ratchet strap in your pack in the event the stand’s strap has been compromised.

Each stand is different however, whether you are climbing a ladder stand, sticks, or screw in steps, check the steps for cracks at the joints or where the metal has been welded together by the manufacturer.   For screw-in-steps double check the holes in which the step is in.  Usually the tree has grown around the step making it near impossible to take out.  Yet again, do not assume.  Check to make sure they have not rotted out.  Remember to keep “three on the tree” at all times.  This means to have three of your limbs holding onto something as your climb from step to step.

Climbers are a bit different in that they probably hung in your barn or garage for the past nine months.  Again, check all welding points for stress fractures or weaknesses as well as the platform itself.  Double check the tree teeth to make sure there are no chips or any missing.  Most importantly, check the cable or chain used to secure the stand around the tree.  Look for weaknesses, breaks and rust. Also, double check the seat straps before sitting. 

Although this may seem like something your grandfather would harp on you, death and injury are both possibilities when climbing a tree.  Just keeping an eye out for these things can be the difference between going home safe and being airlifted out of the woods.  And as always, wear a darn safety harness.

Jason Reid

Last Updated: September 30th, 2014

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