IMG_9286‘I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up’: Safety During a Fall

Even when following proper tree stand safety protocols, accidents can happen. If you fall from your tree stand, what should you do?

If you used a fall-arrest system and a suspension relief strap, you will have taken an important step to protect yourself from serious injury, but you still need to return to a safe position. Here’s what you should do after a fall:

  1. Gather your thoughts. Unless you have done absolutely everything correctly (like having no slack in the tree tether when seated) the odds are you are going to need help before you can get back in your stand. You should have your emergency signal device such as a cellphone, radio or personal locator beacon on your person to call for help. Even if you get back on your stand, you may need help getting back down. Call or signal for help right away.
  2. Get back into the stand if you are able to. Your adrenaline will be pumping, so don’t make any rash decisions. Find the nearest foot peg or ladder step and use it to climb back into the stand. If you can’t find a foot peg or step, try to pull yourself back into the stand.
  3. Act fast to relieve the pressure on your legs by stepping into your suspension relief strap. Being suspended for any length of time can cause suspension trauma, which can be fatal. Hanging motionless and suspended in your fall-arrest system can cause the leg straps to constrict blood flow. The pressure can make blood pool in the legs, limiting circulation and depriving organs of oxygen. Stand up in the strap to relieve the pressure caused by the leg straps on your full-body harness.
  4. If you do not have a suspension relief strap, move your legs continuously by pushing off from the tree, or raise your knees and pump your legs frequently to keep your blood flowing until help arrives.

Prevention is the best protection against accidents. Always hit the field with safety in mind. You can study up on safe hunting methods at Hunter Ed and Bowhunter Ed; these sites offer state-approved training accepted by hunter education programs.

Share the video below to spread the message on tree stand safety.

Remember, incidents are preventable. You can do your part.

Preparing to Hunt From a Tree Stand

IMG_8171Stay Connected: Your Life Depends On It

According to the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, 3 in 10 hunters who use elevated stands will suffer an accident at some point in their hunting career. Those odds aren’t good.

Face it: Even though we know a fall could be dangerous, many hunters believe “an accident will never happen to me. I’ll be OK without a harness.”

The National Bowhunter Education Foundation also reports that 82 percent of hunters who have a tree stand accident weren’t using a safety harness.

Here’s the truth: Only Superman can defy gravity, and you are not Superman. A fall from a tree stand can result in serious injury or death.

To learn more about the nasty results of falling from a tree stand, we spoke with Dr. David Argo, an avid hunter and orthopedic surgeon for Beacon Orthopaedics in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Argo has not only operated on hunters who have fallen from stands, but has experienced a fall himself.

“I’m convinced that most hunters don’t grasp the severity of these types of falls until they experience them firsthand. Trust me, I’ve worked on many victims that have to live with mobility implications the rest of their lives because they didn’t wear a harness, or they tied a thin rope around their waist line,” said Argo.

What’s the take-home lesson? It can happen to you. Take the necessary precautions to stay safe in the stand. Hunter Ed recommends following a few important safety tips when hunting from tree stands.

Tree Stand Safety Tips:

  • Take your time; there’s no rush. Climbing into and out of stands is dangerous and should be done with great care. Make sure you maintain three points of contact at all times. The three-point rule should always be used in conjunction with a lifeline system, climbing belt or lineman’s-style belt.
  • Wear a fall-arrest system, which should include a full-body harness, a lineman’s-style belt and/or climbing belt, a tree strap, a tether, and a suspension relief strap. This hunter safety system will prevent you from falling to the ground if you slip out of your tree stand.
  • Use a haul line to pull up your gear. Climbing with a backpack or firearm strapped to your back is NOT SAFE! Once you are in the stand and fastened to the tree, you can pull your gear up.
  • Know your limits. Become comfortable with the stand you are in, and know the location of cables and other potential obstructions that could trip you up if you move around the stand.

Read up on tree stand safety and safe hunting methods with more tips from Bowhunter Ed.


Tree Stand Hunting Safety
Follow these safety tips and you’ll be able to enjoy many more hunts.

Target FixationImagine this situation: It’s a beautiful fall evening. You have your trusty rifle in hand and a buck tag burning a hole in your pocket. It’s been all day, but you haven’t found any game yet. Frustrated, you tromp into the meadow below. All of a sudden, you catch a flurry of brown and white out of the corner of your eye. You reposition to get a better look. Is it a buck? Is it a doe? Buck. All right! You lift your gun — but wait. Is it a legal buck? Do you even have a clear shot? Are you positive there’s not another hunter in the area?

