The sun has risen on yet another opening day of Pennsylvania’s firearm deer season. As the season kicks off, hunters are busily sighting-in rifles, making plans with family and friends, and scouting for areas with promising signs of buck activity.
Great strides have been made over the decades to improve hunting safety. Hunters should be proud of the fact that last year, no hunting-related shooting fatalities occurred.
This remarkable achievement can largely be attributed to the 2,237 men and women who volunteer to teach hunter-education, which is a mandated course for new license buyers. It’s also testament to a hunting community that remains vigilant about safety.
As hunters take to the woods, there is one thing they could do to further ensure their health and well-being, and that is to wear a full-body harness if they plan to use a tree stand. The use of tree stands has skyrocketed over the last two decades and in 2004, we reached a point where injuries from tree stand falls surpassed injuries from firearms.
Data concerning tree stand accidents is lacking and is often understated, but some alarming trends are beginning to emerge. Per the PA Game Commission, a hunter who spends 50 years hunting deer with both a bow and a gun, has a 1 in 20 chance of being injured in a fall from a tree stand at some point in their hunting career.
Stay Safe by Following These Simple Guidelines
- Always wear a full-body harness (most fall victims in recent studies were not wearing full-body harnesses).
- Put your full-body harness on the moment your foot leaves the ground, until it returns. This is especially important for those who use tree-climber stands.
- Don’t leave your stands out in the elements all year long.
- Inspect your stands and ladders before using them.
- If you’re hunting in an area with cell reception, keep a cell phone in a reachable pocket.
- Attach a small, fixed-blade knife to the upper portion of your harness.
- Wear a whistle.
- Always let someone know where you’re hunting and when you expect to return.
Have fun hunting this year and please be safe!
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