You can die hunting out of a tree stand. Or if you are one of the lucky thousands who fall from an elevated platform each year, you’ll just get severely injured. If you are super lucky, you’ll come out unscathed save a mess in your pants and a lesson hard-learned. Consider me one of the latter.
After shooting a doe last month out of a climbing stand, I prepared to climb down. My mistake was unhooking my safety harness before my descent. If you’ve ever done this, don’t. I realize this was a stupid mistake, but feel free to comment below on how idiotic it was … I deserve it. As I sat back to seat the teeth of the climber into the tree, the cable-latch system on the stand failed, sending me flying helplessly backwards. Luckily, my right boot caught on the plastic stirrup and kept me attached (although dangling by just one foot) to the base of the stand. I still eventually fell from 20 feet up landing on my back, but thankfully it just knocked the breath out of me.
So, I subsequently went on a fervent search to find a better way. I can’t stop hunting deer, and hunting from an elevated viewpoint is my only real chance to harvest an animal on the public lands I frequent in Alabama.
My scouring revealed a system I couldn’t be more impressed with. Check out Guido’s Web (www.guidosoutdoors.com). This product is basically a safety harness with a built-in seat that is one of the safest systems that I’ve seen–and extremely comfortable and light to pack (between 8 and 9 pounds).
You wear it like a backpack. Once you get to your tree, you attach tree steps to climb (I opted for the Bucksteps from Summit because they have big, round steps that will not puncture if you happen to fall on one). While ascending, the Web has a lineman’s belt to keep you always attached to the tree in case you slip off a step. Once you arrive at the top step, you attach a strap around the tree and carabiners to each side of the web. Then you simply sit, facing the tree. The seat, which you connect via two heavy-duty latches prior to climbing, is pulled beneath you and an aluminum fork on the front of the seat (positioned between your legs) keeps you propped away from the tree trunk.
You can place additional steps around the perimeter of the trunk if you think you will need to reposition for a shot, but I haven’t found the need to do that yet. The Web is very adjustable, giving lumbar support that is important for long sits. Most importantly, though, you are never in a situation where you could fall and not be able to easily recover. If you fall while wearing the Web (as long as one of the straps is connected to the tree, of course) you find yourself sitting down comfortably.
The only apparent downside to the stand is that the company producing them is small and the Guido’s Web is constantly backordered. It may be tough to get your hands on one before this hunting season is over, but I’d seriously consider looking into one for next year. If you know of a system that is equally as safe, please let us hear about it in the comment section below.