By JOE MACALUSO | The Advocate
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As many advances as there have been when it comes to deer hunting, it's proven through years of hunters' surveys that among the last priorities is hunter safety.
Hunters show a preference for buying the latest weapons, the latest advances in ammunition, camouflage clothing and cover scents, but seldom devote the same time nor dollars for newer, safer fixed and climbing stands and the latest safety harnesses.
During a seminar at the Southeast Outdoors Press Association's conference in October, Jay Everett from Hunters Safety Systems talked about statistics that show that most tree stand accidents are not the result of falling from the stand.
“We know that 86 percent (of tree stand accidents) are the result of falls while getting into and climbing from stands,” Everett said.
Those numbers drove Hunter Safety Systems to develop improved hunter safety harnesses during the past 10 or so years, and, this year, led to developing The Life Line made from mountain-climbing-strength rope and using a “prusik” knot to prevent falls while climbing to and from a stand.
“We've found greater acceptance from hunters for the harness systems,” Everett said. “The main problem we needed to tackle was getting hunters into and from stands.”
Everett said this special knot on The Life Line prevents falling. The knot holds firm on the rope when the hunter keeps the knot about his or her head.
The seminar also stressed other tree stand safety tips that Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries' wildlife managers outlined in the days leading up to last week's opening days of the modern firearms seasons in south-central and southeastern parishes.
The LDWF's advisory included:
Thoroughly check and inspect the stand and all safety equipment before use. If a stand was left on a tree or in the woods since last season, all straps should be replaced with new straps specifically designed for tree stand use. Older straps may appear safe to use, but they can be weaken with exposure to weather and sunlight. In addition, straps left on trees for long periods are under continual stress as the tree grows and may break when placed under a load.
Only use tree stands and safety equipment that meet or exceed industry standards recognized by the Treestand Manufacture's Association. A list of products that are certified to industry standards recognized by TMA is available on at tmastands.com .
Always wear and properly attach a Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System anytime you leave the ground, including while ascending and descending. Older devices such as single strap belts and chest harnesses are dangerous and should never be used. Many new stands come with a harness system. In addition, there are numerous comfortable and easy to use Harness system that can be purchased separately from a stand.
Use your safety equipment properly and practice before you go hunting. Read, understand and follow the manufacturer's instructions. In the presence of a responsible adult, practice with your harness system near ground level and experience what it feels like to be suspended.
Know how to recover if you experience a fall in your harness system and be sure to have a communication (cellphone, two-way radio) or signaling device that you can access if you are suspended in your Harness system.
After you get into a stand and have properly attached your harness system, use a haul line to lift your equipment, including your unloaded firearm or bow, into your stand. Never climb with a firearm or bow attached to your body.
Always let a responsible person know where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. Provide them with emergency contact information in the event you do not return when expected.
The LDWF has several tree stand safety videos on its website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting-safety-videos. Additional stand safety and hunter safety equipment is available at tmastands.com.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com