Preventative maintenance is a key to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
From fishing gear, firearms, even the vehicle you drive, they all require a degree of attention. But what about tree stands?
The spotlight regarding tree stand safety was discussed during the season and bag limits meeting conducted by the Board of Commissioners in January.
A proposal requiring individuals to use a fall-restraint device when in a tree stand on state game lands was tabled during the meeting.
However following the meeting the Commissioners were in agreement and supported the use of fall-restraint devices (safety harnesses) by all hunters who use tree stands.
The Commissioners also agreed that an amended proposal requiring fall restraints when using tree stands on game lands could be brought back for consideration in the future. That’s a positive step forward.
However there are additional areas of concern sportsmen need to be aware of which can be addressed right now.
On State Game Lands hunters are permitted the use of portable tree stands. As a condition of their use, stands cannot be placed more than two weeks before the first day of deer season and removed no later than two weeks following the final deer season in the area they are placed.
Removal of tree stands from State Game Lands or anywhere else at season’s end is a good idea. After all, the elements can weigh heavily on the overall condition of the unit. Not all tree stands are created equal.
Today there is a wide variety of configurations of stands to choose from with prices to match. But common to all is that they require maintenance.
The folks at Summit Tree Stands offered a number of tips on tree stand care. First and foremost they recommend at season’s end to remove the stand.
The next step is to inspect. Look over every single part of the structure and identify any potential problems.
Any nuts and bolts that have become loose should be tightened. Cables and straps should be in good working condition. Questionable parts should be replaced. Pins, ratchets, “S” hooks should be replaced if they show wear or signs of rust. Check the seat for wear or holes and replace as necessary.
Take the time to carefully inspect the stand. The ladder especially should be given a meticulous inspection. Look over areas where welds were used to construct the stand. If cracks are observed, it’s time to replace. Also aluminum parts that become bent are virtually impossible to re-straighten. Parts such as this substantially loose strength and carrying capacity.
Check all tags and labels for expiration dates. All mounting straps have a maximum of two years. After that they need to be replaced.
If there is any doubt about the stand’s hardware, straps, or any portion of the stand, it should be replaced. And when replacement parts are considered, check with the manufacturer for replacement parts. Alternative hardware should be of the highest quality.
Storage is another important consideration. After inspection and maintenance, the stand should be thoroughly cleaned. Choose a storage area that is out of the weather and dry.
Right now is a good time to inspect and care for tree stands. By doing so you’ll have plenty of time to make repairs if necessary. Besides, stands stored properly and out of the weather will remain functional for many years to come.
Many hunters have permission to construct stands on private property. Stands such as these should be checked for reliability as well.
For those who placed tree stands on State Game Lands, time has expired on their removal.
A number of reports from Game Wardens indicates many tree stands have yet to be removed from State Game Lands.
Clarion County Game Warden Steve Ace reports several violations on game lands.
Ace reported that tree stands, some of them not marked with identifying information, have been left on the game lands. Tree stands that have been left on game lands are being confiscated. Confiscated tree stands can be claimed by calling the PGC’s Northwest Region Office at 814-432-3187.
PGC’s Eagle Cam
Video and audio streams from two cameras at the eagle’s nest site went live on Jan. 3. One camera is a side angle and the other a view from above, which also has infrared capabilities for night viewing.
As of Feb. 21, the nest located near Hanover, PA, contained a single egg.
Check out the live stream video by logging on to the PA Game Commission’s web site.
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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net.