Risk vs. Reward
The risk is just not worth the reward. Although tracking tree stand falls and the resulting injuries is not uniformly tracked from state to state, there are enough states reporting to give us a solid estimate to related deaths and injuries. According to the Tree Stand Safety Awareness (TSSA) initiative, nearly 1 in 10 falls results in DEATH. Out of every 10 hunters in this country that don’t properly secure themselves to a tree and fall, one does not make it home. Just like that there is a family without a Dad. A young wife without a husband. Parents that have to plan a funeral for their daughter. The hard truth is that you don’t get a second chance to make a better decision. When that stand shifts under you and you feel yourself starting to go, there is nothing you can do to affect the outcome.
What about the “lucky” ones that didn’t die? Broken ankles and femurs, fractured vertebrae, closed head wounds and lacerated internal organs are just some of the injuries we have seen and read about. In one such case, a young hunter in Indiana fell 16 feet from his tree stand and heard the snap of his own neck. Married just a few months earlier and expecting a baby in the spring, the young hunter’s prognosis was dire. He likely wouldn’t be able to breath on his own again and certainly would need 24 hour care for the rest of his life. The young newlywed made a decision and communicated to his family that he wanted to be taken off of life support. Just hours after removing his ventilator the young man passed away.
In 2015, there were 11 reported deaths from tree stand falls in the US. This doesn’t begin to address the significant number of injuries suffered and lives forever altered. The only thing we know for certain is this. Every single fall from a tree stand is 100% preventable and starting today the AHLA is making it a priority to ELIMINATE tree stand falls. Anything less than a complete elimination of tree stand falls is unacceptable.
The evolution of the safety harness and the education that accompanied that evolution has most hunters at least owning a safety harness. So, why aren’t they diligent in wearing them? We asked 1305 hunters that admitted to hunting from a tree stand, if they wore a safety harness. The results were nauseating. Of the 1305, 591 said they wore their harness every time they hunted. 308 reported they wore one most of the time and 406 told us they NEVER wore one. I would guess somewhere around 150 of the NEVER category were teenage kids, some even poking fun at their friends that were reporting they always wore their harness. I pray those kids never learn the hard way that there was a better answer.