Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Buckle up!

© By Othmar Vohringer

Every time a hunter climbs into a treestand he or she has the potential of getting hurt or even killed. According to the hunter accident statistics the majority of hunting accidents involves treestands. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, given that treestand manufacturers include safety harnesses with every stand plus print labels onto the stand and explain in great detail in the owner manuals why it is important to wear this safety devices the moment we attempt to climb up a tree.

I am equally surprised to realize, given the statistic, how many hunters ignore these safety instructions. The excuses from those that do not wear a safety harness are unbelievably naïve, a better description probably would be childish irresponsible.
“It takes to long to put a harness on.” What that hunter is saying is that his life is not worth a two minute effort.

“I am not a sissy besides I know what I am doing.” What this hunter is saying is that he rather would break his neck than been perceived as a responsible adult that can make common sense decisions for himself.

“It’s my life and I can do with it as I wish.” What this hunter is saying is that he doesn’t care about his family, his children and friends.

Treestand safety is every hunters responsibility. The choices we make in life do not only affect us alone but everybody around us too. Treestand hunting is a very successful and safe tactic, provided we use just a little bit common sense.

  1. Never hunt from a treestand that you have not personally inspected and made sure it is attached and maintained properly.
  2. Before and after the hunting season inspect all your stands for wear and tear. If you discovered worn parts exchange them with manufacturer recommended parts before you use them. The common sense rule here is if a part looks worn it probably should be replaced before you use the stand.
  3. Avoid hunting from permanent treestands made of wood. Over the years the wood starts to root and these treestands become highly unsafe.
  4. Before you use a new treestand read the owner manual carefully. Never hang the stand on a tree that is smaller or larger than recommended by the manufacturer.
  5. Before you use a new treestand practice hanging the stand and getting in and out of it at two to three feet above ground until you become familiar with the equipment.
  6. Always use a safety device the moment you make the first step of the ground. Most modern safety harnesses can easily be adapted to a climbing and safety harness combined. A climbing belt secured to the harness will free both your hands up to hang the stand on to the tree. Climbing treestands can slip and a climbing belt will make sure you do not fall when the stand does.
  7. Do not climb to your stand with the rifle, bow or other equipment on you. Attach these items to a haul line long enough for the height of your stand and then pull these items up to you once you’re safely secured in the treestand.
Firearms, bows and other equipment we use in the treestand should be given safety considerations too. A modern bow or rifle costs a lot of money to buy plus time and effort to get proficient with it. Wouldn’t it make sense to protect this investment? Of course it would. As we sit in our stands and wait for legal shooting light we get a little sleepy, some hunters might even take a short power nap. It is these times were a bow or rifle held on our lap easily could slip from our grasp and fall to the ground. The damage that could occur from such a fall can be considerable and expensive to repair.

Even if no damage occurs, which is unlikely, the hunt would be spoiled for that day. If a fall occurs to a firearm the scope can be damaged beyond repair. There could be more serious consequences though than just damage to the rifle or scope. The firearm could accidentally discharge. Don’t take this lightly. Even if the safety switch is on the shock from the fall of the rifle, hitting hard onto the ground or the tree trunk can cause the gun to fire. If the hunter is lucky the bullet from such an accidental discharge will do no harm but it just as easily could hit him or another hunter walking through the area.

There are a few very simple inexpensive things we can do to protect our equipment from damage through falls from the stand. An additional tree step or hook screwed into the tree at a convenient height for you will serve nicely as a bow hanger. A second hook can hold all the other gear, such as daypack, game calls and even the lunch bag.

To secure my rifle in the treestand I use an ingenious little device called GunThriver. The Michigan based company Gun Safety Innovations came up with an idea how to keep a firearm safely teetered to the treestand and yet still be flexible enough to maneuver the gun around and aim with it in any direction and all the time the weapon is safe from falling. While I never had a firearm fall from a stand yet –it came close a few times though – the GunThriver has given me a great sense of confidence in the protection of my rifles, muzzleloaders and the scopes. There are a few products that I think are really useful and this is one of them. You can read a review of the GunThriver here.

Please be safe this and all hunting season, don’t become a statistic. Have a great hunting season and come back here to tell me all about it.

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7 comments:

SimplyOutdoors said...

I will never understand not using a safety harness. There is just no excuse, especially with the very safe and reliable safety straps on the market today. They take little effort to put on, feel just like a vest and could go along way to save your life.

Lets put the safety straps on guys. It only makes sense.

Kristine said...

Thanks for the reminder about the treestand safety tips. It does only take a moment to protect your safety, and the benefits are so worth it.

Thank you also for mentioning the GunTriever. I appreciate it.

Othmar Vohringer said...

You’re so right Arthur. I lost a good friend 15 years ago to a treestand accident. He too thought that a safety belt is for sissies and has paid with his life for it.

Even a rope tied around the waist and attached to the tree is much better than nothing at all.

-ov-

Othmar Vohringer said...

Absolutely Kristine, It takes two minutes to save a life, considering the alternatives and the hardship to the family, two minutes are nothing in comparison.

You’re very welcome. I truly believe that the GunThriver is a good product to secure the firearm. It has given me peace of mind knowing that my rifle, slug gun or muzzleloader is safely tethered to my treestand. Just the other day I meet a hunter in the gun shop that needed repairs done to his rifle and the scope because it fell out of the treestand. When I told him about the GunThiver he liked the idea of spending 20 something dollars compared to his rifle/scope repair bill of 600 dollars.

-ov-

Rick Kratzke said...

A lot of hunters don't think about wearing some type of harness until it's too late I'm afraid.
I game close to falling out a couple of times but then again I was happy I at least had a safety belt.
Mt friend although didn't one day and fell out after falling asleep. Fortunately he land in the swampy water which cushioned the fall.

Othmar Vohringer said...

I think everyone that hunts long enough from treestands will one day come close to falling. My wakeup call came years ago when I set up a stand. I was just about to put the second set of ladder up when I slipped. Luckily I still had one foot on the ground.

Your friend was very lucky most fall onto the hard ground and have to live for the rest of their lives with pain or even disabilities. It’s just not worth it to risk an accident.
-ov-

Carol said...

I think I'm a safety freak. I buckle up every time. In the car, in a cab... and most especially when I'm on a higher ground.

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