Doctor offers deer hunters some safety tips
Gloversville, NY — With deer hunting season in full swing, Dr. Todd Duthaler, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Nathan Littauer Hospital, would like to remind hunters about the dangers of tree stands. The tree stand is a popular piece of hunting equipment, one which affords the hunter a good vantage point. But that same piece of equipment can be dangerous used recklessly or carelessly.
Nationally, one in three hunting injuries involves a tree stand. Dr. Duthaler states that he has witnessed the results of tree stand falls in his emergency department. “They usually result in broken bones.” stated the Doctor. He added, “Most concerning though, is that most tree stand falls involve people who are alone and far from help.”
The Center for Disease Control found that the average stand was placed 16 feet above the ground. That height can cause serious injury if a hunter was to fall. The Doctor explains that although he does not know the exact number, he has witnessed “many tree stand injuries during past hunting seasons”. The Doctor states that his single most important tip is to wear a safety harness while hunting in a tree stand. Although, wearing a harness is not enough. He explains, “I prefer a full-body harness that supports a person’s weight by the torso and legs. More importantly, keep your tether short to prevent long falls. If a tethered person does fall, help them by allowing them to right themselves using the tree stand, refraining from releasing them or cutting the tether.”
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, “Serious injuries and deaths from tree stand falls are increasingly common.” They offer the following safety tip, “Don’t go too high. Remember that the higher you go, the smaller the vital zone on a deer becomes. And the likelihood of a serious injury escalates if you fall from high up. Usually, 15 to 20 feet is high enough.”
Doctor Duthaler also likes the safety tips the Department of Natural Resources, out of Maryland uses. To help prevent tree stand accidents, they offer the following safety precautions:
- Never carry equipment with you while climbing. Use a haul line to raise or lower your gear. Make sure guns are unloaded and broadheads are covered prior to raising or lowering firearms or bows with a haul line.
- Since most accidents occur when hunters are climbing up or down a tree, always use a climbing belt. Always use a safety belt or harness when hunting from elevated tree stands. Study manufacturer’s recommendations before using any equipment. Never use a rope to replace a safety belt.
- Check permanent tree stands every year before hunting from them, and replace any worn or weak lumber.
- Read, understand and follow the factory recommended practices and procedures when installing commercial stands. Inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts each time they are used.
- Choose only healthy, living trees when using climbing devices. Rough-barked trees such as oak are best. Do not use a tree that is rotten or has dead limbs.
- Never put all your weight on a single branch. Keep at least one hand and one foot on a secure place when reaching for the next hold.
- Climb higher than the stand and step down onto it. Climbing up onto it can dislodge it.
- Wear boots with non-skid soles, because steps or platforms can be slippery in rain, sleet or snow.
- Tell a dependable person where you’re hunting and when you plan on returning. Map your whereabouts and leave a note at camp, at home or in your car so that you can be found.
- Don’t fall asleep. This is a common cause of accidents. If you get drowsy, move your arms rapidly until you feel alert.
- Never wear a ring in any climbing situation. Rings can catch on tree limbs and equipment.
- As a precautionary measure, remove all logs, upturned and cutoff saplings, rocks and other obstructions on the ground below the tree stand.
- Use updated equipment. When used properly, newer tree stand equipment is solid, safe and secure. Older models of safety belts offer some protection, but newer safety harnesses offer more protection.
- Carry a whistle to call for help and carry a first aid kit, flashlight and cellular telephone in a fanny pack.