It always sends chills down my spine when I read in the newspaper or hear on radio or television that another hunter has been injured or killed as the result of a hunting accident. With hunting seasons in full swing, I'll know I'll be hearing about more such tragedies and that's troubling.
I personally know several hunters and have heard of others who have been injured or lost their lives while hunting. Some of these incidents have been the result of a hunter being mistaken for game or a mishandled gun firing accidentally. Quite a few of the occurrences have been the result of falling from tree stands.
Three hunting fatalities coming to my attention have happened over the past few weeks. One of these occurred in Louisiana when a man was shot and killed by another hunter who mistook him for a deer. Two incidents in other states involved a hunter falling 35 feet from a lock-on stand while another involved two hunters dragging out a deer one had shot, stopping to rest, propping a gun against a tree. The gun fell, discharging and killing one of the hunters.
John Sturgis works as Hunter Education Program Manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Sturgis works with staff statewide to educate the public in ways to reduce the number of hunting accidents.
"When we look at hunting accidents, we look at how it happened and in just about every case we can trace the cause back to human error. Somebody made an unwise decision and a tragedy resulted from it," said Sturgis.
"When we teach hunter education, we teach the Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety. If people would adhere to the first three, we'd probably never have another firearms accident," Sturgis continued.
"The first commandment is the absolute necessity of controlling the direction of your gun's muzzle. The second is to be sure of your target. In other words, don't touch the trigger unless you absolutely positively sure. The third is to keep your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until it's time to shoot," he noted.
Deer hunters have an advantage over their quarry when they hunt from elevated positions since deer perceive predators to be at ground level. Although hunters in tree stands have the advantage, sitting in a tree 20 feet above the ground can put the hunter in danger if precautions are not taken.
"I know people who choose not to use a fall restraint when they're up in a tree. What you have to understand," Sturgis continued, "is that you're taking a chance with your life. You can be seriously injured or worse and when you're 15-20 feet up in a tree and you fall, the results are not going to be good when you hit the ground.
"We urge hunters using elevated stands to make sure they use a full body harness. There are a number on the market that are good ones that will protect you should you fall. Reputable tree stand manufacturers use an independent testing company to test the fall restraints they recommend or include when you purchase your tree stand. It's up to the purchaser to be sure the fall restraint he decides to use is one that has been tested and approved. When you purchase one, be sure and follow to the letter the instructions on how to use it the correct way," he added.
Hunting seasons are going full tilt now and it is incumbent on every hunter to do everything in his power to insure that his name won't be in the news as being a victim or the cause of yet another tragic hunting accident.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.