The bow season for deer hunting opened Thursday and Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says they had one known injury in the first few days. “Derek Kahler of Slater, who was setting up his tree stand Friday afternoon in the Stephens State Forest down near Lucas. He fell while setting up that tree stand, breaking an ankle, ” Baskins says.
The 42-year-old Kahler accidentally cut through the strap holding the tree stand in place while he was cutting branches and had not yet attached his safety harness. Baskins says falls are a big issue for deer hunters in tree stands. “Last year we had four reports of people falling from tree stands. All of them resulted in injuries of varying degrees,” according to Baskins. “So, it is very important that people always wear a safety harness. And that’s not just when you are in a stand, but also when you are setting up a stand.”
He says it is important for you to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in using tree stands. He says in a lot of cases hunters aren’t careful to be sure that the straps of a tree stand can hold the weight that is needed. “The other thing that we see that sometimes people forget, is a lot of times people leave their tree stands up all year, and the weather elements can deteriorate the material on those straps. So, that is something each year that they go out that they want to check for,” Baskins explains.
There are some basics for getting into your tree stand, he says you should always have three points of contact with the ladder before you start moving, with either two arms and one leg holding, or two legs and one arm in place before moving. Also be sure to take note of the current conditions before you make the climb into the stand.
“Obviously they are out in nature — you could have frost, ice, snow or just being wet — could make them more slippery than the hunter is anticipating,” Baskins says. And the final thing before you head out is to a make sure somebody is aware you are on the hunt. “Make sure that other people know where you are going and when you are expected back, so that if there is a delay, people are able to find you out in the woods,” Baskins says. He says if there is an accident and no one knows you are hunting, it could take several hours before you are found.