Tree Climbing Safety

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Talk' started by muzzyman88, Jan 5, 2022.

  1. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I'm getting into the saddle hunting business over the winter and as I begin buying gear, etc., something interesting started entering my mind a bit and I'd like to chat about it here. I will say firstly that I have climbed into treestands for pretty much my entire hunting career. Climbers, hang on and ladder stands. Climbers and ladder stands I consider to be the safest two of the three in terms of complexity and use. This brings me to hang ons. Now, I will say I never thought about it much. Hang sticks, use your linemans rope up the tree, hang the stand, connect your harness to the tree and clip in and hunt. Reverse out of the tree without ever being disconnected by one or the other safety devices.

    With saddle hunting, it pretty much is the same process if you're using sticks. Except here is where it has me thinking about it more. A big thing that i see with saddle hunting as an advantage is lighter weight and such. An easy way and what seems like a prominent way to shed some weight and moving parts is to reduce the amount of sticks used. While doing so, most use some type of aider on the sticks to get the height without the weight. I have never used any type of aider before but in watching and researching this topic, there is definitely a little bit of a learning curve associated with using an aider and it absolutely does increase odds of a kickout of your foot as it swings below the stick.

    So this bring me to my question or questions about safety when climbing using sticks. The standard is to use a linemans rope. To the best of my knowledge, lineman ropes are not fall arrest devices. They're main purpose is to allow two hands to work at height. I read a lengthy post/arguement on another forum where some professional linesman agree that it will not stop a fall and you will go straight to the ground. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. Youre going to get hurt if you slip with a linemans rope. Those sticks are going to chew you up and most likely you will slam into the tree hard. But the friction and bit of the rope on the tree and it most likely getting caught up on your sticks leads me to believe it will catch you for the most part. Even if you had nothing to catch the rope, the sheer amount of friction and the rope catching on the backside of the tree will slow you down enough that you won't hit the ground at any speed that could break bones or seriously injure you.

    Anyone have thoughts on linemans ropes for safety or fall experiences while using them?
     
  2. cantexian

    cantexian Grizzled Veteran

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    If you are using a saddle set up, and using a lineman's rope makes you nervous, back it up with your tether. Just keep in mind, that using your tether to climb will limit the height at which you can place the next stick above the one you are standing one. The tether will be in the way. I have never had an issue with climbing with just a lineman's belt. However, I am intentional about making sure that my lineman's rope is tight to the tree and at shoulder height or higher to keep proper tension on it while climbing. If the lineman's rope slips, you had it too loose and too low.

    There is a saddle-hunting specific thread that will probably cover all your questions if you take the time to read through it. 41 pages deep of saddle hunting info.

    https://forums.bowhunting.com/threads/tree-saddle-hunting.62634/
     
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  3. Shocker99

    Shocker99 Grizzled Veteran

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    I would say each fall is situational. Lineman work on poles. They are straight and smooth with not much that can snag the rope on the way down. When you fall your reaction will be to grasp for anything to save you from falling. Hopefully a stick or branch or something would be there to grasp to at least slow you down. Ive heard stories of lineman sliding down poles and having huge splinters ran in them. But i would still take a fall with a rope that could possibly snag something on the way down. You are right though, ive thought of a Lonewolf step ripping my cheeks off before.
     
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  4. Shocker99

    Shocker99 Grizzled Veteran

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    I was thinking more about this . Because there have been times i was thankful i had my linemans rope and those seemed to be times where i simply fell off balance and was falling away from the tree. If your rope is adjusted properly it will either totally prevent that from happening or at least interrupt the act so you can get your stuff back together. Falling away from the tree and sliding straight down are 2 different types of falls caused by different things. Ill tell you this though, Ive been using steps and lineman rope for awhile. Id say hundreds of hunts. Ive never had a full blown accident, but i need more than one hand to count the times i was glad i had my rope.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2022
  5. Shocker99

    Shocker99 Grizzled Veteran

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    Basically if your feet slip, yes, it could cause a “slide straight down the tree” fall where your steps could hurt you. Your rope may not be as effective but might snag something on the way down to stop or slow down the impact or damage. But, if your hand slips, say while reaching up high to grab the next step to pull yourself up, then you will most probably have a situation where your upper body will fall back and away from the tree. In that situation a lineman rope is invaluable
     
  6. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    There is a plethora of information around the net about saddle climbing, etc. My comments aren't really saddle specific but climbing in general. The reason why I mentioned saddles is because of the popularity of using aiders on sticks. This introduces a situation of you better knowing how to use them and also, in my opinion, a higher risk of a slip or fall if the foot slips to one side of the tree while you climb.

