column and photo by Josh Boyd:
Archery season is now in full swing across the bluegrass state, with several area hunters already experiencing some early success. With a large number of outdoorsmen and women heading to the woods, many individuals will be spending some quality time perched high among the timber in a treestand. From this elevated observation point, an abundance of great hunting opportunities can be experienced.
Unfortunately, countless numbers of hunters across the nation suffer accidents while hunting from a treestand every year. The majority of these accidents result in major bodily injury or even death. Even more tragic is the fact that the greatest portion of these accidents could have been avoided in their entirety, had a proper treestand safety regimen been adhered to at all times.
Treestand safety starts the very moment that you begin to hang your stand. As you begin to secure your stand to the desired tree, much care should be taken to adhere to all manufacturer guidelines during installation. All straps should be double checked for proper tension and the stand should be ensured against any free movement before ever being climbed into. A treestand should also never be altered in any way, as this can undermine the capacity for a stand to be used safely.
If an existing treestand is to be hunted, it is advisable to conduct a visual inspection of the site prior to hunting from the designated location. Hold down straps securing both the stand, and the ladder segments should be checked for condition, as well as proper tension. Careful attention should be given when inspecting these straps for any damage, as squirrels are notorious for the chewing of such items.
When hunting from a treestand, the use of a safety harness is highly advised. Many hunters claim that a harness is uncomfortable and limits their range of movement. However, there is an endless array of harnesses on the market today. Many units are offered at a price point well within the budget of most, all the while offering the ultimate in both comfort and maneuverability.
No matter the argument, against the use of a harness while in the stand, all opposed to their use should consider how a debilitating fall would affect their loved ones. No hunter is likely to find comfort in the thought of leaving their family to fend for themselves in their absence. If for no other reason, a hunter should highly consider the use of a harness for the benefit of those who depend on them and await their safe arrival home from the stand.
In recent years, the development of lifeline systems have revolutionized treestand safety. These units allow a hunter to be tethered to the tree that they will be hunting out of, from the time their feet leave the ground, until they descend safely. The development of such systems have provided security for hunters during the climbing portion of their hunting when they are statistically most vulnerable to accidents.
There are also several items of treestand safety that are often overlooked, but also vital to a hunter's well being. Tasks such as making certain that a tree for a stand site is not situated at an inappropriate or unstable angle, or ensuring that a tree chosen for such use is not dead or in a decaying state, are also concerns of vast importance. Likewise, when proceeding to climb into any treestand, care should be taken to ensure that its platform is free of slip hazards such as ice, snow, branches, or leaf litter.
Archery season should be a time of sharing adventures with friends and family. However, every year for numerous families across the nation, it is a time for picking up the pieces and beginning to rebuild a shattered life due to a tragic fall suffered by a loved one while in the woods. This year make memories, not missteps. Hunt safely, your life depends on it.
Note: the thoughts and opinions expressed by Edmonson Voice guest columnists and authors of submitted articles are their own, not necessarily those of EdmonsonVoice.com