Karen Cranford's List Of Columns
you hunt, are you concerned about being COOL? Do you wear the latest
hot camouflage pattern because it's COOL? Do you hunt from the newest,
hottest tree stand because it's COOL? Do you also not wear proper
safety equipment when hunting from your tree stand because you feel it's
not COOL? Or maybe you don't think you can afford it, or that it crimps
your style. Well, let me assure you, it IS very COOL to hunt using the
proper safety equipment, really it is! You see, it is very cool to
return from your hunt having harvested a huge trophy buck. It is
not cool to abruptly end your hunt by lying broken, bleeding, and possibly
dead on the ground from an unfortunate, unexpected fall from your tree
Will wearing and using proper safety equipment add weight to the growing
list of things you must pack into the woods on the first day and every
day of hunting season? Most definitely, it will. Will wearing
and using proper safety equipment increase the amount of time it takes
to climb a tree and set your tree stand? Probably, it will, but only
by a little bit.
Is it worth the trouble? If you, your family, your friends, or
your employer value your life, it is most definitely worth the weight,
the time and money investment.
The ridiculous side of this whole issue is that there are still those
who believe they can tree stand hunt safely without such equipment because
they are "careful". Each year, numerous tree stand hunter's make
a decision not to use this sort of equipment, and some of them pay for
this decision with their lives and some by spending the rest of their lives
in a wheelchair.
The hunting industry's manufacturers have risen to the challenge by
providing a wide choice of hunting safety equipment to help ensure that
you are able to go into the woods safely each hunting season. Some
of this equipment is excellent, some of it is good, and some of it is not
so good. You will have to be the judge of what works best for you
in your situation. Armed with a little knowledge, you should be an
excellent judge of good safety equipment.
The first issue to be addressed once and for all is safety belts. Your
chances for survival are often better hitting the ground than taking a
hard fall with a safety belt around your waist or chest area. The
impact from a fall while wearing such a safety belt, according to physicians
who have examined the bodies of individuals killed because of impact loading
on a safety belt, can cause the contents of one's stomach to be forced
up his or her trachea causing suffocation when breathed back into the lungs.
Not a pleasant way to go in this writer's opinion. It is definitely
best to avoid safety belts and go with a properly designed full-body safety
Left Photo shows the
system in use during the climbing phase to initially install your fixed
position stand. Right Photo shows the system in use while in your
stand in the hunting position.
Fall-Arresting Versus Fall-Restraining
The second issue to be aware of is the concept of fall-arresting versus
fall-restraining safety gear. Fall-restraining gear does just that,
it restrains the user from falling.
For example, you fall asleep while in your tree stand and begin to slowly
tilt forward. When your safety gear tightens (hopefully after only
a few inches of movement), it restrains you from continuing your fall out
of the stand. Typically, a safety belt will accomplish this fall-restraining
task for you. Fall-arresting, on the other hand, is required in a
situation where you are in a fall (for example, your tree stand unexpectedly
gives away from underneath you) and the safety gear in use arrests, or
stops, the fall in process.
Fall-arresting is definitely the function you want your tree stand safety
equipment to perform. To be fall-arresting, the equipment must be
designed to take a tremendous amount of force with out breakage.
Also, this force must be distributed across the human body in such a way
as not to cause damage to the body when the fall is broken. After
all, your fall is broken when you hit the ground, the problem is the impact
causes most people significant problems. You do not want your safety
equipment to cause similar problems.
Static Versus Dynamic Systems
The third issue to be aware of is static versus dynamic systems.
A static system is one with little or no stretch built in to cushion you
in a fall. A dynamic system provides some measure of stretch in its
This dynamic stretch helps absorb some of the shock of stopping the
fall. In other words, it transfers some of the shock away from the
fall victim's body. In addition, the dynamic system itself will not
be required to absorb all of the shock of the fall which makes it, pound
for pound of construction, able to arrest your fall with less likelihood
To give you one researcher's calculation of the force required to stop
a fall with a dynamic versus a static system, consider the following.
