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Deer hunter falls to death from tree stand
Nov 21, 2012 12:00 am
Last week a deer hunter was discovered dead, lying under his tree stand from which he had fallen.
The 49-year-old Columbia man was hunting in Williamson County when the fatal accident occurred.
Officials investigating the accident said the home-made tree stand was 23 feet off the ground. The hunter’s gun was found hanging on a hook on the stand. No safety harness was discovered.
The man had left his home to go deer hunting earlier in the day, and when he failed to return home that evening his wife grew concerned and called their son. The son searched the location where his father was hunting and discovered the body.
While the accident was the first reported tree-stand fatality in Tennessee in recent years, numerous injuries from falls occur every season.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the majority of serious hunting injuries and deaths are related to tree-stand accidents.
“Most people probably think that hunters get hurt or killed mostly by accidental shootings, but it’s actually tree stands that cause the majority of serious injuries of deaths,” said TWRA spokesman Doug Markham.
Deer hunting from tree stands is popular because it is effective – the elevation gives hunters a better view of the area and more shooting opportunities – and also reflects the influence of TV hunting shows which feature hunters in stands.
“Hunters like to be above deer because they want a sight advantage,” Markham says, “and also because they want to avoid being smelled by deer as much as possible.”
But as effective as tree stand hunting may be, it can also be extremely dangerous.
“What happens is that hunters sometimes don’t follow safety procedures for climbing up in a tree stand,” Markham says, “and they fall from their perch.”
Deer archery season opened in September, muzzleloader season began Nov. 3, and gun season opened Nov. 17 and runs through Jan. 6. An estimated 200,000 Tennessee deer hunters will be in the woods, many of them sitting in tree stands.
Prior to the season the TWRA issued a reminder to hunters to take precautions when hunting from a tree stand.
Stands should be inspected to make sure they are secure, and in the case of home-made stands, to see that boards haven’t rotted or nails rusted or worked loose.
Climbing a steep ladder can be difficult, especially when wearing heavy hunting boots and bulky clothing. Often ladder rungs are wet or icy, adding to the danger.
Also, the climbing is generally done in the dark or faint pre-dawn. And once a hunter is settled in it’s not unusual for him to become drowsy and nod off as the morning warns up.
Hunters are advised to wear a safety harness. But that’s not fool-proof. Last year a hunter in Kentucky was found hanging upside down from his stand, dead, his feet tangled in his safety harness.
Spotting a big deer makes every hunter excited and jittery and may cause him to slip or lose his balance as he prepares for a shot. Perched high off the ground, one mistake can be fatal.