Deer hunting and tree stand safety
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The deer numbers are up and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds hunters that if they are hunting geese, deer or other wild game they need to focus on safe hunting practices.
According to a press release from IDNR, “Illinois’ hunting heritage is second to none, and we encourage hunters to make safety their first priority as they enjoy time in the field during our busy fall seasons and throughout the year,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan.
The IDNR Office of Law Enforcement, which administers the state’s Hunter Safety Education Program, found that there were 31 reported hunting incidents last year. Out of those hunting accidents, five of them were fatalities and 14 involved elevated tree stands. There have been six reported hunting-related incidents so far in 2021 and one is local in Calhoun County.
“We did have an accident last weekend. A man fell out of a deer stand. The stand was probably about 10 feet up in a tree stand. It was way up on the ridge, in the wood line I don’t know how extensive his injuries were but I know he was flowin to the Saint Louis area hospital. Apparently a strap broke on the ladder stand and the hunter fell out of it.” Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Heffington. According to the press release by the Conservation Police Officers’ investigations they have found that most accidents are preventable if safety practices are followed.
Timothy Tyler, director of the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement. “When hunting from a tree stand, hunters should always check that their stand is installed properly, and they should use a Fall Arrest System full body safety harness when in the stand.”
Among other safety considerations, hunters are reminded to ensure heating sources are ventilated properly when in hunting cabins and boats; wearing appropriate, high visibility clothing while hunting; and, being familiar with the area being hunted.
According to IDNR’s website, the most common injuries during deer seasons are accidents involving tree stands and elevated platforms. Hunters should follow the safety tips listed below when hunting from an elevated position:
“Before the hunt, read and understand the tree stand manufacturer’s instructions. Check tree stands and equipment for wear, fatigue and cracks or loose nuts/bolts, paying particularly close attention to parts made of material other than metal.”
“Practice at ground level. Learn how to properly wear your full-body safety harness.”
“During the hunt, wear your full-body safety harness. Use a tree stand safety rope, and make certain to attach your harness to the tree before leaving the ground, and that it remains attached to the tree until you return to the ground.”
“Maintain three points of contact during ascent and descent. Use boots with non-slip soles to avoid slipping.”
“Use a haul line to raise and lower firearms, bows and other hunting gear.”
“Make certain firearms are unloaded, action open, and safety on before attaching the haul line.”
“Carry emergency equipment, such as a cell phone and flashlight. Make a plan before you hunt. Tell someone your plan, including where you will be hunting and when you plan to return. Stick to your plan.”
“Identify the game before pointing a firearm. Know your target and what is beyond it.”
Illinois’ busiest hunting season, the seven-day firearm deer season, begins Friday through Sunday, Nov. 19-21, 2021, and will conclude Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 2-5, 2021.
The Illinois Archery Deer Season opened Oct. 1, 2021, and continues through Jan. 16, 2022. Archery deer season is closed during the firearm deer weekends except in those counties where firearm deer hunting is not permitted.
Other safety recommendations related to tree stands include checking the harness and straps and replacing worn straps; checking the ladder and other equipment before use to make sure they are in working order; and, being aware of weather conditions that could make steps and stands slippery. More tree stand safety information is available online at http://www.huntercourse.com/treestandsafety.