— With the statewide hunting season in full swing, hunters are reminded of the importance of using safety devices while hunting from treestands. National studies show that approximately 10-30 percent of hunters who hunt from treestands will have an accident at sometime in their hunting time.
Some tragically will not live to detail what went wrong, while others will suffer lifelong injuries or even paralysis. Others will give up the sport entirely because of the emotional and physical impact. Many states yearly report that hunter fatalities associated with treestands exceed firearm fatalities.
Project Stand, launched by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, in conjunction with wildlife agencies, the hunting industry and the medical community are hoping they can bring awareness to the potential hazards of using treestands.
The NBEF notes that nationwide treestand sales number well over 1 million, with more and more hunters choosing to hunt from elevated stands, especially when pursuing white-tailed deer. With the number of older hunters afield each year, they were never required to take a mandatory hunter safety course which nowadays includes treestand safety. Only hunters born since January 1960 are required to take hunter safety. Treestands were not even common at that time, with homemade wooden platforms and stairs the preferred method of hunting from trees. Safety harnesses also were not part of the equation.
Today, every treestand sold comes with a video or DVD showing how to properly install and use a treestand and the highly-suggested safety harness. Medical responders also have been increasingly taught how to treat suspension injuries in hunters who suffered traumatic suspension injuries. Safety harnesses, if not used properly, can add to the injuries that can include suffocation, loss of blood supply and strangulation. When worn properly, the harnesses prevent many of these severe injuries, while preventing the hunter from falling to the ground.
NBEF notes that nearly 90 percent of hunters use elevated stands. Of those, 25 percent who fell from their stands sustained some sort of injury. According to Ohio state statistics, deaths from treestand falls were equal to or exceeded firearm deaths. NBEF added that of the 65 percent of stand owners who own a full body harness or fall arrest device, 55 percent do not regularly use them. Futher, most hunters do not climb to their stands while harnessed, adding to the possibility of falling.