Superlative! As I descended from yet another climb and sat in my hang-on treestand, I yelled this remark. I was able to go on what was probably my 30th climb in the previous six months by taking advantage of a little wet Sunday that kept people away from the nearby park. The irony is that I didn’t hunt for a single day throughout any of those climbs. I believe in the cliché “practice makes perfect,” and I’m committed to making excellent, safe climbing a permanent element of my hunting strategy.
I’m a beginner bow hunter, and to say I’ve been bitten by the archery bug would be an understatement to explain my instant and overwhelming passion for the sport. Aside from the physical difficulty, I discovered that each arrow shot is a test of man versus. self. The essence of being a good archer is learning solid technique and doing it repeatedly; and the crux of being a good bowhunter is learning the wise, safe, and legal approach to hunting and doing it frequently.
Throughout my hunter growth, my drive to become a safe and competent bowhunter matched my love of learning. As I got more into bowhunting, I learned via Hunter’s Ed seminars, books, podcasts, and YouTube channels. Despite all the great content shared by suppliers, some users on social media were displaying the use of climbing stands without any form of safety gear, which surprised me the most. Call me perplexed.
Now I see why it’s so crucial to be as light as possible these days. The current must-do strategy to tree hunting is generally offered as getting down to a one-stick climbing technique. Hunters seem to be unduly obsessed about dropping every ounce of weight they can. I’m looking forward to the day when I see someone climbing in just their underwear because they lost a few pounds by removing their trousers. Sheesh! However, given that most deer hunters go less than half a mile from their car, a little more weight should be sufficient. Especially if it involves bringing the proper safety equipment. So, for me, carrying three sticks, my hang-on stand, and my safety gear is plenty. My safety harness isn’t something I consider to be an afterthought; it’s an essential element of my climbing gear. It’s not an option not to use that equipment correctly, and during Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month in September, I urge, indeed, demand, every treestand hunter to do so.
Unfortunately, according to the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA), 3,000 tree-stand-related incidents occur each year. That’s three times the amount of people injured when hunting with a gun.
These sources’ information created in me a desire to achieve a “perfect ascent.” As a result, that’s what I do. I simply keep climbing – and climbing – and climbing – and climbing – and climbing – and climbing – and climbing – and I dress in various outfits and footwear depending on the hunting circumstances; I climb in both dry and rainy weather; and I climb early in the morning and late in the afternoon. I climb with a variety of safety harnesses in case I need to switch to my backup harness. I evaluate my errors, make modifications, and as a result, I grow more at ease and aware of the significance of each interrelated stage in the process. The nicest thing is that the rangers at Ridley Creek State Park, where I live, are really encouraging and happy to see someone practicing before the season begins.
Let’s learn to judge the quality of our hunts not only on the size of the deer harvested – or the first one that I want to harvest (grin) – but also on how safe we were while on the hunt. If the hunt was not safe, it should not be deemed a success.
So, whether you’re a first-time treestand hunter or a seasoned pro, go out there and climb. Be cautious, cautious, and cautious. Take advantage of Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month to put your new attitude into practice.
I wish everyone a happy and safe hunting season!
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