All bow hunters at the Marine Corps Logistics Base have to take a tree stand safety course. Military spouse Laura Dziuban likes to hunt, but says she was scared to hunt higher than eight feet in the air. "Certain tree stands I wouldn't even use because I was very very nervous about falling out" says Dziuban. In order to boost her confidence to be use higher tree stands she enrolled in one of many tree stand safety courses offered by the base.
Federal Game Warden Al Belanger says the course is beneficial to hunters across all experience levels. " It teaches the hunters how to perform proper tree stand placement and proper safety techniques. How to self rescue techniques in the event that something was to happen to your stand or if you fall asleep and fall out of the tree" says Belanger.
After a four hour online class, participants go through a four hour field event where they learn exactly how to wear a safety harness. Dziuban says she goes through a mental checklist while suiting up. "I'm mainly thinking just hook everything up the way I was taught to do it. Because if I don't I might fall or something might happen" says Dziuban.
Hunters are connected through the harness, carabineers, and a crucial safety knot they call the 'lifeline' that stays above a hunters head at all times. "That keeps the hunter secured to that stand so if he has mud on his boots and slips, he won't be falling a great distance and will be able to get back on his ladder or his climbing unit that he's using" says Belanger.
As part of tree stand safety everyone who takes the class has to learn how to rescue themselves in order to prevent injury. "So you could bump your head, you could be injured, so that's why it's important that you know how to perform a self rescue. To get yourself back in a safe position where you could make that cell phone call to get someone out here to provide you that assistance" says Belanger.
When the class is over, hunters say they're ready to climb 20-40 feet up a tree and wait for their target. "Now that I've gone through the safety course, I'm a lot more confident and I'm actually gonna climb higher this year than I did last year" says Dziuban.