    Climbing sticks have been used forever and I've used them of course for many years. I'm comfortable with them but I also recognize how dangerous they really are with nothing but a linesman rope. I'm not sure how I'm going to go about it yet with the saddle. If I one stick, that negates the linemans rope as you're always tethered in and as long as you maintain your slack correctly its probably the safest. Not to mention that you don't have multiple stick steps waiting to rip you up.

    I realize that the biggest issue for staying safe on climbing sticks is being slow and deliberate while going up or coming down. But as we all know, wet boots, snow, mud, etc., accidents still do happen.
     
  7. 0317

    0317 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Ive used a self made linemans rope with an Ropeman 1 ascender since 2013, didnt use one before that, heck I used the 'ol waist belt only when I was younger once I got in the stand .. I fell in '96 18 ft, broke left ankle, 2 vertebrae, knocked myself out a few minutes, I was by myself and used the bow as a crutch to get the half mile back to the truck and drove myself the 25 miles to the ER, laid on the horn till someone came out, they used a board on my back to get me out of the truck, I was so stiff by then, I couldnt move, very painful !! ... now a full harness is a must and I wrap the linemans rope back around the tree prior to climbing in the stand above the seat once the stand is hung and set, then hook up the body harness once up, then unhook the rope .. I do this every hunt as I use my LW and 4 LW sticks and pack it all in and out ... I can climb now with my eyes closed so to speak, Ive done this so many times now, I am still careful and take my time, and dont rush it

    I slipped off the old sticks due to the dew and wet boots and didnt have the no skid strips on the foot pegs of the sticks (Strongbuilt), I was hanging the stand (Loc On) at the time for a morning hunt .. ...
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2022
  8. cantexian

    cantexian Grizzled Veteran

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    I have aiders on a couple of my sticks. I use EWO cable aiders, the trick with any aider is to keep it under the toes of the boot sole and the foot braced against the tree. People get into issues with aiders when they allow their foots to slide out to either side.
     
  9. Holt

    Holt Grizzled Veteran

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    The trick with aider is to keep your center of gravity straight down under the stick. You must keep your toes firmly planted into the tree and be in contact the whole time. Don't ever want to just put your foot into the aider and solely use that as a step. You will swing once your center of gravity moves out from the stick as you make the step up. Always have 3 points of contact with your body to your stick. Don't relay on your linesman belt as a point of contact, just a back up device to save you if something goes wrong. I keep both my hands on top step the whole time while climbing up with a aider. Once both feet are on solid step of stick, then I will move my hands up to set next stick.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
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  10. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Thanks guys. I believe I get the concept of the aider and how to climb correctly on them. I just can't for the life of me see how to climb on one until you get to the first step of the stick without having your linemans rope go below your waist, which is a big no no.

    I recently read an article about a guy who slipped off his stick with a linemans rope and tore a giant gash in his leg from the step. He was really lucky and was able to some how get himself to the hospital in time, but lost a lot of blood. Here in PA, in some of the places I'm planning on hunting with my new found saddle advantage, you could be a couple miles from the truck at any given time and an hour from a hospital.

    I'm not afraid of heights. I am leary of climbing sticks. Always have been. I wish these stick manufacturers would address the impaling capabilities of their steps to make them safer in the event of slip. I have a set of full length Lone Wolfs that I've used for years without issue. However I have had a couple minor slips off steps over the years and it hurts like hell. I couldn't imagine actually falling onto one of them.

    My goal is to hopefully be able to use three mini sticks with a single cable aider on the bottom of two and maybe a multi step aider on the bottom stick. I'm hopeful I can get the height I need out of that setup but if a forth stick is needed and makes the climb up and down safer, so be it.
     
  11. Holt

    Holt Grizzled Veteran

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    Well to be honest with you. I don't climb sticks with the linesman belt. I find it more dangerous. It constantly pulls me in directions that make me off balanced. I take my time and inspect my sticks often. Once I get to my last stick up, then I attach my linesman and set my stand. I will never step onto a platform with out being attached though and always attached while getting on and off and sitting in my stand. I know its not the smartest method to climb, but I trust my gear and take the risk. I would almost want to push off the tree if something happens, rather then drop a few feet and get thrashed or gorged by my sticks. I understand your concerns with a linesman belt and have experienced it. I feel more in control climbing without and always use the 3 point of contact rule. If I find I need to remove both my hands, then I will hook up the belt.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
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  12. Shocker99

