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Tree stands can be treacherous
Sep 27, 2012 12:00 am
Deer archery season opened Sept. 22 and that meant thousands of hunters began taking to the trees.
Nowadays almost every deer hunter is convinced that he or she has to hunt from a tree stand to be successful. That’s partly due to the influence of TV hunting shows, and partly because stand hunting CAN be very effective. Hunting from a tree stand improves the field of vision in brushy areas and often affords better shot selection.
Also deer don’t look up very much when surveying for danger – or at least they didn’t use to. Today they’ve become more conditioned to hunters lurking high above ground.
I don’t hunt from tree stands. I guess it’s a generational thing. Back when I started deer hunting we hunted from the ground, and I still do.
I don’t oppose tree stands, they’re just not for me. But the majority of deer hunters use them, which is why the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency issues an annual warning to tree-stand hunters:
Tree stands can be treacherous, in some cases deadly, and precautions should be taken.
Tree stands left up from last year should be carefully inspected. That’s especially important for home-made stands that usually consist of a wooden platform wedged up in the tree forks and accessible by a ladder of boards nailed to the side of the tree.
Over the months wood rots, nails rust and the tree grows, loosening nails and causing the platform to shift. A tree stand that was solid and sturdy last December may not be so sturdy now.
Commercially-made tree stands left up since last season also need checking. Most such stands are made of metal and anchored to the tree with belts and straps which can wear and break. And even a small amount of tree growth can cause the stand to shift.
A few years ago an acquaintance in Hardin County climbed his tree stand to adjust its angle. When he un-snapped the belt from the tree the metal ladder sprang backwards, throwing him to the ground. His back was broken.
Don’t wait until opening day to inspect stands – and not just for wear and tear. Climbing into a stand in the pre-dawn darkness and discovering a wasp nest underneath the seat or a hornet’s nest hanging overhead can cause problems.
Even when the tree stand is solid and sturdy, hunters have to careful. Leaning and stretching to get a clear shot can cause the shooter to lose balance. Slipping on metal rungs or wet wood can cause a fall.
A lot of hunters aren’t in especially good shape, particularly early in the season. Climbing a steep, slippery ladder wearing bulky hunting clothing and loaded down with gear can be a challenge.
The use of a safety harness is always advised, but even such a harness can cause problems. A couple of years ago a Kentucky hunter was found dangling upside down from his tree stand, dead, his feet tangled in his safety harness.
His friends were stunned by the accident. They said he was a veteran hunter who was accustomed to hunting from a tree stand.
But he evidently slipped, when you’re perched high above the ground one mistake can spell trouble.