Hunters: Be safe in your tree stands

Published 9:11 pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kevin Clark of the Central Alabama Co-op displays a safe tree stand for hunters. -- Rick Couch

Big numbers in deer hunting are usually a good thing. Each year hunters head to the woods in hopes of gathering a trophy buck that will challenge the Boone and Crockett records.

Unfortunately, during the 2010-2011 season another number increased that has authorities pleading to outdoorsmen and women to practice safe techniques.

Ray Metzler, hunter education program coordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said there were 14 tree stand accidents during the deer hunting season.

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Metzler says that is the highest number of such deaths ever recorded in Alabama.

He said he isn’t sure why the number of deaths is up over previous years.

Though deer season has come to a close, hunters are still hitting the woods and using tree stands to pursue other game like wild hogs.

In six of the reported accidents recorded during deer season, the nylon strap securing the treestand to the tree broke and caused the hunter to fall to the ground.

The nylon straps broke due to dry rot as a result of being left in the woods for periods as long as several years.

According to N. Gunter Guy Jr., commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, proper treestand safety precautions including inspecting all treestand equipment could have saved more lives this year.

“We value the lives of all Alabamians and encourage hunters to ensure they make it home safely by testing their safety equipment before and after each hunt.”

These few simple hunting safety tips are life savers:

  • Inspect your safety harness, stand and tree before each use.
  • Always wear and use a full body harness anytime you are climbing, sitting, or descending from an elevated position.
  • Always pull your gun or bow up with a pull up rope.  Firearms should be unloaded, action open, and safety on.
  • Inspect all safety devices when you take down your treestand at the end of the hunting season, including the full body harness and devices securing the treestand to the tree.
  • Re-inspect everything again before the next hunting season.