A tree stand safety harness tether plays a vital role in keeping you safe when you are climbing a tree to your tree stand or tree saddle. It secures you to the tree via the safety line that has been set up on the tree.
The tether is connected to the safety harness at the back, just below the neck.
Should you slip and fall, it is the tether that will arrest your fall in the first place. Your safety harness will then spread the load of your body weight evenly to your legs, waist and under your arms.
Once your fall has been arrested you can then recover your position by swinging back to your tree steps or to the lifeline on the tree.
How is the Tether Attached to the Tree?
Now for the practical details of setting up your safety tether.
We have established that it connects you to the tree via your safety harness but another important point to clarify is how the tether is attached to the tree.
You do this once you have reached your tree stand.
The first thing to put in place is the safety rope that is secured around the tree above head height. This rope should be equipped with a carabiner.
Some companies, such as Hunter Safety Systems, provide a safety belt for this purpose which is sturdy, strong and easy to use.
When this rope is properly secured you can then attach your tether to it by clipping in using the carabiner.
Only after you have secured your tether to the safety rope can you undo your lineman’s belt.
The following quick video demonstrates how easy it can be to attach your tether to the tree.
How long should the tether be?
Safety tethers should not be more than 6 feet (or 2 meters) long.
If the tether is too long your fall will be much longer and this means the arrest part of the fall will be much more violent.
A tether that’s too long also means you could be hanging out of arm’s reach from a means of regaining a hand or foothold on the tree or climbing sticks.
Tethers are supplied with TMA-approved safety harnesses and these will be within the required length.
What Happens After A Fall?
The purpose of your FAS (Fall Arrest System) is as the name suggests, it arrests your fall.
You won’t fall to the ground where you might severely injure yourself.
Instead, your FAS will leave you hanging by your tether.
This essentially gives you short-term relief. Hanging for too long can result in something called suspension trauma which can result in blood pooling in the legs and lack of blood flow to the heart and brain.
This can almost be a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Including a suspension relief system in your equipment (and it should come standard as part of your FAS) can avert suspension trauma.
This is essentially a longer strap with a loop at the end that you drop below yourself so you can step into the loop to relieve pressure on the femoral arteries.
But as long as you have also put your suspension relief system in place you should be able to reach out and drag yourself back to the tree.
Failing that, hopefully you have some kind of ability to get the attention of someone - cell phone, radio, flashlight, etc.
Notifying someone and calling for help quickly can be a crucial part of surviving a fall out of a tree.
The number one point to remember before you leave the ground is that you must be connected to the tree at all times.
This will be via a lineman’s belt, through the tether attached to your safety harness and ensuring your suspension relief strap is properly placed.
Hunting from a tree stand is a dangerous pursuit if you don’t take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Wearing a TMA approved full body harness, reading the instructions fully and properly setting up your equipment means you can concentrate on hunting, safe in the knowledge you are protected from harm.
We have provided an in-depth analysis of some of the most popular tree stand safety harnesses available for this season.
We have also cast our eye over a range of harnesses designed for larger framed hunters which should make for some interesting reading.