Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Rifle season in Georgia for deer hunting is starting soon, and local hunters are out preparing their favorite spots to bag their trophy bucks as fall weather starts to creep in.

The season is also the perfect time for hunters to find themselves in some tough situations if they haven’t done one item on their hunting checklist they should do every autumn: check the tree stand ahead of time.

Hoping to avoid issues, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources wants to remind all hunters to take tree stand safety seriously and make it a top priority before their hunting season starts.

“Most hunting accidents are caused due to some form of issue around a tree stand,” DNR Ranger First Class Chad Cox, said.

He said that when going through an annual inspection before the opening of rifle season, hunters need to first and foremost remember that bolts and harnesses age over time, and should be the first thing checked prior taking a first climb back up to their seats.

“You also should check your tree stand for wildlife and insects when getting ready for hunting season,” Cox said. “Birds and raccoons like to make nests in them, along with wasps and hornets.”

When everything is clean and inspected, Cox said hunters should be well aware of their surroundings, keep their harness and orange vests on at all times, and lift firearms into a stand through a haul line.

“Never, ever load your firearm before going into your stand,” Cox said. “Accidents can happen just as easily climbing up a ladder as any other place.”

Above all, Cox said to always keep a cell phone within reach, or some form of communication to call for help, and to inform people of where the tree stand is located.

Cox said that annually hunters get into accidents every year involving a tree stand, whether it is climbing in and falling out more than 10 feet above the ground without their harness on, or disturb wildlife in the stand previously undiscovered.

Those interested in more tips about hunting safety, licensing requirements and information about the wildlife in Georgia can visit gohuntgeorgia.com.

Tonight and Thursday nights are the last to get into local hunter safety courses from 6 to 10 p.m. at the JL Lester Wildlife Management Area in Cedartown. Pre-registration is required at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com.