A large part of those preparations is hanging treestands and clearing shooting lanes. Safety is paramount when sitting in and climbing trees. Phillip Vanderpool, host of the popular online hunting show The Virtue TV, knows all too well about the devastating effects a fall can bring to a person's life.
"Garvin Gibbins is a life-long friend of mine who I've hunted and fished with since we were boys," Vanderpool said. "He's one of the best hunters I've ever known. On the last day of Arkansas's deer season a couple of years ago, Garvin went up a tree unprotected to pull his stand. He stepped on a limb that snapped, and fell 22 feet. He severed his backbone. Garvin lost the use of his legs, and is in a wheelchair for the rest of his life."
Spending more days in a treestand each year than the average hunter does in a decade, Vanderpool knows the odds are against him. At some point, no matter how careful one is, statistics say you are going to have an accident. That's why it is so important to always wear a safety harness while you're hunting from a treestand and to use a climbing support, like a Hunter Safety System Lifeline, when climbing.
"I wear a Hunter Safety System every time I'm up a tree," Vanderpool said. "I know what my friend, and so many others go through with their injuries sustained from a fall. I take every precaution to protect myself from serious injury, and I strongly encourage you to do the same."
One statistic that may surprise you is a very small number of falls actually occur once hunters are situated in their stand. Nearly 90 percent occur while ascending or descending a tree, or climbing onto or off of a treestand. Many hunters make the potentially fatal mistake of climbing unprotected.
Don't do this. Your loved ones deserve more from you.
"I use the Hunter Safety System Life Line when I'm going up or down a tree," Vanderpool said. It's really simple. You install it while wearing a lineman style climbing belt, then each time you climb up or down from then on, you clip your harness to the Life Line and a knot slides up or down the line with you. If you fall, the knot cinches on the line and stops your fall."
The first time is typically the most dangerous time up a tree, because if you are going to break a branch, then the first time you step on it is the most likely time for it to snap. Being careful and cautious, and taking your time is a must. But never become lackadaisical about potential falls. Always use caution and always be aware of potential danger.
"I'm telling you, treestand falls are a bad, bad thing that just don't need to happen," Vanderpool said. "It just hit real close to home for me again when Brandon Amos, a young man I trained on video, fell. He stepped on a limb and it went. He broke his right arm and fractured four vertebrates in his back. He's very lucky to not be paralyzed."
Look, if you're going to hunt from a treestand, then you have to wear safety equipment. You also need to wear and use safety equipment when setting up treestands and taking them down. There is no excuse.
With today's products, like those from Hunter Safety System, you'll be comfortable while protecting yourself and your family from disaster, or even death.
From the time your feet leave the ground until they touch back down, wear safety equipment. Don't risk it. Your life is way too important. Wear a safety harness and use a lifeline.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler, the director of communications for Roeslein Alternative Energy, is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]