Tree stand accidents on the rise
Dunmore, W.Va. – A Jackson County hunter was killed last month by a fall from a tree stand and West Virginia officials say tree stand accidents are increasing. 2011 was the worst year for tree stand accidents with 14 serious injuries and there already have been nine life-threatening injuries and one death this season, with gun season for bucks yet to open on November 19. Falls from elevated platforms are now the leading cause of hunting incidents nationwide.
The DNR offers the following advice for those planning to hunt using a tree stand.
1. Take the time to shop around and buy a safe and comfortable stand and a harness that’s right for you. Carefully read all instructions and warnings provided with your stand.
2. Practice setting up your stand and safety equipment at ground-level first. Use all recommended safety straps and pins to secure the stand.
3. You may get drowsy and fall asleep while in the stand. Wear your safety harness at all times when climbing, hunting and descending.
4. Choose a harness with a quick-release system that will hold you right-side-up and not restrict your breathing should you fall.
5. Inspect your equipment and replace any worn equipment immediately.
6. Choose as straight a tree as possible with no dead overhanging limbs.
7. Use extra care when hunting from a smooth-barked tree, such as aspen, hickory and beech, when it’s raining, they get slippery!
8. Avoid using elevated stands when it’s icy.
9. Always use a haul rope to bring gear to and from the ground and always unload your gun before hauling.
10. Most tree stand accidents occur when climbing or descending from the stand. Keep at least two points of contact with the tree at all times while climbing or descending.
11. Finally, be sure someone knows where you are and when you’re returning.
In other hunting notes:
Four national forest roads in Pocahontas County are available for physically-challenged hunters this season. Crooked Fork Road and Marlin Mountain Road in the Marlinton/White Sulphur Ranger District, Span Oak Road in the Greenbrier Ranger District, and Left Branch Road in the Gauley Ranger District are available for handicapped use. Hunters must obtain a Class Q or Class QQ permit and apply in person at the appropriate district ranger’s office or DNR district office before hunting. Qualified physically-challenged hunter will receive a letter of authorization, which must be in the hunter’s possession while hunting on the designated roads.
Deer hunters are reminded they can donate to the Hunters Helping The Hungry program. Over the last 20 years, nearly 800,000 pounds of venison has been made available to needy families across West Virginia. During the 12-day buck and concurrent antlerless season and six-day muzzleloader season, hunters can donate deer at two processing facilities in Elkins: Cole’s Meat Processing on Henry Avenue or Teet’s Meat Packing on Sunset Drive. For more information, call 304-924-6211.