Peak Rut is underway: Hunter safety tips

Ashley Van Egtern, DNR hunter education program 

MADISON, Wis. – As Wisconsin heads into what is known in the hunting community as “peak rut,” or the primary breeding season for deer, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to remind those participating in deer hunting season to practice safety when using treestands. 

According to surveys, 25% of bowhunters have experienced a fall or near fall from an elevated stand. Less than half of Wisconsin deer hunters use a safety harness every time they climb. 

Make using a fall-restraint device part of your routine every time you hunt above the ground regardless of whether you hunt with a ladder stand, a tower stand or hang on stand. 

“We owe it to ourselves, our friends and our families to be humble in our recognition that accidents can happen to anyone,” said DNR deputy chief warden Matt O’Brien. “Prepare your equipment – and your mindset – as if your life depends on it. Wisconsin’s culture of hunting safety is the foundation for countless traditions and wonderful memories. Please do your part.” 

Hunters should also be mindful of the basic rules of treestand safety. Always wear a full-body harness also known as a fall-arrest system. 

Connect to your tether line and keep your tether line short. The tether is designed to keep you in the seat, not to catch you after you fall. 

Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the treestand: This means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times. 

Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use the haul for other things like a heavy backpack. 

Use a lifeline when climbing up and down, this keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down. 

Hunters can participate in the Treestand Manufacturers Association Safety Course, which is a free interactive course that takes 15 minutes to complete. 

To learn more about treestand safety rules and steps, visit the DNR webpage.