It will make you feel better when you have to make one of those off to the side leaning shots. You will be more concentrated in making the shot. Get a good safety vest instead of those (Free) jobs you get with a ladder stand or climbing stand.
Posted this on the PA forum last Monday, Nov. 6th.
Well, you're gonna hear it a thousand and one times. Use a harness and life-line. Stay attached from ground to stand. My son and I decided to hunt this afternoon in spite of the lousy weather. We got to our stands around 2pm and started to get ready to climb. The tree my stand is in is not the straightest and my climbing sticks follow the contour. Any how, I'm climbing and up to my third stick, next thing I know I'm swinging around the tree. My foot slipped of the step causing me to drop maybe 8-10". My right hand had already gripped the next step of my Muddy Sticks, but it wasn't near strong enough to stop me. The life-line did it's job, prusic knot tightened right up. I was able to turn around and face the tree and get my foot on one of the steps. I feared what my right hand looked like as the steps on the Muddy Sticks are really aggressive. My son came running over as I worked my way down the sticks. Blood was running from the base of the fingers on my right hand. After some clean-up with water and some paper towels I could see that I removed a lot of skin and lacerated the joints. Not deep, but hurts like hell to bend my fingers. Pulled some muscles in my arm as well. I was up about 12'. Needless to say, it was a sobering experience. And it happened so quick. No time at all to react.
Some take aways...
1. Use a lifeline. I do have several stands that have the shorter line at stand level to hook up to once up. They will be replaced with 30' lifelines I ordered on Amazon. 3-pak $77
2. Check how your sticks are positioned relative to the tree and ground level. When I looked closer it was evident the step was not parallel to the ground or perpendicular to the tree, but actually sloping down. Add in wet boots and it was an accident waiting to happen.
3. This goes without saying, wear a harness.
Fortunately this had a "good" ending. My hand is sore, arm hurt, oh yeah, forgot about the nice bruise on my stomach from steps. But, I should be ready for Friday and Saturday. Temps are supposed to drop considerably and I'm excited. Wiser as well.
It's not a matter of "if" you fall, but when you fall.
I've not hunted much out of a treestand, a little..mostly climbers. This yr is my first time using a hang on stand. I will be using a rock climbing harness. I will have to use a linemans belt setting sticks, I know it wont actually prevent a fall but hopfully I wont hit the ground if I do fall using a linemans belt. I do know I will be hooked up 100% of the time.
Not being crippled for life is a big enough reason for me. There used to be a guy who posted around here who had that happen to him. One or two conversations with him should convince anyone to wear one...
There was a guy that died from hanging after a fall this year in northcentral WI. I don't think he had a vest on, I heard he was hanging upside down. I remember the old waist belts from years ago, you could end up with your feet above your head pretty easy with those.
The primary function need be the only function. However, as Straightarrow asserts, my harness makes a fantastic hands free drag mechanism. So, the secondary function is almost worth including a harness in its own right. I can walk a doe out with my hands full of bow and gear. A buck is not so simple depending on the thickness of the brush.