Hurry up! He’s getting farther away with each passing second. Shoot… or don’t shoot?

Before you decide, you’ll need more information:

  • Have you positively identified that this is a deer?
  • Do you have an ethical shot? Is this deer, which you spooked and is running away from you, presenting an ethical shot? The Texas heart shot is not one you want to try. The responsible hunter waits for a clean shot, preferably broadside or quartering-away, where the animal’s vitals are well exposed.
  • Are you completely sure there isn’t another hunter or person in the line of fire or beyond? When in “the zone,” it’s hard to completely survey your surroundings to be sure of a safe shot.

Often, in the middle of the excitement, hunters enter “the zone.” In that tunnel-vision situation, you may misidentify an animal, make a dangerous shot, or be too close to other hunters or buildings. Target fixation can make those questions hard to answer.

It’s natural for hunters to get into “the zone,” but that can make you forget hunting safety rules.

Set up a safe hunting situation with the following steps:

  1. Set up in an area you are familiar with. Familiar hunting grounds are a best-case scenario. Being familiar with the land will help in the decision-making process of whether to shoot or pass. However, it’s not always possible. Regardless of where you are hunting, following these next tips can ensure your safety and the safety of others.
  2. Scan your surroundings constantly. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Are there any buildings in the distance? Are other hunters in the area? What potential dangers are nearby?
  3. Know your limits and the types of shots you can take. Broadside and quartering-away angles are desirable. Slightly quartering-away is a judgment call. Straightaway or head-on? Forget it; that’s not a good shot to take. Part of being a responsible hunter is respecting the game you are after and only taking responsible shots that will result in a quick and sure kill.
  4. Establish your effective range. Knowing your effective range is will help you make a decision in the field as to whether you should shoot or pass. If you don’t know your effective range, refer to your ammunition box or the manufacturer’s website for more information.
  5. Take a deep breath — or two, or three. In the case where you have decided to shoot, take a deep breath. Not only will this help you slow your heart rate and settle in for a clean shot, it will help you enjoy the moment! Taking a breath will also help relieve that target fixation and will allow you to collect your thoughts and make a sound decision.
  6. After your shot, pause and gather your thoughts. Take a moment: Is your safety on? Is your muzzle still pointed in a safe direction? Is your finger out of the trigger guard? Make sure you are obeying the rules of firearm safety, especially when you go to visit your trophy.

All in all, the adrenaline, the rush of excitement and the thrill of the hunt can distract you from important steps. Don’t let target fixation override your sense of safety. Be proactive in setting your boundaries, and think safety first. It’s as simple as that.


How To Stay Safe After The Shot

To learn more, visit Hunter Ed’s state-approved hunting education courses also discuss blaze orange, gun carries, ballistics, and much more to improve your safety in the field.

There are some topics in this world that divide people so strongly that it’s hard for people on opposite sides to have a real conversation about them. Those topics tend to be things people feel very passionately about — religion, politics, college football teams … and hunting.

Hunters know one thing about anti-hunters: They don’t want us to hunt any animals, ever. We love hunting, and we can’t stand the thought of someone taking away our opportunity to do it. On the other hand, anti-hunters know one thing about hunters: Hunters kill animals, and they don’t want that to happen — ever.

Now, why anti-hunters don’t want any animals to die, ever, is a much more complex story. It’s pretty safe to say that most of them don’t understand the natural world the way devoted hunters do. Anti-hunters probably haven’t seen the violent way predators like coyotes, bobcats, and wolves bring down their prey. In fact, it is safe to say that anti-hunters rely on some timeworn myths when they react so negatively to hunters.

1. Hunters have an unfair advantage, and animals are defenseless.

Modern rifles do allow hunters to kill animals quickly and humanely at hundreds of yards. However, in the whole world of hunting, most hunters must get much closer. And, while humans are out hunting game animals for three or four months of the year, other predators hunt their prey every day. So, prey animals have gotten very good at detecting and avoiding predators. These animals use very keen eyesight, hearing, and smell to avoid predators, and they can detect them at unbelievable distances.

African hunting dogs have the highest success rate in the entire world for catching their prey. They are successful 80% of the time. Compare that to one of their cousins, the wolf, which is another effective predator. Their success rate is somewhere around 10%. Almost all large ground predators — from bobcats to lions — will have a success rate of 5-30%.

