The Wild Side for Nov. 18, 2012

OK all you this-will-never-happen-to-me guys who are going into the fields, forests and swamps of Louisiana in the next days and week, please hand this to your wives, mothers and anyone who cares about you so deeply that they want to see you at their holiday tables — in one piece.

Done?

For those of you who care about your hunters, you need to know there’s enough data around to know that one of every three hunters who take to treestands will fall from that treestand and require some form of medical treatment. That’s all treestands, the homemade ones and the ones purchased from an outdoors store.

What’s more, three-fourths of those falls come from the 30-60 year-old age group. If you’re in a hunting family, odds are you know someone who’s taken this fall.

While you’re reading this, odds are the man — husband, son, significant other — likely will respond that accidents like that can’t happen to him (when the aforementioned statistics obviously refute his statement).

That’s why you need to insist that treestand safety goes hand in hand with getting all that must-have stuff ready when your man heads to the woods.

Just remind them that you’re not nagging when you ask them to leave a Hunting Plan at home.

You need to know the make and model of his vehicle, where he’s likely to park, the hunting location (GPS coordinates help), boat description and boat numbers if one is used to hunt, a time to expect his return, pertinent phone numbers to call if he’s not home at that time, and his assurance that he’ll use that cell phone to call to let you know he’s safely out of the woods and on his way home. Duck hunters need to do this, too.

Then remind them that practicing treestand safety will save you from extended periods of anxiety and heartache, and that you’re likely to be a much better mood when they return home.

Then remind them about the following:

  • If he’s built his stand, make sure it’s sound, free from rust and rot and has built-in safety devices like eye-bolts to hold safety harnesses and a rail around the box to prevent falls.
  • If you’re hunting from a manufactured stand, make sure it’s sound, too. Check and retighten bolts and screws. Check for rust on metals and rotting wood.
  • Make sure to wear a body harness. This has to be more than the old chest straps that can cause more injury during a fall (including fatalities from sliding up and wrapping around the neck). Put the harness on at the camp, not in the darkness at a stand.
  • Pick a solid and straight tree for your stand, and never use a tree limb for support.
  • Use the three-point system to climb the stand. One hand/two feet or two hands/one foot should be on the stand during the ascent.
  • Climb the stand, then after safely in the stand, use a rope to pull up weapon and backpack.

Then welcome him home with open arms, and a smile.