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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crossbows and Tree Stands

Just finished a phone call with a gentleman in the hospital. He fell 30 feet from his treestand and I agree with his surgeon that he is "lucky to be alive." Lots of broken bones but he will walk again. 30 feet is a long way. The odds must be something like a 1% survival rate for a 30 foot fall.
We will call him Fred. I asked him how it happened.
Fred told me had climbing sticks attached to a tree. As he reached the top rung and was swinging over to the platform stand, the top restraining strap broke holding the climbing sticks to the tree and he was headed down fast. (In the picture, it would be the yellow strap.)
Fred was wearing a harness but planned to connect once he was on the platform. He had no chance when the strap broke. Does it make you think about your own practices? Yes -- I bet most of us sometimes will take a calculated risk thinking we have everything under control.
I have the same stand setup. It is only about 15 feet high but we all know that a fall of any height can do you in. It would have been better to use multiple straps on the climbing sticks. It would have been better to clip in with the harness before swinging over to the hang on stand. I often do that but I sometimes don't. As hunters, we can get so excited about "the hunt" that we can lose sight of reasonable safe practices. "Sun is rising. Need to get in the stand. Let's cut a corner."
We have all been there.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Equipment can fail so be careful.
Don't take chances and become careless for one moment. Plan your tree stand ascent and have everything organized from hand placement to foot placement.
Look at every piece of gear and think about the outcome should that ratchet strap fail or nylon strap tear.
I count among my best friends others who were not as lucky as Fred. They fell far less distance and were hurt a lot more. Sometimes, a helicopter medivac is your trip home as another freind related his 22 foot fall and compound leg fracture. Mike was going to crawl back to his vehicle. He only made it about 4 feet before the pain became unbearable.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Keep in mind that a crossbow can provide very decent ground hunting opportunities and your hunting season will not end prematurely with both feet on the ground. It is something to consider.
Be safe.

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