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Anyone use a self-rescue in the field.....not just practice?

Alaska at Heart

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2023
Messages
230
Location
West Michigan
Over the winter/spring of '24, I have done some research on how to make my saddle hunting approach more streamlined and safe. One of the things I've discussed with a friend online and watched some additional videos is self-rescue. While better than a full body harness, a saddle still allows for suspension trauma if one is hanging for a long period of time. One friend carries an extra Amsteel daisy chain with a carabiner to use as a foot support. I've also seen commercial and DIY on "whoopie slings" and decided to try my hand at making one. Without dimensions, I guessed short and my first one came out well built but not funcitional for the purpose at hand. So I just completed the second one and did a bit of limited testing on a front yard tree. It might be a bit awkward, but now I know I can get to the next stick or even slowly to the ground if need be.

Just wondering who has had to actually utilize their preferred self-rescue method to use in the field.....and under what conditions?
 
Over the winter/spring of '24, I have done some research on how to make my saddle hunting approach more streamlined and safe. One of the things I've discussed with a friend online and watched some additional videos is self-rescue. While better than a full body harness, a saddle still allows for suspension trauma if one is hanging for a long period of time. One friend carries an extra Amsteel daisy chain with a carabiner to use as a foot support. I've also seen commercial and DIY on "whoopie slings" and decided to try my hand at making one. Without dimensions, I guessed short and my first one came out well built but not funcitional for the purpose at hand. So I just completed the second one and did a bit of limited testing on a front yard tree. It might be a bit awkward, but now I know I can get to the next stick or even slowly to the ground if need be.

Just wondering who has had to actually utilize their preferred self-rescue method to use in the field.....and under what conditions?
I’ve practiced numerous self rescue methods and have never had to use any of them.

Another thing to keep in mind: do you have someone you can call on in the event you can’t rescue yourself?
 
 
Between ur tether, linesman, and maybe an extra strap or bit of rope u can make it down the tree if u are in a normal state of mind and uninjured......if u aren't physically capable of getting urself down I guess the cell phone or other communication device is ur only hope there. Even with a short tether u can adjust it to where u have the most length possible and u can walk ur feet up the tree to combat suspension trauma...walk up the tree and sit down with ur legs up at waist level and lock ur legs around the trunk if it isn't a big tree
 
The only time I've ever had a real mishap were I had to stop and rethink the situation is when I was trying to rappel in a heavy rain. The super munter hitch was locking up because of too much friction with a wet rope....I attached my linesman and tied a loop in the rappel line to stand up on, to unlock the hitch and take out a wrap turning the super.munter into a regular munter. Stand on loop, mess with hitch, weighted the hitch, removed linesman, untied footloop, continued rappel. Getting drenched while this was all happening made the situation a little stressful but just keep calm so u can make clear decisions
 
In 5 seasons of one sticking (well over 500 climbs) I've knocked my stick off the tree 3 times now during the climb and one time had a mechanical failure of a rappel device. All four times I had to perform some means of "self rescue", luckily always successfully. The key is to not panic in the moment and to fully evaluate your options. Luckily most of us already have some means for self rescue already on us if we take the time to consider them. I'll revisit each scenario here and explain what I did and what other options were available that I could have chosen from.

First Scenario: I was on an observation sit in the evening about 15 ft up. When it came time to get down I hooked up my rappel rope and got set to rappel down. The issue occurred when I pulled the release handle of the rappel device and it came off in my hand leaving me with no apparent way to release the device.
What I did: I simply transitioned back to my stick, staying on the rappel line and one sticked my way back down the tree. Not my preferred method of descent but it's very doable and I use the method occasionally throughout the season just to keep in practice.
Options: At that time I was carrying an ATC and short prussik as a back up and I could have swapped to it and completed the rappel. I've since removed the ATC from my kit but I could just as easily swapped over from the descent device to a carabiner with a munter hitch and rappelled using that.

EDIT: Something I've learned since then is that if you pull down across the top of the mechanical rappel device you can get it to uncam. I've never tried it but I suspect I could have rappelled down using the device by just tending the tag end of the rope as usual and suspending as much of my weight as I could using my fingers across the top of the device. The rappel would then have been pretty much the same as pulling the handle to uncam the device. Bottom line is though there are better options than this available.

