We spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars every year on the latest and greatest hunting equipment. We dream of the day our local shop gets in this year's thousand dollar bow. We buy stands that cost hundreds of dollars and camo suits that are even more! We are obsessed with technology and new things. I have a very simple question for you. If you are willing to spend thousands of dollars, or maybe just hundreds every year why have you not spent $40 on a lifeline? Ok, you got me. Another hunting article trying to sell something. But I'm not trying to sell you on a gimmick, or something you don't really need. I'm trying to save your life! Hopefully after reading this article you will have a better understanding of just how easy it is to set up and use a lifeline.
Have you ever seen a lifeline logo in a profile picture? Have you ever seen one of the safety companies decals in 345 font on the back glass of a jacked up pickup truck? Why not? Because it's not flashy. It doesn't tell people you have enough money to blow on awesome new things every year and or up your social media status. But it's one of the only items on the market that can and will save your life! A high percentage of falls happen during transition in or out of the stand. Mine did. A harness alone won't save you there! Nor will it save you if you're climbing up or down your steps. A lifeline in addition to your harness will!
I wasn't wearing a harness when I fell while setting up a stand last July. That's the first question I get asked. I wear them religiously during hunting season but for ignorant reasons I didn't while setting up stands. But we are asking each other the wrong question. Do we ask hunters if they took their bow to the stand? Do we ask them if they took their release? Of course not. We shouldn't have to ask about a harness either. That should be a 100% given! The focus of our discussions needs to become the lifeline and being attached from the ground up! Once I finished my setup last July I began climbing out of my stand. At that point I would have unhooked my harness. It's a fact that a harness alone wouldn't have saved me from my 20' fall. But the design and intention of a lifeline ensures that you are secured even at your most vulnerable times.
How do you get it up there the first time safely? Easy! You use it as a climbing belt. You will need 2 carabiner clips for this. You should already have 1 on your harness and another on your lifeline. This is something I personally recommend upgrading to the High Strength Aluminum ones. Not only do they weigh less but they will hold under more force. Essential if you're over 200 pounds.
Step 1: Attach a carabiner to the loop end of the lifeline. Now clip it to a loop on your harness at either side of the waist. Don't have loops on your waist? Get a new harness! Those loops are made for climbing. You can't use a climbing belt, or a lifeline in this way without them.
Step 2: Attach the other carabiner to the loop created by the prusik knot on your lifeline. Wrap the line around the tree and secure the second carabiner to the opposite loop on your waist.
Step 3: Slide the now attached prusik knot up the line, towards the tree, until the line is tight around the tree and allows you to rest against it. This process keeps you secure on your initial ascent and will keep you from having to purchase a separate climbing belt.
Best part about this set up is if you are setting up climbing sticks and a lock-on you can tie in your sticks at different lengths along the lifeline and your stand to the bottom. This will allow you to safely hang them without having to make multiple trips back down! Once you have reached your final elevation secure the lifeline a little above your standing height. Next, secure the carabiner on the prusik knot to the back-strap of your harness for normal wear. Slide the knot down the line so it is semi tight at your sitting position. There will be a little trial and error to get it right. Ensure it is loose enough to let you turn and move as needed while sitting, and tight enough to catch you before you lose your balance while standing. On your initial descent slide the prusik knot with you until you reach the ground. After you safely have your feet on the earth tie the bottom of the line to the bottom of the tree or the base of you sticks, ladder, or stand. That will make the line tight and the knot easy to slide on your next climb!
There is never a reason to unhook once you are secured to your lifeline. You stay attached the entire time you're climbing up, hunting, and coming down. It is a full-proof life saver when used properly. So why doesn't everyone use one? You got me! A lifeline is the best solution for lock-ons, climbers, and ladder stands alike. They also make tandem lifelines with 2 prusik knots to keep you and your little hunting buddy safe. The transition from the platform to the first step in a blind, tripod or stand can be tricky and scary for little hunters. Please keep your little ones tied on! One scenario that may call for a different solution would be if you hunt public land and never hunt the same tree twice. If this is the case, especially with a climber, a lineman's climbing belt would be the right solution for you. They're lighter and will take up much less room in your pack. No matter what your particular scenario or hunting style is, staying attached from the ground up is the life saver.
If you have any question about treestand safety or would like to learn more a great resource is the TSSA (Treestand Safety Awareness Foundation). The Hunter Safety System website also has a ton of good information. Lastly, if you would like to read my fall story you can click here.
Justin's Equipment List
Bow- Elite Option 6
Stand- Hang10 Treestands
Camo- Mossy Oak Country and Bottomland
Essentials- HSS Ultra-Lite Harness, Lifeline, LABH Grunt call, White Icing Honey Bun
Justin Lanclos- Founder LABH