Now, most people would assume — anti-hunters and hunters alike — that humans with modern technology would be much more successful hunters than animals. But, they would all be wrong. A recent study in Indiana showed a 20-22% “harvest per effort” rate in state parks for firearm hunters. That rate falls to 8-10% for bowhunters. Over the course of an entire white-tail hunting season, success rates will vary by state and region, with between 50-80% of hunters harvesting a deer, according to the Quality Deer Management Association.

But, those are statistics for an entire hunting season; wild predators would starve if they were only taking one prey animal over the course of months. Clearly, wild animals can successfully avoid human hunters most of the time.

2. Hunters don’t like animals.

It does seem strange, if you’re unfamiliar with us, to think that hunters could both love animals, yet shoot them and eat them. Hundreds of years ago, feeling affection for animals was probably a luxury that most people couldn’t afford. People were too busy hunting and gathering to think about or subscribe feelings and emotions to animals. They just saw their next source of a meal.

However, as we developed farming and ranching practices that could provide more than enough food for our families and society in general, free time allowed our minds to wander. People began to hunt animals for more than just food; it was an adventure, a return to our roots and nature, and for some, a competition for bragging rights. Somewhere in there, a few people began to think maybe hunting wasn’t right.

But most hunters today still have a deep love for the beauty and just plain awesomeness of animals. In Europe, a tradition began of giving harvested animals a “last bite” to show respect and thankfulness to the animal. Native Americans were particularly reverent about hunting, and their practice of thanking and asking forgiveness of the animal in prayer has carried on with many American hunters today.

At the very least, all hunters understand that we cannot hunt without animals, so that is why we devise so many laws, ethical guidelines and conservation rules to preserve them for the rest of our existence.

3. Hunting is about violence and is a product of a sick mind.somedays (1)

This is one myth that hunters might have helped create recently. We have not been careful about the way we portray ourselves. We have advertising and marketing that talks about “rage” and “weapons” and “attacking.” We have TV shows that show wild, loud celebrations when an animal is killed. That’s not the way any hunter I know approaches hunting, it’s just misguided marketing. The hunters I know seek to limit violence and pain, and their motivation is not the moment of killing, but all the challenges before and rewards after.

Every hunter I know has a brief moment of remorse when they are successful. Taking the life of an animal is serious. It is necessary, and it can bring happiness, but it is never flippant and is not adversarial. Sometimes we should look at ourselves while standing in a non-hunter’s shoes. Are we being respectful of life? Are we using words that should be applied to hunting … or to battle? Hunting is not a battle against animals. It’s not a game. It’s a means to feed ourselves. It’s a natural extension of our predatory instincts and motivations.

4. Hunters and poachers are the same people.

This is the most misguided myth. This is the one about which hunters can be really upset. As hunters, we spend our entire lives learning about hunting ethics and then passing them along to future generations. We intentionally make hunting success more difficult for ourselves. But poachers aren’t hunters … they’re criminals. Because of poachers, anti-hunters want to eliminate legitimate hunting, for example, where elephants are overcrowding. These anti-hunters seem to be blinded by the fact that poachers kill hundreds of thousands of elephants, often when legitimate hunters and safari operators are not allowed to act as police. These anti-hunters don’t seem to equate the amazing conservation successes of true hunters for the past 100+ years with the potential to eliminate poaching.

Just like in the misguided marketing mentioned above, there are always bad apples among our ranks who spoil the whole bunch of us in anti-hunters’ eyes — even if those hunters aren’t poachers: the guys who shoot more than they should, leave their trash in the field, and hunt illegally across fence lines. Anti-hunters don’t know we’re more ashamed of them than they are.

5. Hunting has something to do with misguided masculinity or conquering.

About 25% of U.S. hunters are women, and female participation in hunting is growing faster than men’s. Anti-hunters don’t know that, evidently (and when they find out, they tend to make sexist attacks on them). There is absolutely no difference in the ability of women to hunt when compared to men, and women have historically participated in traditional hunter/gatherer tribes around the world. Bigger, stronger men don’t have an advantage shooting a scoped rifle compared to women, children, or smaller guys. Maybe they can pull a stronger compound bow, but strength doesn’t help them aim straight.

Hunting can be challenging, and many of us like it that way. However, our joy in overcoming the challenges to be successful is not in “conquering” an animal, rather it’s enjoying our ability to be self-sufficient, to provide food, and to put our minds to work at accomplishing a simple, yet hard, task.

Think about why you hunt and why your friends and family do, too. You may never have the chance to convince an anti-hunter that what you do is really OK. But then again, maybe you will. If you get that chance, maybe this blog post will help you. As always, we would love for you to tell us in the comments other myths you’ve heard and how you would respond if you had the chance.