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TN: Hunting accidents

September 19, 2010

Safety a priority for tree stands

... Because of their popularity with hunters and the inherent risk of falling, tree stand accidents are the leading cause of hunting accidents in Tennessee. There were a total of 20 hunting accidents reported during the 2009 hunting season, including three fatalities. Eleven of the 20 accidents, including one fatality, were related to the use of tree stands.

The tree stand fatality involved a 59-year old man hunting in Madison County during the gun season for deer. He was not a hunter education graduate and was using a simple safety belt that was attached around his waist.

According to the safety report prepared by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the man was climbing a tree with a climbing-type tree stand when the bottom part of the stand fell to the bottom of the tree. The safety belt around his waist prevented a fall, but the hunter was unable to pull himself up to relieve the pressure from the belt and he died hanging from the tree.

Causes leading to the hunter's death were failure to wear a full-body harness and failing to connect the bottom part of the climbing tree stand to the top part with a rope or strap.

A tree stand accident in Stewart County during the 2009 archery season left a 33-year old bowhunter with a fractured skull and broken vertebra. The hunter was in a tree stand and was wearing a safety harness. He was a hunter education graduate.

A nearby tree fell on to the victim's tree stand ripping off his safety harness and knocking him to the ground. Cause of the accident was listed as failure to check around the tree stand for decaying trees that might pose a hazard.

A 39-year old bowhunter in White County was hunting from a hang-on tree stand and was not wearing a safety belt. He had been hunting approximately two hours when he possibly fell asleep and fell from the stand. His fall resulted in a broken neck, vertebrae and ribs. He was not a hunter education graduate.

A review of the 2009 Tennessee Hunter Accident Report revealed that in nine out of the 11 tree stand accidents the victim was not wearing a safety belt or a fall restraint device. The National Bowhunter Education Foundation recommends that tree stand hunters wear a Tree Stand Manufacturers Association approved full-body harness. The NBEF noted a simple belt device can actually cause in injuries by focusing the force of the fall on a relatively small area.

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