For bowhunters, safety starts with a checklist

Suggestions on stands, belts, clothing can pay

September 15, 1999

Bowhunters have a strong safety record, but the Department of Natural Resources offers the following tips for those using tree stands and reminds archers of hunter-orange requirements when other seasons are in effect.

Stands: Half of the 18 hunting-related accidents reported in 1997-98 involved tree stands. Check permanent stands before hunting from them and replace weak or worn lumber. Follow manufacturer's recommendations before installing commercial stands and inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts before each use.

Climbing belts and safety straps: Most accidents occur when climbing or descending, so use a climbing belt. Always use a safety belt or harness while hunting from a stand. Never use a rope to replace a safety belt or harness. Use only up-to-date equipment.

Haul lines: Never carry equipment while climbing to your stand. Use a rope to haul your gear up and to lower it before going down. Be certain broadheads are covered before raising or lowering.

Choosing a tree: Use only a healthy, living tree when using climbing devices. Rough-barked tree such as oak are best.

Climbing: Never put all your weight on a single branch; keep at least one hand and one foot on a secure place when reaching for the next hold. Climb above the stand and step down on it to avoid dislodging it. Wear non-skid boots because steps or platforms can be slippery. Never wear rings when climbing because they can catch on small limbs and equipment.

Leave word: Tell a responsible person where you will be and for how long. Map your location and leave a copy at camp, at home or on your car, so you can be found.

Clear the ground below: Remove logs, up-turned or cutoff saplings, rocks and other obstructions from the ground below the stand.

Stay awake: Falling asleep is a common cause of tree-stand accidents. If you get drowsy, move your arms rapidly to stimulate circulation and restore alertness.

Signals and bandages: Carry a whistle and a flashlight to signal for help, if necessary, and a first aid kit. A cell phone can be a lifesaver in an emergency.

Hunter orange: Bowhunters who are afield during the annual Youth Hunt (Nov. 13), two-week firearms season (Nov. 27-Dec. 11) or the muzzleloader seasons (Oct. 21-23 and Dec. 18-Jan. 1) must wear hunter orange. Requirements are any of the following: A cap of solid daylight fluorescent orange; a vest or jacket with front and back panels of at least 250 square inches of solid daylight orange, or an outer garment of camouflage fluorescent orange worn above the waist with at least 50 percent fluorescent orange color.

Pub Date: 9/15/99

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