Treestand safety a must in Ohio woods this fall

Back in the earlier days of bowhunting – say, the early ‘70s – treestands were pretty primitive. So was treestand safety.

My first stand was a Baker Mighty Mite, small and easy to pack into the woods. Secure the wingnuts after swinging the upper arm around the trunk, a simple elastic loop around your boots, hug the tree, and up you go. Whop!-shimmy-whop-shimmy-whop up the trunk till you thought you were high enough.

If you were smart, you used a couple of belts, one around the tree and one around you, or even an actual set of wide nylon straps with a D-ring connecting them. For safety. Uh huh.

You got good at picking trees with thick bark soft enough for the hard lower edge of the stand to bite in a bit. It took only one chattering, sudden, elevator-drop of five or six feet down a hard-barked, slick trunk to learn how to pick climbing trees.

Well, enough of primitive-style treestand history. Still, too many of us have fallen, or swung crazily on a strap. Some of us are permanently injured, paralyzed. Some of us are gone, just remembered by our buddies at deer camp.

Treestands and safety harnesses have come a long way, improved many orders of magnitude, since the younger days of great enthusiasm but lesser wisdom. Which bring us to an upcoming event on Oct. 31.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife staff is conducting a treestand safety and Full Body Safety Harness (FBSH) demonstration that day, Halloween, at 12:30 p.m., at the District One Office at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus.

The scheduled guest speaker is Dr. Charles H. Cook, MD, FACS, FCCM. He is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Medical Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Ohio State University’s Medical Center. Dr. Cook will be available to address questions about injuries from treestand falls.

Despite safety and design improvements, hunters every year are seriously injured and killed from treestand falls. About one in three hunters will experience a fall from a treestand in his or her hunting career.

Last and not least, some reminders, however self-evident:

Always use a FBSH and read manufacturer instructions before use. And before using an FSBH in the field, practice at ground level.

Always use a climbing safety strap.  Most accidents occur when climbing up or down from a treestand.

Never climb with anything in your hands.  Always use a haul line to raise and lower your equipment.

More safety tips can be found on the Division of Wildlife’s Treestand Safety page at . An online Tree Stand Safety Course is offered by the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA).

If you want to attend the Oct. 31 program, call 1-800-WILDLIFE by Oct. 29.

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