As we fast approach the advent of the 2020-21 archery deer hunting season, my mind ponders over the vast numbers of hunters that are injured or killed each year in a variety of accidents.

That’s a poor way to start what should be a column about a season of fun and accomplishment, but the facts speak for themselves. Every year hunters that leave home with intentions of a fun day in the outdoors and possibly a chance at that big buck of their dreams never return or find themselves severely injured.

The smarter of these hunters have hunted with partners who have rescued them and aided in their recovery. Others have advised family members of their hunting locations and how to find them in the event they don’t return at a specified time. The luckiest are still conscious after the fall or other accident and have a cell phone signal. The cell phone is one of the best insurance policies following that of good safety practices.

Going back to the start of this hunt that could be disastrous, let’s explore what should have been done to avert it happening in the first place.

There are many possibilities for accidents in the average whitetail deer hunt, with falls from tree-stands being at the top of the list. Inspecting older stands for stability and good restraints prior to the day of the hunt is imperative. The straps wear and deteriorate with age, and should be changed regularly. Most hunters don’t climb trees or ladders on a daily bases and are not as stable or agile as they think they are. I can tell you from experience that the time element from “up to down” is very short, but the stop at the end is violent.

There are many products that add to the safety factors of the hunt and we should all take advantage of these products. Sure some are just ways to get your money but all of them together won’t make a dent in the hospital bill that you could incur without them. Hunter safety system vests with lanyards attached to the tree above the hunter have save many lives and injuries but they don’t work if you don’t use them. Also safety system “lifelines” are equally important since many falls occur when in the process of climbing. The lifeline attaches to the upper tree and the hunter clips onto a prusik knot at the bottom and moves the knot up as he climbs thereby being always safely attached to the lifeline.

Many falls are brought about by the hunter trying to carry too much gear up the ladder or steps with him and a simple “bow hoist” will alleviate much of this risk. This is a retractable spring operated device that clips to your vest and will allow you to pull up bows and other gear without having a bunch of extra loose rope to deal with. Once in the tree, having easily accessible tree hangars for securing the gear such as range finders, lunch, etc., are a must. Many falls occur just after the hunter makes a bow shot. The adrenaline is pumping and they seem to think they are impervious to falls at that point.

Equally important is the walk into and out of the woods.

This walk, many times, occurs in the dark at both the start of the day and at the end. Many hunters are shot by their own friends and family members when mistaken for game in the low light conditions. Small walking lights have little effect on the game and provide considerable safety factors.

These lights should be used to indicate you are not a valid target even if you yourself do not need the light to see your path. Practice these and other good safety practices and return home with fond memories and plans for additional hunts.

©2020 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) Visit the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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