Tree stands are deadly for hunting deer, but a slip and a fall from one can be deadly for hunters as well -- and it happens every hunting season. Safety harnesses for hunters pursuing their quarry from tree stands are not a luxury, but a necessity. A simple, homemade hunting harness takes only a few minutes to make and could save your life.
Commercial hunting and safety harnesses are made either using seat-belt-style cargo straps or, alternatively, tubular webbing. Tubular webbing is the easiest choice, as it is available at most rock climbing and outdoor shops. You will need at least three pieces of webbing each approximately 12 to 16 feet long as well as a smaller piece of about 6 feet in length to make a secure hunting harness. You will also need two locking carabiners -- metal loops with secure clasps -- which you can also find at outdoor and rock climbing shops.
Just wearing a safety harness won't keep you safe -- it has to be anchored to something that will hold your weight if you fall. In this case, the tree in which you are hunting serves as the anchor. Use a water knot to tie the two ends of one of your pieces webbing together to form a single large loop. Wrap the entire loop around the trunk of the tree at a height about level with your chest when you standing are on the hunting platform. You should have a loop of webbing coming around each side of the tree; tie those two loops together using an overhand knot, and leaving enough space in each loop to clip a carabiner through. This is your anchor point. For instructions on tying water knots see the Resources section below.
The shortest piece of webbing is used to make the tether -- the piece of the safety system that connects your harness to your anchor point. Use a water knot to tie the two ends of the small piece of webbing together to form a single loop about 3 feet in length. Tie an overhand knot at each end of this loop leaving enough room on each end to clip a carabiner through. Clip a carabiner into each loop and clip one of the carabiners through the two loops below the overhand knot of your anchor. The carabiner at the other end of the tether will clip onto your harness.
A simple chest harnesses recommended by the survival experts at ATACTV (atactv.com) is made from a single piece of webbing tied at the ends with a water knot to form a loop approximately 6 to 8 feet in length. The loop is initially draped over the head and shoulders before being twisted to form another loop that is draped across the opposite shoulder, providing an "X'" of crossed webbing under each armpit and at the sternum. This will leave a piece of the webbing running across your chest from armpit to armpit as well. Clip the carabiner that's on the free end of the tether into all three pieces of the webbing running across your chest; your basic homemade hunting harness is complete. For added security a hip harness can be made, using the remaining piece of webbing, that can be attached to the anchor as well, but this is not absolutely necessary.
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