New Territory in Tree Stand Safety
My first deer hunt came in my 27th year of life. One of my favorite uncles took me to a farm he had permission to hunt, put a gun in my hand and pointed me in the direction of a cut pasture. I made my way through the fog and dark to the open field and had a seat on the ground. Once the sun came up and the woods were fully awake, I noticed what looked like a chair or seat chained to a tree about 30 feet in the air above me. Clearly, it wasn’t anything I was interested in, but I did ask my uncle about it. He told me it was a tree stand that someone had left in the tree. He told me how much better I could see from up in a tree. He said it was the way most guys hunted. Frankly, I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. So, the next morning. . .I climbed on up.
FACT: Nearly 1 in 10 falls from a tree stand result in death.
It was a skinny tree. Real skinny. I am not (nor was I at the time). I sat on this flimsy seat with no strap or safety belt and tried to be or even act comfortable. I was holding my gun and literally just blowing left to right and back holding onto the tree. I remember looking down to the ground and back up and thinking “there is no way I could actually shoot this gun from here! I climbed down and assumed my usual seat on the ground, somewhat thankful I had survived the great tree seat debacle.
FACT: The average age of tree stand fall victims is 46 years old.
I don’t blame my uncle for sending me up that tree. After all I was 27 years old. (I do credit my parents for giving me the sense to climb down though.) Frankly, that’s just not the way he or any of his friends hunted back then. However, it does bring to light the position we are all in when we introduce someone new to hunting or the effect we have on younger hunters who are watching the way we prepare for a hunt and the precautions we take or don’t take. The fact is we are setting an example in tree stand safety every time we go afield that someone is likely paying attention to. Not only are they likely to draw conclusions from our routine, they are also likely to pass those same habits on to others.
FACT: 41% of all tree stand falls occur when the hunter is on the stand.