Hunting stands are as much a part of firearms deer hunting as, well, firearms. But while there is firearms training, there's no such help when it comes to safely navigating a deer stand.
Nationally, one in three hunting injuries involve a tree stand. Falls from tree stands are caused by numerous factors, including a weakness in the stand's structure and incorrect installation.
Correcting the latter is the key, according to Gary Drotts, Brainerd area wildlife supervisor at the DNR.
"A person has to understand the stand you bought and the limitations in putting it up," Drotts said from his Brainerd office Wednesday. "There's good stands out there these days, but there's still a lot of room for human error.
"Stands ... portable stands ... you're going up and down and handling a rifle. Hunters are starting to use a lot more portable stands. We're trying to discourage bigger (ones). There are a lot of good stands out there. It just depends on how you put it up."
Deer stand safety tips from the DNR:
Climb tree stands carefully. Most accidents occur when hunters are climbing up or down.
Always use a climbing belt.
Use a full-body harness when hunting from elevated tree stands.
Never carry equipment with you while climbing. Use a haul line to raise or lower gear.
Make sure firearms are unloaded prior to raising or lowering them with a haul line.
Check permanent tree stands each year before hunting. Replace worn or weak lumber.
Carry a whistle and cell phone to call for help. Carry a first-aid kit and flashlight.
Wear boots with non-skid soles. Steps or platforms can be slippery in rain, sleet or snow.
Don't fall asleep (a common cause of accidents). If you get drowsy, move your arms rapidly until you feel alert or get out of the tree stand.
As a precautionary measure, remove all logs, upturned and cutoff saplings, rocks and other obstructions on the ground below the tree stand.
Use updated equipment. When used properly, newer tree stand equipment is solid and safe.
For more information about tree stand safety and product recalls, go to the Treestand Manufacturer's Association Web site at www.tmastands.com/recalls.php.
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