As many of our readers know, it’s deer hunting season and that’s big in Alabama. There have been four deaths in our state within about three weeks caused by falls from tree stands. These elevated stands can be dangerous. All hunters should wear a full-body safety harness when using a tree stand. Harnesses are required when hunting on public land, including all the wildlife management areas in Alabama. But harnesses are not required when hunting on private land. Each of the four recent fatalities in Alabama have occurred on private lands. Most deer hunters use elevated stands, which give them a better view. These stands also put the hunters up out of the sight path of approaching deer, as well as elevating their scent trail. Millions of the stands have been sold nationwide in the last 30 years. Unfortunately, some have been found to be defective.
Approximately 86% of deer hunters in Alabama report using an elevated stand at some time during the season. But, according to reports about 40% never wear a harness. Part of the reason some hunters don’t wear harnesses may be the cost. A quality harness costs around $100 to $140. Manufacturers say the mountaineer-quality hardware required to build a safe harness drives the cost upward. Basically, the harnesses include shoulder, body and leg straps, with a sliding attachment for the tree. A tether clips to the back of the harness; if a fall occurs, the hunter is suspended with his back to the tree. The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association, a non-profit group that includes most of the top stand manufacturers in the nation, offers an on-line video on tree stand safety that might be a good reminder for all of us, no matter how experienced.
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