Stick Drop Scenarios: I'll cover these as a group since the self rescue options are similar and plentiful enough that I've used a different one each time.
First Occurrence: Morning hunt climbing in the dark. I was on my second stick move when I think I pinched the tag end of my attachment rope under my foot stepping into the aider. At any rate when I stepped up the stick fell off the tree to the ground. Because it was dark and I couldn't make out the stick on the ground below I took my rappel rope from the pouch of the turkey vest I use as my pack and girthed it to the tree and hooked the rappel device into my bridge. I was able to release the tether friction hitch transferring my weight to my rappel device and then I simply rappelled down. I then retrieved the stick and restarted my climb using the rappel rope this time since I was already on it.
Second Occurrence: Evening hunt, I felt I was late getting into my spot and selecting a tree so I was hurrying on my climb. I was one stick up and I think I didn't get the stick attachment rope fully into the cam cleat and failed to "set" the stick prior to stepping into the aider. Once again the stick dropped off the tree to the ground. This time it was daylight and I could readily see the stick so I broke out the grapple and string I carry to retrieve stuff I've dropped while hunting and simply grappled up the stick while hanging in the saddle. Once it was reattached to the tree I simply continued my climb.
Third Occurrence: At this years Michigan saddle hunter's get together I was trying to demonstrate a setup to another attendee and tried to rotate my stick on the tree while I was hanging in the saddle. The rope went slack and the stick dropped to the ground leaving me suspended from the saddle about 15 feet up. I first attempted the transfer to my rappel rope as above but the friction hitch I use on my tether was set tight enough that I struggled to break it loose to transfer my weight to the rappel rope (FWIW, I'm confident I could have grabbed the hitch with both hands and pulled down on it and gotten it to release enough to transfer over but it wasn't the easiest option available at the time). My next step was to pull the platform from the pouch of my vest and attach it to the tree at waist level. From there I was able to climb up on the platform and unweight my hitch and complete the transfer to the rappel rope.

Unused Options: There are a couple of more options I can think of that would work for me in the "stranding hanging" scenario that I haven't used yet. The first, would be to take my linemans rope out and use it as a foot tether. That would allow me to unweight my climbing hitch enough to make the successful transfer to the rappel device.
The second option would be to simply use that "second tether" and 2TC down the tree. I'm not at all versed in the 2TC method but I'm confident I could inch my way down the tree using it if I had too.
 
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In 5 seasons of one sticking (well over 500 climbs) I've knocked my stick off the tree 3 times now during the climb and one time had a mechanical failure of a rappel device. All four times I had to perform some means of "self rescue", luckily always successfully. The key is to not panic in the moment and to fully evaluate your options. Luckily most of us already have some means for self rescue already on us if we take the time to consider them. I'll revisit each scenario here and explain what I did and what other options were available that I could have chosen from.

First Scenario: I was on an observation sit in the evening about 15 ft up. When it came time to get down I hooked up my rappel rope and got set to rappel down. The issue occurred when I pulled the release handle of the rappel device and it came off in my hand leaving me with no apparent way to release the device.
What I did: I simply transitioned back to my stick, staying on the rappel line and one sticked my way back down the tree. Not my preferred method of descent but it's very doable and I use the method occasionally throughout the season just to keep in practice.
Options: At that time I was carrying an ATC and short prussik as a back up and I could have swapped to it and completed the rappel. I've since removed the ATC from my kit but I could just as easily swapped over from the descent device to a carabiner with a munter hitch and rappelled using that.

Stick Drop Scenarios: I'll cover these as a group since the self rescue options are similar and plentiful enough that I've used a different one each time.
First Occurrence: Morning hunt climbing in the dark. I was on my second stick move when I think I pinched the tag end of my attachment rope under my foot stepping into the aider. At any rate when I stepped up the stick fell off the tree to the ground. Because it was dark and I couldn't make out the stick on the ground below I took my rappel rope from the pouch of the turkey vest I use as my pack and girthed it to the tree and hooked the rappel device into my bridge. I was able to release the tether friction hitch transferring my weight to my rappel device and then I simply rappelled down. I then retrieved the stick and restarted my climb using the rappel rope this time since I was already on it.
Second Occurrence: Evening hunt, I felt I was late getting into my spot and selecting a tree so I was hurrying on my climb. I was one stick up and I think I didn't get the stick attachment rope fully into the cam cleat and failed to "set" the stick prior to stepping into the aider. Once again the stick dropped off the tree to the ground. This time it was daylight and I could readily see the stick so I broke out the grapple and string I carry to retrieve stuff I've dropped while hunting and simply grappled up the stick while hanging in the saddle. Once it was reattached to the tree I simply continued my climb.
Third Occurrence: At this years Michigan saddle hunter's get together I was trying to demonstrate a setup to another attendee and tried to rotate my stick on the tree while I was hanging in the saddle. The rope went slack and the stick dropped to the ground leaving me suspended from the saddle about 15 feet up. I first attempted the transfer to my rappel rope as above but the friction hitch I use on my tether was set tight enough that I struggled to break it loose to transfer my weight to the rappel rope (FWIW, I'm confident I could have grabbed the hitch with both hands and pulled down on it and gotten it to release enough to transfer over but it wasn't the easiest option available at the time). My next step was to pull the platform from the pouch of my vest and attach it to the tree at waist level. From there I was able to climb up on the platform and unweight my hitch and complete the transfer to the rappel rope.

