What would you think are the most common hunter accidents afield? Years ago, injury from being shot may have been your answer. Stereotypical drunken slob hunters may have been your response. Today most injuries come from a less obvious reason.
Over 6000 hunters require medical treatment annually from a hunting accident. Alcohol and drugs contribute to a minimal amount of accidents. Shootings from archers, guns, or rifles could also be lethal. These numbers are down 90%, from 100 years ago, thanks to hunter safety training, florescent orange, and education.
The biggest accident problem is from Tree Stand Hunting. Archers tend to use tree stands more than rifle or gun hunters. Elevated stands allow the hunter to stay aloft to ambush their quarry.
Many accidents occur when the stand is being erected. It is hard to use a safety strap until the stand is secured to the tree. Even with someone supporting the base of the ladder stand, things can shift. Self-climbers can slide or come apart. Trees can crack, tilt, or break.
Most tree stand accidents happen as the hunter steps on or off the stand. They have not yet secured their safety strap or use a cheapo strap or restraint that does not keep them secure. Stands can be wet or icy. After sitting for hours, the hunters are often exiting in low light and anxious to get home. They unhook their safety strap and rush. Whoops, there it is!
A full body harness is the best way to go. If you fall, this restraint will keep you upright. A waist strap belt design will often hold you suspended upside down. Once you are dangling, time is important. You need to get support quickly. Blood circulation will be restricted, and numbness follows. Be prepared to grab the tree, steps, or ladder and gain control of your stance. A length of rope or a strap to step in will help you gain control of the uncomfortable situation. Otherwise you may die.
Despite education and safety lessons, less than a third of tree stand hunters wear their harness the entire time when aloft. There are techniques to stay hooked up the entire time. It is a choice to not be safe in the tree stand. Around 20 percent of hunters don’t use a harness at all! This is just asking for an accident to happen.
Strap in and stay safe! Please!
For more Montana Grant, find him safely afield at www.montanagrantfishing.com.