11/08/12 Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating a tree stand accident that occurred around 6:00 p.m. Tuesday evening in Fulton County.  William (Bill) F. Hundt, age 69, from Bremen was hunting from an elevated tree stand before falling nearly 16 feet to the ground.  Hundt was unable to call for help due to the extent of his injuries.  Hundt’s wife contacted their son around 9:00 p.m. when he did not return home.  Hundt was located semi-responsive by his son at 10:18 p.m. who then called 911.

Emergency personnel from multiple agencies were on scene to assist with transporting Hundt out of the woods.  Hundt was taken to Rochester Woodlawn Hospital and then airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne with shoulder and back injuries.  Hundt was not wearing a safety harness at the time of the accident.  Agencies on scene included Fulton County EMS, Aubbeenaubbee Township Fire Department and Conservation Officers.

Falls from tree stands are the leading cause of deer hunting accidents in Indiana, accounting for almost half of all accidents.  In an average deer season, about 18 hunters will experience a fall resulting in injury.  With deer season upon us, Conservation Officers offer several safety tips while hunting from an elevated position.

Hunters should inspect their tree stands and hunting equipment to ensure they are safe before using.  They should also only use a tree stand that has the approval of the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and make sure to read the manufacturers warnings and instructions before installation.

Hunters should wear a full-body, fall arrest harness system that meets TMA standards.  Single strap and chest harnesses should not be used.  Never leave the ground until the full-body, fall arrest harness system is on.  Always have three points of contact with the tree when climbing and descending.

A hunter should never climb with anything in his hands or on his back.  A haul line should be used to lift a gun, a bow or other gear into the stand.  Firearms on a haul line should be unloaded with the action open and muzzle pointed downward.

Other safety tips include hunting with a buddy, telling someone the exact location of your tree stand before heading into the woods, getting a full night’s rest before a hunt, and making sure a cell phone, whistle, flare or some other signal device is on your person at all times.  Most cell phone calls to 911 can get a GPS location and assist emergency personnel when responding to remote areas.  A free tree stand safety course is available online at www.hunterexam.com/treestandsafety.