Unused Options: There are a couple of more options I can think of that would work for me in the "stranding hanging" scenario that I haven't used yet. The first, would be to take my linemans rope out and use it as a foot tether. That would allow me to unweight my climbing hitch enough to make the successful transfer to the rappel device.
The second option would be to simply use that "second tether" and 2TC down the tree. I'm not at all versed in the 2TC method but I'm confident I could inch my way down the tree using it if I had too.
The tiny biner with a string above the hitch it an easy "trick" to break them loose if they being naughty....it's just a tender above the hitch but with a strong string handle u can really pull hard if u had too. I just use an old shoe lace and ewo tender thingScreenshot_20240621-084344~2.pngScreenshot_20240621-084350~2.png
 
Early in my rappelling practice I had my hitch lock up about halfway down the tree. I still don’t know why it happened but I suspect it was an issue of rope/cord/hitch combo and coming to a fast stop resulting in a hard bite. I was stranded hanging on the tree until I thought to put my LB on. This allowed me to pull myself snug to the tree trunk, effectively unloading the hitch enough to let me release it. A few jerky repetitions of this and I was down.
 
I didn't really think about it much last fall as I was learning, as I was ascending/descending via sticks. That is very familiar from many years of fixed stand hunting. But as I dug into things more deeply, I learned about the 'whoopie sling' and made two this week.....one for each saddle. CGM sells them and also has a short instructional video on their website, which provided me with the motivation to be more prepared in 2024. I had a couple mini-flashlight cordura holders that barely fir them and then I zip tied them to my accessory pouch for easy access.....not having to dig around for them in a pinch.

Thanks for all who have shared thus far.....keep them coming. This is what makes SH a great site.....sharing techniques to keep each other well prepared and safe at height in the woods.
 
A second line and backup descender is the best way. I sometimes deploy it or simply have it accessible. That being said, I've never had to use a backup descent method ever.

Taking tension off via a footloop works for some situations, but doesn't consider a damaged descender or damaged/inaccessible main line
 
I always carry a foot loop to 2TC down if necessary. There are a million ways to skin a cat, but having a back up plan is always a great idea. Like said above as long as you are cognizant, you will already have all the stuff needed to get you down. That's the beauty of saddle hunting
 
I carry a homemade 7/64 amsteel daisy chain and carabiner, use it every hunt for my gear hanger (ifim going to carry it might as well have dual purpose), have only practiced fishing it out and using it as a temporary foot loop, but thankfully haven't had to use it in a real emergency during a climb/descent yet. If I were to be in a situation where it's on the tree and I slip off the platform or something, id have my extra tether/linesman belt in a pouch for the same purpose.
 
I carry a homemade 7/64 amsteel daisy chain and carabiner, use it every hunt for my gear hanger (ifim going to carry it might as well have dual purpose), have only practiced fishing it out and using it as a temporary foot loop, but thankfully haven't had to use it in a real emergency during a climb/descent yet. If I were to be in a situation where it's on the tree and I slip off the platform or something, id have my extra tether/linesman belt in a pouch for the same purpose.
Yeah. This ^^^^
 
I carry a homemade 7/64 amsteel daisy chain and carabiner, use it every hunt for my gear hanger (ifim going to carry it might as well have dual purpose),
Thanks, since I carry a daisy anyways, I am going to steal your idea. saves me another 3.1 oz. :)
 
Thanks, since I carry a daisy anyways, I am going to steal your idea. saves me another 3.1 oz. :)
I made the daisy chain so one side of the loop is slightly longer than the other, so that when it's tight in the tree I have just enough slack to clip in a s biner/hero clip. Makes it super easy to set on the tree and then put the bow/whatever where I want. I also generally just clip in the daisy to the carabiner and then hang my pack from the tag end, pack weight+ bark friction makes it plenty tight to the tree to stay in place for bow/water bottle/whatever else I hang from it. The uneven daisy loops may make it slightly weaker than an even brummel? But I'm not sure/it seems to be plenty strong for what I use it for.
 
I made the daisy chain so one side of the loop is slightly longer than the other, so that when it's tight in the tree I have just enough slack to clip in a s biner/hero clip. Makes it super easy to set on the tree and then put the bow/whatever where I want. I also generally just clip in the daisy to the carabiner and then hang my pack from the tag end, pack weight+ bark friction makes it plenty tight to the tree to stay in place for bow/water bottle/whatever else I hang from it. The uneven daisy loops may make it slightly weaker than an even brummel? But I'm not sure/it seems to be plenty strong for what I use it for.
Using a spare daisy chain as a tree strap is a great idea for doubling up functionality of gear. I can see using the biner for hanging a pack, but what do you use as a bow hanger? Have a photo of your rig in a tree? Thanks.....
 
Using a spare daisy chain as a tree strap is a great idea for doubling up functionality of gear. I can see using the biner for hanging a pack, but what do you use as a bow hanger? Have a photo of your rig in a tree? Thanks.....
I hang my bow from a gearaid hero clip. Not sure if I have photos I'll look...
 
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