Tis the Season, Hunting Season that is, Safety tips for Hunting in a Tree Stand
As a Deer Hunter myself who prefers to hunt with a bow and arrow, I hunt predominantly out of a tree stand 20 feet above the ground. This presents many hazards that are not common with people who hunt on the ground level. The most common accident in a tree stand is pretty obvious, falling from the tree. Bow hunting takes a lot of balace and movement when drawing back, it's fairly easy to lose your footing when you are standing on a platform 20 feet above ground that's a mere 2 feet wide and 2 feet long. That's why it's a requirement by law here in Texas to wear a safety harness while hunting in a tree. However, people ignore this law quite frequently and find themselves in the ER because of a fall. The article below shares some statistics on tree stand falls and I included a safety tips article for tips to stay safe this hunting season.
From this story in USA Today:
As deer hunting season gets underway around the country, trauma surgeons in Ohio have a message for hunters: It's not the guns but the trees that will get you. A 10-year survey of hunting-related injuries at two major trauma centers in Ohio found that falling out of trees is how the majority of deer hunters are injured. "More and more frequently, we're seeing people showing up in our emergency rooms that weren't shot but who fell out of tree stands," says Charles Cook, a trauma surgeon at the Ohio State University Medical Center and author of the study, which is in this month's edition of The American Surgeon, a medical journal. Tree stands are platforms that allow hunters to perch between 10 and 30 feet above the ground and wait, out of sight, for game to come by. They're mostly used in the Midwest and the South, almost always to hunt deer. Tree stands first became commercialized in the 1970s, and by the 1990s there were more than 100 manufacturers, says John Louk, executive director of the Treestand Manufacturer's Association.
According to the Ohio study, half of hunting-related injuries that sent people to the hospital were caused by falls, 92% from tree stands. Gunshot wounds made up 29% of injuries. Very few of the injuries (2.3%) were related to alcohol use. "You fall from that height and something's going to break," Cook says. "We just admitted a guy this morning who fell out of a tree and is now a paraplegic."
Tree Stand Safety
THINK SAFETY FIRST WHEN USING A TREE STAND
Though commonly used by deer hunters everywhere, tree stands often are improperly installed. As a result, they are considered the leading cause of hunting-related incidents. Be sure to review this safety information before heading to the woods:
When using a non-climbing portable or ladder stand, hunters should securely fasten thestand to the tree and install ladders or steps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Hunters should ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer recommended and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
Hunters should ALWAYS attach their FAS in the manner described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into the tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with full body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may also be fatal.
Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have an alternate plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device.
Consider your personal physical condition before going out. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape from a FAS, it is recommended that you hunt only from the ground.
Hunters should ALWAYS use a haul line to pull their gear and unloaded firearm or bow into their tree stand. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower equipment to the ground on the opposite side of the tree.
Staying awake and alert is important. Hunters should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness prior to hunting. Also, never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
Hunters should always inform someone of where they are hunting and what time they expect to return.