DNR: Tree stand falls are the greatest cause of hunter deaths

Chippewa Falls, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Wisconsin DNR says around two hunters a year are killed from falling out of a tree stand but the department says simple steps can prevent tragedies.

Hunter education administrator Jon King says new research shows falls from tree stands and similar elevated platforms are the largest source of injuries and deaths of hunters nationwide.

“You stand a much larger chance of being injured while using a tree stand than you would of actually being a victim of a shooting accident,” said King.

As a hunter for the past 40 years Bob Denning, Chippewa Falls, says he is well aware of the danger once he’s in the tree stand.

“When the wind blows they can tend to move with the tree and so forth so you want to make sure you're secured good,” said Denning.

However, Mouldy's Archery and Tackle says after 30 years in business not every hunter has learned that lesson.

“Over the years we've had customers who have died falling out of tree stands so it's hit pretty close to home with us,” said Will Moulton.

The Wisconsin DNR says the chance for a fall for avid Wisconsin hunter is about 1 in 20 so wearing a harness should be a no-brainer.

King said, “It's an alarming number and should make people think a little bit more about their personal safety.”

The research had led the DNR to urge Wisconsin hunters to wear body harnesses. A move Mouldy’s says every hunter should support.

“Most of your accidents happen when you're getting up in your tree stand or down your tree stand,” explained Moulton. “A lot of hunters sometime have issues because they think they’re going to be limited to what they can do in the tree stand so they don ‘t use them but these don’t limit you at all in fact your range of motion is even better.”

The DNR says to always wear a full-body safety harness, to use a lifeline when climbing up or down from the stand, and to think of tree stand safety just as drivers would car safety.

“To me it's as important as a seatbelt in the car. You really want to have them,” added Moulton.

Other tips include using a haul line to raise and lower unloaded firearms or bows into and out of the stand as well as always having three points of contact.

The DNR says that means having two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand getting in and out of the stand at all times.

The department says the Treestand Manufacturers Association provides a free, interactive course that you can finish in minutes.

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