Treestand Safety: Bad Things Can Happen in a Flash

Brandon Reed

Brandon Reed

Editor’s note: August is Treestand Safety Awareness Month and D&DH will be publishing stories, tips, gear ideas and more this month. This story was submitted by Brandon Reed to Robinson Outdoors, makers of the Tree Spider safety harness and other safety gear, about his experience.

Wednesday morning, October 8th (2014) I woke just like many weekdays to get ready for work. Coffee made, dog fed, dog walked then back to have coffee and breakfast while watching the news.

Well this past Wednesday when I turned on the TV it was still on the Outdoor Channel from the evening before. There was a show on called “Real Life Stories”. (At least, that’s what I think its called.) Basically it’s a show about people who have near death or life changes experiences. The episode on that morning was about a man who went off on a morning of fishing. He never told his wife or anyone for that matter where he would be.

When he got to his fishing location he fell into the brook and got his leg jammed between two boulders and was unable to get himself free. Long story short, he spent the night there in that brook, in very cold water until the next day when those searching for him finally found him. His body temp was 64 degrees. He was lucky to have survived and to not lose his foot.

Now you’re wondering why I share that story. Well that evening I had decided to go out the next morning to hunt one of my favorite areas. I would be alone so I told my wife where I would be and which stand. She looked and asked why I was telling her. Well should something happen my hunting buddies would know where to find me. I explained to her the above show/story that I had seen and thus I was giving her my location of where I would be hunting. Something I don’t always do 100% of the time.

Thursday morning I got up and was on my way to my hunting location. I made it into the stand with about 15 minutes before shooting light. When I climbed the ladder sticks up to my stand I paused and did a quick look at the strap and it looked ok. I then proceeded up and hitched on my Tree Spider safety harness and stepped onto the stand as I often do. I hung my backpack from the tree, pulled up my bow and got settled in for a morning hunt 20+ feet above the forest floor.

The sky was lighting up and the forest floor was beginning to lighten as well. I was on high alert in hopes of something coming in front of my stand. I have had good pictures of deer, bear and coyote at this location.

After about 45 minutes of sitting I thought I heard something coming from behind me. I sat and waited and kept looking behind me to see if something was moving in slowly. Finally I had to stand to get a better view. After a bit and seeing nothing coming I sat back down with bow in hand hoping something might appear. After a while and nothing coming into view so I decided to hang my bow back on the hanger.

This is where the morning went bad in a hurry. I stood to hang my bow and take one last look behind me. Just as I turned back to hang the bow my tree stand straps snapped and down went the stand, down went my bow, and down I went only to be stopped quick, thankfully, by my tree harness. I can’t recall if any thoughts went through my mind at the time other than trying to save myself here. I grabbed the tree and hooked a leg onto the ladder stick and was able to take pressure off the harness. I held on for a bit to regain composure and then got my pack down to the ground and unhooked myself and climbed slowly down.

While the harness did cinch into my thighs pretty good (and actually bruised me badly) and hitched up my pants on the backside (which actually broke skin), I was so very thankful to have hooked on right away. The tree stand itself fell to the ground and had I fallen straight down behind it, I would have landed on the metal of the stand, which surely would have broken something or impaled me in some way.

In my younger days I was not always good about wearing a harness, which was not so smart on my part. But nowadays with wife and 6 kids I need to be more responsible and have been. Today was truly a day to be thankful for that change in my hunting ways. I thank the Lord I was able to get home to my family with minimal injury and pain and not have to have someone come look for me laying on the ground or hanging from a tree.

I share this in hopes that those who read it will glean something from it. I know I personally never thought I would fall from a tree or have a mishap like this.

Hopefully all those that climb into a tree wear a safety harness and clip on right away, even before you step onto the stand if you can.

Check the straps on your stands often.

And always let someone know where you are going to be and your plans for the day/morning/ evening.

I am thankful my wife didn’t have to send anyone out to find me hanging from a tree or laying on the ground and I owe that to my Tree Spider and the good Lord watching over me. The timing of the show I watched couldn’t have been timed better. I believe I was truly being prepared for something like this to happen even though I never would have expected it at the time. It was a good reminder, of the importance of letting someone know where you are.

Be safe everyone and think of this story the next time you head into your stand. Please do share it with your hunting buddies as well. It can happen to any of us.

Unfortunately I now speak from experience.

Thank You Robinson Outdoors and Tree Spider. At 6’2, 275 lbs. you sometimes question if the harness you are wearing will really stop you in the event of a fall. While I was never wanting to know that for sure I do now and am very thankful that it did.

— Brandon Reed

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