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Can’t be too careful with tree stands

by Minden Press-Herald

Turkey season has ended and it’s time to go fishing, or time to find other activities to do in the outdoors.

One of the things many outdoorsmen do this time of year is to give their deer stands the once-over before the weather gets too hot and the wasps take over. This is a great idea but after reading a post on Face Book recently, it’s also an activity that can get you seriously hurt.

The post reads in part as follows – “I never thought it would happen to me but it did today. I was working on a deer stand and it broke and I fell almost 20 feet. After a few hours in the ER, I walked out. A lot of guys never walk again or even go home after a fall like that. I want to tell all hunters to take the extra time to be safe; it’s worth it. It’s a bad feeling to be on the ground wondering if your back is broke or if any organs are ruptured and hear your 11 year old son crying ‘Daddy!’ because you can’t get up. Life can change in a second.”

Several other hunters responded to the post with some telling similar stories. In a nutshell, deer stands are great to give you an advantage when hunting but drop your guard for a second and you could get seriously hurt of killed.

Todd Buffington is Hunter Education Coordinator for several north LA parishes and we asked him to address the potential problems concerning elevated deer stands.

“We’ve reached the point in Louisiana where we’re having to deal with more accidents due to tree stands than we are of those involving firearms,” Buffington said.

“When you look at the statistics, the typical person involved in such accidents will probably surprise you. It’s a white male between the ages of 30 and 55 with at least 10 years experience hunting from tree stands. The problem is complacency. He convinces himself that he’s climbed up in his stand at least 100 times and has never had an accident. Why then should he fool with a safety device? He fails to realize that just one fall is all it takes to permanently injure or result in a fatality,” Buffington continued.
Even fooling with something as simple as a ladder stand takes special effort and assistance to do secure it safely to a tree.

“You need at least three people in putting up or taking down a ladder stand, two on the ground holding the stand against the tree and a third up top hooking and unhooking. There is no way that someone should try this by themselves.

“Lock-on and climbing stands should never be used without a safety harness. Anytime your feet leave the ground, you must have on a safety harness. They have come down in price and you can get a good one for under $50. You put it on like a vest, zip it up, hook a couple of buckles and you’re in business,” he said.

What about box stands? Surely getting in and out of a box stand doesn’t require special equipment, does it?

“You need to be tied in when getting in and out of your box stand. It’s simple to be safe; fasten a sturdy rope to the top and bottom of the stand and use a ‘prusik’ knot. You can Google this knot and see how simple it is to use and if done right and you slip, it will keep you from hitting the ground,” said Buffington.

For more information on tree stand safety, search on-line for the tree stand manufacturers association as well as the international hunter education association.

“The number one reason today for anybody having to go to the ER has to do with slips and falls. When the fall is from 10-15 feet up in the air,” said Buffington, “that’s some pretty serious stuff.”

Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden

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