Hunter Falls 22 Feet From Tree Stand
Russ Chastain 10.17.17
Deer hunters typically spend a lot of time in tree stands. They help us get a better view, stay above animals’ normal line of sight, and elevate our scent to help us avoid detection. But that can all come at a price. Heck, my uncle took a tumble off a ladder to a permanent box stand and ended up having a couple holes drilled through his skull to relieve the resulting subdural hematoma, and he was just 5 or 6 feet off the ground.
But Dwight Jones of Macon, GA recently fell 22 feet from a deer stand. Not only did he live to tell about it, he doesn’t even have any serious injuries.
I stepped from the top climbing step onto a lock-on stand. Something gave way, and in an instant I was falling. As I began my fall, my body rotated 180 degrees with my head down and my boots skyward. I was very aware of what was happening and confident that my coming ground contact would not end up very well — as in death or permanent disability. I hit the ground hard and was surprised that I didn’t get the breath knocked out of me or even lose consciousness. My upper back felt like it was on fire, but I didn’t have any pain.
How could this happen? Turns out, he was saved by a boot and a backpack:
By the grace of God, my left snake boot had contacted a step (to the point that it punctured a hole in the side), which appears to have rotated my body from 90 degrees to about 70 degrees. My backpack broke the fall and kept my head and neck from making contact with the ground. Some say I was lucky, but I know it was a pure miracle.
He attributes the failure of the lock-on stand to neglect, saying he forgot to loosen the strap after the bracket had been on the tree for years. But anyone who relies solely on a fabric strap to hold up a tree stand is gambling with his or her life, in my opinion. I do not like lock-on or hang-on stands, largely for this reason.
But regardless of the cause, his fall could have been prevented by using a safety harness with a lifeline.
Of all the stands I put out this year, I didn’t put a lifeline on this one stand… [it was] pure complacency. Had I installed the lifeline, the episode would have been scary for sure, but I could have easily swung back to the stick and climbed back down, all for about $20.
To say it was a wake-up call for Jones would be an understatement. As an airplane pilot and hunter safety instructor, he is usually safety-minded, but he let down his guard and things went bad.
All hunters should draw a lesson from this. You can see what’s available in the way of lifelines at the Hunter Safety Systems website, and who knows, it might just save your life.