It's getting that time of the year. Bow season is right around the corner. I have put up four new lock-ons on our property where my wife and I bow hunt. It's hard work for a fat boy in July but hey...it's part of the process of year-around deer hunting and I love it.
Each of my lock-ons is in a unique area where I have - for a variety of reasons - decided we could possibly get a shot at a mature buck. There are two brands of stands and 3 brands of ladders / steps. But there is one common element at each stand...safety lines.
Maybe it's being 50 years old or maybe it's the thought of 3 young boys and a wife at home, but whatever the reason, I'm learning to be safer in the woods. I still stomp through waste-high brush with no real concern for snakes and shimmy across rickety limbs and logs to get across a creek. That's probably just because of the nature of my business. But I don't take chances in the deer stand.
The rising popularity of bow hunting has resulted in a mountain of new products, gizmos and do-dads touting their indispensable use to all hunters. I can do without most of that stuff. However, a benefit of this rise in product development has definitely been in the area of safety products. Lifelines, lineman straps and full-body harnesses are by far the most important items on the market in my opinion. These 3 items alone can make all the difference in safely enjoying hunt after hunt...or suffering a disabling or deadly fall.
I used to be bulletproof. And in some instances (like the snakes and creeks mentioned above) I still think I am. But I have a humble opinion of my claim to good fortune when it comes to a Millennium 16 feet up a red oak. I never hang a stand or set of climbing sticks without my harness and lineman's line. Once the stand is installed, I am hooked to a lifeline to trim all the limbs, screw in bow hooks and make any adjustments to the stand. I use the lifeline in ever hunt I make in the stand. My wife skips the stand hanging and limb trimming in July but she, too, is in a full harness with each hunt. The lifelines are inexpensive and so easy to use that I can't imagine a single legitimate reason a bow hunter won't use it. You connect it to your vest while you're on the ground, climb up to your stand (connected to the safety line all the way up). You are safely tethered while in your stand and on your way down the tree when you leave. It's brainless.
I also use a pull line with a simple carabineer at each stand to raise and lower my bow. This way I have nothing in my hands, nor do I have to balance stuff hanging from my arms or shoulders while i'm climbing in and out of the stand. The pull line lets me get the gear in the stand safely once I'm safely seated. How hard is that?
Every new stand I've purchased in the last couple years comes with a full-body harness, tree strap and a safety DVD. Like me, you may prefer a different style harness...OK...there are dozens of varieties on the market. I now prefer the lifeline as opposed to the tree strap so I can be connected the entire time I'm climbing and hunting. These, too, are inexpensive ($20-30 depending on brand) and they all work the same. We have tree straps on each of the 4 ladder stands we use for bow hunting, too. These two-man stands are easier to get in and out of than lock-ons and have plenty of room to stand, but the safety harness and strap still provides an additional level of safety and peace of mind.
You're all big boys and girls. You make your own decisions. I just encourage you to spend the extra few dollars and take the little extra time at each stand to make your hunting as safe as you can. I think your family and friends would appreciate it.
Kill a big one!
- Pat Porter, RecLand ProStaff Founder...but you won't see him on TV!