Falls from elevated platforms are the leading cause of hunting accidents in Indiana, accounting for more than half of all accidents. In an average, about 18 hunters will report a fall.
Lt. Larry Morrison of the DNR Division of Law Enforcement said falls are preventable if hunters follow basic tree-stand precautions.
“If they are thinking safety, safety, safety, they should be just fine,” he said.
The first step toward elevated platform safety is to make sure the equipment is in working order. Only use an elevated platform that has the approval of the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and make sure to read the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions before installation.
Homemade elevated platforms should not be used and are not recommended.
Hunters should also wear a full-body, fall arrest harness system that meets TMA standards, to include a lifeline system. Single-strap and chest harnesses should not be used. Do not leave the ground until the full-body, fall arrest harness system is on and attached to the tree. Always have three points of contact with the tree when climbing and descending.
“Most of the falls occur while a person is ascending or descending,” Morrison said.
A hunter should never climb with anything in his/her hands or on the 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 elevated platform 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. In addition, the person should be familiar with the equipment they are using.
For more information and a short online safety course, visit www.hunterexam.com/treestandsafety.