Archery deer season just began on October 1 in Indiana and already the state has had three reported cases of injury from hunters falling out of tree stands. Most recently, a 54-year-old man from Burnettsville was attempting to remove a homemade metal stand from a tree on October 10. The stand bent and Harold L. Combs slid off, falling 20 feet and sustaining significant injuries. He regained consciousness and was able to drive himself to the nearest house to yell for help.
Four days earlier, two hunters fell out of their stands and sustained serious injuries. One, an 80-year-old Ligonier man hunting with his son, was trying to maneuver around the stand to step on the ladder when he fell 24 feet. An unrelated 18-year-old from Jasonville fell 20 feet when he was climbing up a tree branch that broke. He had played it smart and told his mom where he was hunting–he phoned her and she was able to direct help to him.
Unfortunately another hunter in Pennsylvania did not make it out so lucky. Seventy-year-old Robert Shaull from York County was hunting by himself when his tree stand apparently malfunctioned. The platform from Shaull’s stand detached, falling to the ground with Shaull still on it. When Shaull didn’t return home from hunting that night, his family went to his stand to find him facedown on the ground with his bow and the other part of his stand still in the tree. His was the first reported tree-stand death of the season.
Pennsylvania Game Commissioner spokesman Jerry Feaser spoke to ABC after the incident to advise hunters on the safety precautions that can be taken to avoid such a tragic end.
Feaser advised that hunters:
- Do not set up in a dead or dying tree because those are the unsafe tress. If the bark is already slipping off it it, don’t set up there.
- Read the directions before you put the tree stand together. Manufacturers know best about how to put your new piece of equipment together, make sure to follow their guidelines.
- Inspect the stand before you sit away and entire day in it, especially if it’s been sitting out all year and the season has just started. The straps should all still be secure and the nuts and bolts should be tight.
- Pay attention to the weather. If it’s too windy that day, it might not be a safe day to go hunting.
- Use a tow rope to haul up gear once you yourself are safe and secure in the stand.
- And last, but surely NOT LEAST, wear a harness, the ultimate lifesaver. None of the hunters in the aforementioned examples were wearing a harness. If you think they may be costly, think of the cost of medical care and time spent away from work.