2. Use a Safety Line
A safety line, lineman’s belt, tree tether, or combination is the essential link between your harness and the tree or stand. They all appear similar at first glance, but knowing their differences and when to use each is important.
A safety line is a rope that is fixed at a certain height on the tree you’re hunting and hangs down to the ground. Attached to the main safety line will be a prusik knot or ascender and a shorter tether that you attach to your climbing harness. While moving up and down the tree, you slide the prusik knot or ascender up and down the safety line. Climbing this way means that if you slip, you will only fall a few feet at most, avoiding any severe injuries.
Prusik knots come standard with tree stand safety lines. They are perfectly safe but often require both hands to move up and down the rope. Ascenders are a piece of equipment that have made their way over from the rock climbing community. They perform the same function as a prusik knot but use a toothed cam and can be operated with one hand. You usually have to pay a little extra for an ascender, but it’s one of the first optional purchases many tree stand hunters make.
A lineman’s belt is used specifically while you’re going up the tree. It clips into your harness on one side, wraps around the tree, and hooks into your harness on the other side. A lineman’s belt allows you to have your hands free while going up the tree. You would only use a lineman’s belt while climbing sticks or screw-in steps, not with an attached ladder.
In the case of a fall, it will keep you close to the tree and slow you down but does not typically prevent a fall altogether. A quick search on YouTube, and you can find videos of people falling down poles while using lineman’s belts. A standard method to increase the friction in case of a fall is to put an X in the line by clipping the ends of the belt to opposite sides of your harness.