Three people injured in tree-stand falls in four days

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Three people were injured in falls from hunting tree stands in just four days.

Wednesday afternoon, 57-year-old Mark Newman fell 10 feet to the ground from his stand near Michigan City.

This follows a serious fall Tuesday, by 69-year-old Bill Hundt from Bremen. He fell 16 feet and wasn't found for four hours, when his family became concerned that he didn't come home.

25-year-old Silas Wait was climbing into a tree stand in Starke County on Sunday, when the support chain slipped. The platform gave way, and Wait fell 20 feet to the ground.

All three received minor injuries.

These events are a strong reminder of how necessary it is to take the proper precautions when hunting from tree stands. Falls from tree stands are the leading cause of deer hunting accidents in Indiana, accounting for almost half of all accidents. In an average deer season, about 18 hunters will experience a fall resulting in injury. With deer season upon us, Conservation Officers offer several safety tips while hunting from an elevated position.

Hunters should inspect their tree stands and hunting equipment to ensure they are safe before using. They should also only use a tree stand that has the approval of the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and make sure to read the manufacturers warnings and instructions before installation.

Hunters should wear a full-body, fall arrest harness system that meets TMA standards. Single strap and chest harnesses should not be used. Never leave the ground until the full-body, fall arrest harness system is on. Always have three points of contact with the tree when climbing and descending.

A hunter should never climb with anything in his hands or on his back. A haul line should be used to lift a gun, a bow or other gear into the stand. Firearms on a haul line should be unloaded with the action open and muzzle pointed downward.

Other safety tips include hunting with a buddy, telling someone the exact location of your tree stand before heading into the woods, getting a full night’s rest before a hunt, and making sure a cell phone, whistle, flare or some other signal device is on your person at all times. Most cell phone calls to 911 can get a GPS location and assist emergency personnel when responding to remote areas. A free tree stand safety course is available online here.