(Please be aware
that many assumptions are involved in such calculations and different researchers
might come to different results using the same data.) A 250 pound
person falling a maximum of six feet will require approximately 2000 pounds
of force to stop a fall on a dynamic system engineered with approximately
25% stretch. The same circumstances with a static system of approximately
5% stretch will require approximately 10,000 pounds of force to stop the
fall. Military research regarding the impact of an opening parachute
on the human body shows that less than 2500 pounds of force is generally
safe, 2500 to 4000 pounds of force is dangerous, and that significant injury
or death is probable with forces over 4000 pounds.
In general, a static system is expected to generate at least two to three
times the amount of force on the body as a dynamic system. It seems
clear to this writer that a dynamic system is the way to go.
The fourth issue is proper construction. Any system that may
be forced to withstand between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds of force in order
to do its job had better be well constructed or you are wasting your time
and money. This writer recommends at a minimum that all load bearing
hardware be of load-rated steel construction.
Sturdy webbing as well as stitching that will not break loose on impact
is a must. In addition, dual connection points for the harness and/or
system will distribute the force of the fall among more than one piece
of hardware. Mountaineering and rock climbing gear is always redundant,
but for some reason hunters do not seem to see the value in redundancy.
Redundancy can be of lifesaving importance. Another valuable construction
point for a harness is for the connecting rings to be encapsulated in body
of harness rather than simply sewn to the outside surface of the harness.
With the encapsulation technique it is virtually impossible for a ring
to ever completely detach from the harness
during a fall.
Remain Upright In The Event Of A Fall
The fifth issue is a system that will allow you to remain upright in
the event of a fall. First of all, being upright is much more comfortable
than being upside down. Second, you are much less likely to lose
consciousness if upright. Third, remaining upright puts you in a
better position to regain your footing, reestablish your equilibrium, and
hopefully be able to safely climb down without having to wait for a rescuer
to come by -- which could take hours or more.
The sixth issue to be considered is comfort. If you are like
most people, you probably will not wear a harness and use a safety system
that is not comfortable. Also, if you must wait for a rescuer to
show up before you are able to climb to safety, you will not want to be
in severe pain during that potentially long time lapse. I challenge
any of you to attempt to hang by a safety belt around your waist.
Within seconds or a few minutes you will be in so much pain that you would
likely cut yourself loose and fall to the ground rather than to remain
in that state for very long.
The hunting industry manufacturers have recently risen to providing
many choices for safety equipment. Guardian
Climbing Safety Systems and Angel
Wings are among these choices. These systems meet all of the
points mentioned above and more. They are load-rated to handle a
250 pound person falling a maximum of six feet. The maximum that
you can fall using the equipment according to the instructions is three
feet, so if you are diligent in proper use of the equipment you have quite
a margin of safety built into the construction of the systems.
The systems are all both fall-arresting and fall-restraining.
The systems designed for fixed position tree stand hunting are designed
to allow you to climb past obstructions, such as limbs, without having
to disconnect from your safety equipment.
Whether you are hunting from a fixed-position or self-climbing tree
stand, with the proper Guardian or Angel Wings system, you will be able
to be connected to the tree via your safety equipment from the time you
leave the ground until you return to the ground. This includes climbing
to the location for hanging your stand, installing your stand, climbing
into your stand, hunting, and descending back to the ground. Any
of these tasks can be performed even if it is necessary to climb past obstructions.
These products are available on the web at www.cranfordmfg.com
or www.ezyclimb.com or by calling
Cranford Manufacturing Company, Inc. at (336) 284-2686.
Left Photo shows the
Guardian Climbing Safety System in use during the climbing phase to initially
install your fixed position stand. Right Photo shows the system in
use while in your stand in the hunting position.
Karen L Cranford
Karen is the Director of
Company, Inc., the creators of EZY®
Climb Tree Steps and Hunting
Accessories and the manufacturer of Guardian
Climbing Safety Systems and Angel