Remember ABCs for tree stand safety
The responsibility is yours.
Hunting is safer than ever these days, according to accident statistics compiled by wildlife agencies all around the country. Fewer hunters are getting shot by others.
Take Pennsylvania, for example.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has tracked hunting accidents since 1915. Only three years have there been no hunting fatalities – but all three have occurred since 2012.
The overall number of accidents is way down, too.
And it’s not just Pennsylvania. States all around the country are reporting similar trends.
But there’s one exception.
Injuries resulting from falls from tree stands are up, and significantly. Statistics show that falls are now the No. 1 cause of accidents among deer hunters nationwide.
"Any time you are above ground, you are in danger and you need to protect yourself," says Whitetails Unlimited, the deer hunting organization. "The statistics state that one out of three hunters who use an elevated stand will be injured."
That’s reflective of two things.
First, people hunt differently than they used to. More and more hunters – archers and firearms hunters – are using tree stands.
Second, not all those hunters are taking the necessary safety precautions. The result is some are getting hurt or even killed.
But staying safe is simple, and up to you.
In fact, the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation details what it calls its “ABCs of tree stand safety.” It looks like this:
Always remove and inspect your equipment. Do this before you ever start climbing, to be sure that your stand and all of its associated parts are present and in good working order. Thirty-five percent of falls, the Foundation says, are the result of faulty, missing or worn out equipment.
Buckle on your full-body harness. Almost all tree stands sold today come with a harness. If yours didn’t, or you need a new one, lots of them are available. Get one and learn how to wear it. Of hunters who get injured in falls each year, the Foundation said, 86 percent were not wearing a harness.
Connect to the tree before your feet leave the ground. The time to put on your harness and safety line – which connects your harness to the tree – is before climbing. The Foundation says 99 percent of fall victims – 99 percent! – were not attached to the tree.
Not all fall victims drop from the full height of their perch either. Six out of 10 hunters injured in a fall fell while climbing in or out of their stand, the Foundation reported.
Tell someone where you’ll be hunting and when you expect to be out of the woods, too
And finally, carry a radio or cell phone with you. There are gadgets out there that allow you to attach one right to your vest or harness, where they’ll be easy to access. Then, if you need help, and have cell service, you can reach out.
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See also: Tree stands new No. 1 danger to hunters.