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Experts Urging Tree Stand Safety
Right now, many deer hunters are coming home from a day in the tree stand. It can be a dangerous hobby, with hunters falling out of tree stands every year--sometimes to their deaths.
That's why hunting safety instructors are urging hunters to take necessary safety precautions before climbing up a tree.
"The top strap of the stand actually broke, and I went down with it," said Ryan Snyder, a Springfield deer hunter.
Snyder is recovering from a 30-foot fall from a tree stand--an accident that happened just a few weeks ago.
"I had a lacerated liver, lacerated kidney, a severe concussion," said Snyder.
Snyder said he has a friend who fell out of a tree stand last year, but he never thought it would happen to him.
"I check all my stuff. The stand I was actually in was less than a year old. The straps were less than a year old. Everything. You just get complacent. You get into the habit of getting into the tree stand, you quit paying attention, and when it happens, it's too late," said Snyder.
That's why hunting safety instructors say it's critical hunters wear a safety harness that fits properly and check to make sure their equipment is in good working order.
"Every year if you pull your stands out, once they're out, check them over and make sure they're in good shape. And when you put them back in, make sure they're put in correctly, make sure they're put in securely," said Joe Bauer, Education Specialist and Certified Hunting Safety Instructor with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Bauer says hunters should never hang a tree stand or take one out by themselves, and they should always tell someone when they're going hunting.
"Always make sure someone knows when you're going into your stand, let someone know when you're coming out, and as soon as you get out, make sure you alert them that you are indeed safe on the ground and everything is okay and on the way it's supposed to be," said Bauer.
These are all safety precautions Snyder says he's now taking, and encouraging his friends to do the same.
"Everybody's in harnesses now and the whole group's safer. Not just me," Snyder said.
Having hunted since the age of 5, Snyder says not even a 30-foot fall will keep him from doing what he loves.
"It's like riding a horse, you know. You fall off a horse, you don't quit riding them. You got to get back on," said Snyder.
Bauer says hunters should always take a safety plan and a cell phone with them when going hunting.