    Shocker99 Grizzled Veteran

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    I play every climb by ear. I sometimes set 2 sticks with no belt but on 3rd and 4th i am hooking it in while i set those. And the platform or stand as well. I hunted some pin oaks this year that i only needed one stick to climb. The branches were enough. Im with you on assessing the risk. Be smart, take your time, and you wont get hurt. If i feel like any move is iffy or dangerous im attached
     
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  13. oldnotdead

    oldnotdead Grizzled Veteran

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    So even when I'm at height l keep my linesman and my tether attached. When I climb I have both. The tether as high over my head as possible with a stopper to keep it tight enough not to loosen and fall. And use my linesmen as I climb to that..takes more time, not as easy in dark but makes me feel safer. Your foot slips you are not going down the tree.
    Ps to this I'm connected to tree if I have to go around limbs....mostly that doesn't happen with our trees but on smaller trees and oaks at camp it is great to have that two safety strap system .
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2022
  14. DH Outdoorsman

    DH Outdoorsman Weekend Warrior

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    I tend to only use my Linesman when attaching/removing my climbing sticks to the tree. Otherwise I just leave my sticks on the tree for the time period I'm hunting then remove them when I go home. It does get sketchy when I reach the top and make my transition to the platform but I take my time and make sure I have firm grip around the tree and a hold of the tether, I have found this to be faster and quieter to get up the tree.
     
  15. Z9_MA

    Z9_MA Newb

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    New to saddle hunting & climbing with sticks. When using a cable or web aider I have had issues with the toe of my boot toe’ed in against the tree slipping to one side or the other. Could have been the tree was wet or my foot was a little off to one side not directly under step (good tips above).

    Saw this YouTube video & I am trying it now just with 1st & 2nd stick. Instead of toe into tree, turn foot so side of foot is against tree. Has anyone else use this style? Curious, pros & cons, because it really feels more stable but every other video or topic talks about toe in against the tree. And it’s all about safety.

    Advance time to: ~3 min 30 sec mark

     
  16. DH Outdoorsman

    DH Outdoorsman Weekend Warrior

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    I made myself some Aiders and tried it once, and that was the last time I used them. To sketchy IMO, the hardest part was coming back down for me. I usually just bring an extra stick with me if I need to get extra height..
     
  17. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I've seen it done both ways without issue. I think it really depends on what is most natural and comfortable for you. Some folks are more pigeon toe'd and other are more duck footed. I fall in the duck foot category, so side of foot may be more natural for me. I've also seen people reference that the length of the aider has a lot to do with it as well. Another thing to consider is a single cable aider rather than ones made of strap or amsteel. Everyone says the cable aiders are really nice in a sense that they're more ridged and less apt to sway or swing.
     
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  18. oldnotdead

    oldnotdead Grizzled Veteran

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    My issue with that is she is wearing light weight casual shoes. Not the big bulky boots that most use in a hunting situation. She was using the sticks I have so I liked that but as far as the aider goes,I say spend a bunch of time with just two sticks and the aider practicing before attempting going up high. Do this in your hunting clothes and boots. I don't hunt in tights, cloth shoes and a tank top do you?
     
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  19. Z9_MA

    Z9_MA Newb

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    DH Outdoorsman, muzzyman88, oldnotdead, thanks for the comments. The thread was a couple months old and I wasn’t sure if anyone was following.

    Bought some Novix Minis and they are only 15” steps so trying to get some more height. I have 18” cable aiders installed but they don’t stay open for the climb down; safety issue. I was practice climbing in the morning, tree was wet which probably caused my toe slip. Good to know because another safety issue. Made a tubular webbing aider inserting a 9” piece of rope to keep loop open. Essentially the loop aider was a movable ~20” aider like the one shown in the video. Felt more stable with the wet tree and stayed open for the climb down. Also, did a little practice later that afternoon with the toe against tree; no issues.

    oldnotdead: that’s the plan … get out and practice with just 2 sticks and find out what works. And I am with you on seeing those climbing videos with sneakers, frogs. I am always wearing my boots.
     
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  20. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    oldnotdead, that is always something i notice in all of these videos you see about aiders of any kind. Of course I can contort and do things way easier in sneakers and shorts.

    Z9_MA... thats why i'm going one sticking right out of the gate... Repel down like batman... lol. I have my saddle, the rope is on order, waiting on the madrock safeguards to come in stock someplace and going to order my one stick here shortly. Then practice like crazy all summer until its second nature and comfortable. Besides, the look on my wife's face while doing this stuff in the backyard will be priceless.... lol.
     

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