The Myth of Tree Damage

by Karen L Cranford

We have evidence that screw-in hunting products do not 
cause long-term damage to trees!

To Karen Cranford's List Of Columns

Many public and private groups have banned the use of screw-in-type products on their hunting land.  Cranford Manufacturing produces a rope-style tree step, the EZY® Climb Folding Rope Tree Step for use in these situations.  This step causes no tree damage and has proven to be quite safe in practical application over the years.  However, we have evidence supporting our belief that our screw-in hunting products do not cause long-term damage to trees.  (This may or may not be the case with other manufacturers' products typically having bulging, rough, rolled threads that make a larger non-tapered hole.) 

To back up this claim, allow me to point out that we have a large old oak tree located behind our plant that we refer to as the "testing tree".  This tree has had, conservatively, hundreds if not thousands of tree steps and accessories screwed into it over the 28 years that we have been manufacturing tree steps in this facility. 

Our "Testing Tree" tree is still very much alive and healthy.  This testimony alone speaks volumes, but there is more evidence.

Additionally, over the years, a number of customers have commented to us that they hunt from the same tree (or trees) year-after-year.  Annually, they attempt to locate the spots the steps were screwed in the previous year so they can "reuse" the holes.  They typically indicate they are unable to locate the old holes.  The holes close (self-heal) over time.

Please note, CMCI does not recommend "reusing" a hole for the installation of a tree step.  This is a very unsafe practice.  With each installation of a tree step, the screw needs to create its own hole in the tree formed tightly to the screw's threads.   In addition, one should never drill a pilot hole and insert a tree step into that hole for the same reason.  To safely be able to climb on a tree step, you must allow the tree step screw to create its own tapered hole with the wood of the tree gripping tightly to the entire screw.  (For more safety information visit

The real danger in the use of screw-in products for hunting is when the products are left behind in the tree.  Over time, the tree will grow over and encase the tree step or other accessory. 

If the tree is later harvested for lumber, the sawmill will pay the price, in damaged equipment, when their equipment encounters that piece of steel embedded in the tree.  However, this situation can be completely remedied by the proper use of the equipment. 

We as the manufacturer have no control over this.  Each and every hunter must responsibly use and account for all of their equipment after each use.  Our instructions indicate that one should not leave a tree step, or other accessory, installed in a tree for extended periods of time.  Not only does this pose a hazard for the logging industry as indicated above, but also this poses a hazard to the hunter himself.  When a tree step is left in a tree for an extended period of time, the metal can be corroded by the chemicals with which it comes in constant contact. 

In addition, it has been reported to one insurance company that tree steps (thankfully not one of our brand) were left installed in a tree over a winter freeze and growth period of the tree. This caused the screw to be broken in half inside the tree as the growth circles in the tree shifted during growth, freezing, and thawing activities.  An uninformed climber can step on such a tree step only to have it surprisingly pull out of the tree because of the broken screw.  Again, this is not a situation the manufacturer can control.  The hunter is responsible for his or her own reasonable and safe use of such products.

No one can actually guarantee anyone that the installation and use of a screw-in type tree step will never damage any tree under any circumstances.  However, I believe the above information does prove that tree damage is NOT the major concern that some anti-hunters and some hunters themselves would have you to believe.

For more information go to:

Karen L Cranford
Karen is the Director of Operations for Cranford Manufacturing Company, Inc., the creators of EZY® Climb Tree Steps and Hunting Accessories and the manufacturer of Guardian Climbing Safety Systems and Angel Wings.

Karen L Cranford
Karen is the Director of Operations for Cranford Manufacturing Company, Inc., the creators of EZY® Climb Tree Steps and Hunting Accessories and the manufacturer of Guardian Climbing Safety Systems and Angel Wings.

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