Tree Stand Safety

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

Tree Stand Falls are Becoming a Major Cause of Hunting Injuries

These hunting-related injuries and fatalities are easily preventable

Each year many hunters are seriously injured falling from tree stands. This has become a major source of hunting-related injuries and fatalities in New York. DEC began investigating tree stand incidents in 2017. Of the 12 investigated, 50% were fatal. All 12 incidents involved a hunter who was not wearing a harness or the harness was not attached to the stand, or the tree at the time of their fall. The proper use of tree stands and full-body harnesses will help to prevent these injuries and fatalities.

Total Incidents


Fatal – no full-body harness


Fatal – with unattached harness


Fatal – with attached harness


Non-fatal – no full body harness


Non-fatal – with unattached harness


Non-fatal – with attached harness


Type of Stand Involved (* fatality)

Climbing tree stand *


Hang-on tree stand **


Ladder stand


Tower/tri-pod stand


Homemade tree stand ***


Hunters need to become more vigilant in their use of tree stands and not take a “this won’t happen to me” approach to their safety. Every one of the 12 incidents in 2017 could have been prevented if hunters simply practiced the following:

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before you use your tree stand and check your stands (including straps and chains) every season. Replace any worn or missing parts.
  • Use a full-body harness with a lifeline and stay connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.
  • Use a “lifeline” or safety rope that is secured at the base of the tree or stand and to the tree just above your head when sitting in the stand. Attach the tether from your full-body harness to the lifeline using a carabiner and prusik knot, which easily slides up and down the lifeline, keeping you connected at all times.
  • Be aware of suspension trauma. Be sure the harness has a foot strap to relieve harness leg pressure.
  • Once you are safely in your stand and your tether is attached to the tree, raise your equipment into your stand. Always use a haul line, such as a strong rope, to raise and lower your unloaded gun or cocked crossbow or bow with quiver up the stand. Do not tie the haul line around the trigger or trigger guard on a firearm. Raise a firearm with the muzzle pointing down.
  • Let a reliable person know where you will be hunting and when you will return. A map showing your stand location makes it easier for others to find you if you do not return on time.
  • Carry emergency equipment, such as a knife, cell phone, flashlight and whistle in your pockets at all times (not in your pack hanging in the tree).

For more information, including the 2017 Hunting Safety Statistics and the 2017 Tree Stand Safety Statistics, visit the DEC Hunter Education Program page www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7860.html

Hunt Safe – Hunt Smart

Stay Connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.

Return Safely to your family.