Something Fishy

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

More serious accidents from deer stands than from gun mishaps

        Bow deer season has been open for more than a month, and this weekend thousands of hunters will take to the woods and fields as modern gun season opens. It is a fun time and a time when hunters hope to bag venison for the freezer.
  Hoosier firearms season opens Nov. 12 and runs through Nov. 27. Muzzleloader season is set for Dec. 3 through 18.
It was sad to hear a Poseyville bow hunter lost his life when he fell from a tree stand from which he was hunting. Several other non-fatal falls also have been reported.
Many hunters make use of tree stands to await deer passing on trails below. It’s an effective hunting method, but it also is dangerous. It’s something many hunters don’t want to read about, hear about, or talk abaout.
I’ve spent my share of time in tree stands. However I’ve added age and lost some mobility in recent years, and several years back after nearly falling from my portable stand, I decided to give it to a friend. I can have just as much fun sitting under a tree.
A number of years ago while at an Indianapolis hospital, a nurse who knew about my outdoor wriiting, asked if I would be willing to visit a couple patients. I was happy to do so.
Both of the patients had fallen from tree stands. Both were at least partially paralyzed. They were in reasonably good spirits and both vowed to hunt again someday, but not from tree stands.
The visits made a lasting impression.
With firearms deer season approaching in Indiana , hunters should understand the risks of hunting from a tree stand and how to protect themselves from a fall.
  According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, falls from tree stands are the leading cause of deer hunting accidents in Indiana , accounting for almost half of all accidents. In an average deer season, about 18 hunters will experience a fall.
Lt. Bill Browne of the DNR Division of Law Enforcement said  in a department news release, falls are preventable if hunters follow basic tree-stand precautions.
  “If they are thinking safety, safety, safety, they should be just fine,” he said.
  The first step toward tree stand safety is to make sure the stand is in working order. Only use a tree stand that has the approval of the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and make sure to read the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions before installation.
  Hunters who use homemade tree stands should check them thoroughly for stability prior to using, especially stands that are exposed to weather from being left outside year-round.
  Hunters should also wear a full-body, fall arrest harness system that meets TMA standards. Single-strap and chest harnesses should not be used. Do not leave the ground until the full-body, fall arrest harness system is on. Always have three points of contact with the tree when climbing and descending.
  “Most of the people falling are falling while they are ascending or descending,” Browne said.
  A hunter should never climb with anything in his hands or on his back. A haul line should be used to lift a gun, a bow or other gear into the stand. Firearms on a haul line should be unloaded with the action open and muzzle pointed downward.
  Other safety tips include hunting with a buddy, telling someone the exact location of your tree stand before heading into the woods, getting a full night’s rest before a hunt, and making sure a cell phone, whistle, flare or some other signal device is on your person at all times.
  For more information and a short online safety course, visit

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