December 4, 2006 - Admin

Safety First When Using a Tree Stand

Many deer hunters only give tree stand safety a passing thought, thinking an accident won’t happen to them. But falling 30 feet out of his deer stand, crushing the bones on the right side of his body and crawling a quarter-mile for help during the 1996 deer season was enough for Dee Dee Garvin to become a vocal advocate for hunter safety.

“Safety is something you should never take for granted; it’s something you put first in everything you do, whether it’s driving a car or climbing a deer stand,” said Garvin, a regional coordinator for the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF). “In a matter of 35 minutes from the time I got out of the bed that morning, I came to the realization that hunting, fishing or anything else, for that matter, is not worth risking your life for.”

After a hospital stay and months of rehabilitation, Garvin was able to resume the outdoor activities he loves. Through his duties at the NTWF’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen program, which helps people with disabilities to get outside to participate in a more active lifestyle through local chapter events nationwide, he tells his story and explains the importance of tree stand safety.

Like Garvin, Carl Brown, Chief Operating Officer for the NWTF, is an avid deer hunter. A fall from a tree stand several years ago changed the way he now prepares for all of his hunts.

“The idea of safety first really hits home after an accident,” said Brown. “I never hunt without making sure all safety measures are in place. It’s something I wish I had always done.”

In many hunting situations, tree stands allow the hunter to see game better, and help reduce the amount of human scent on the ground. While positioning yourself in a tree sometimes gives hunters a better view, serious injury and even death can occur when all safety precautions aren’t taken.

As CEO of the NWTF, Rob Keck has hunted many different species in many different places. But regardless of the game he’s after, his main focus is always hunting safely.

“Being safe in the woods is something we can’t stress enough,” said Keck. “A hunter must be a good defensive hunter, just like being a defensive driver. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way by careless decisions.”

To help hunters stay safe, the NWTF has compiled a list of useful tips for hunting out of tree stands.

  • Understand the stand: Manufacturers’ warnings and instructions should be read before using the stand. Practice climb before the season, and use all provided safety devices. If there are any questions, call the manufacturer.
  • Wear a Fall-Arrest System/Full Body Harness: These devices are the best method to keep you from being hurt in a fall. Single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer the safest restraints available; in fact, single-strap belts can cause internal injury when the wearer’s weight suddenly jerks them tight. Furthermore, the pressure from a single strap or chest harness on the abdomen or chest can cause rapid loss of consciousness.
  • Climb with care: When a hunter is climbing and getting into or out of the stand are the most dangerous times. Always put on a full body harness before climbing.
  • Use a pull rope:Sometimes called a haul line, this is used to pull gear, including firearms and bows, to the tree stand once the hunter is safely positioned.
  • Don’t load your firearm until you are secure in your stand.
  • Always let someone know where you are. Leave a note at the house or on the windshield of your vehicle stating where you will be and what time you expect to return. Also, take your cell phone. You never know when you will need it.

For more information about the NWTF, call (800) THE-NWTF or visit the web site at www.NWTF.org.

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