Hang in There
Updated: Aug 5, 2018
Hello Everyone! Welcome to my next blog. Ive been slow on my writing and communication this week due to kidney stone surgery, but I'm feeling a little better now. Today I wanted to post something that I wrote awhile back in college. I think the message is important with the up coming deer season and I hope many of you will take the information and utilize it in a positive way. Enjoy!
Hang in There
What do we as society consider to be risky behavior? Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and not wearing seat belts in vehicles are often some of the things that come to mind when we consider “risky” behavior, but it is important to keep an open mind that risky behavior can be a much broader subject. Over the past few years, I have been watching different news coverage from all over the United States involving the hunting industry and some of the articles and stories I have read are extremely horrifying. As you read this, I’m sure most of you are thinking to yourselves that people need to be more cautious while handling guns out in the field hunting, but accidental shootings are surprisingly not the main culprit. If this shocked you, then you may be even more stunned to learn that tree stand falls are the number one cause of deer hunting accidents and death while hunting in Indiana.
Deer hunting has been a popular sport in Indiana for decades and over time it has evolved into a competitive activity. As a deer hunter, I know that having good and reliable equipment helps produce success in the field but, top of the line equipment takes a good chunk of money. The main component that any hunter must have in the field is a weapon and an expensive shotgun, rifle, or bow is often what we spend the most money on. When selecting a weapon, there are a few things to consider and generally the more you spend the better product you get. It is safe to say that deer hunting is far from cheap!
The next major thing any outdoorsman will tell you that is important while hunting is clothing. Clothing plays a major role in deer hunting success because it keeps you dry, warm, and scent free while spending hours in a stand with very restricted movement. To most deer hunters this is almost as important if not as important as a rifle or a bow, and most tend to spend all the money that they can afford as this can really make or break a hunt. On average, a good pair of slip on muck boots will cost an individual around a few hundred dollars, while pants shirts, and jackets cost around the same each. From my own personal experience of purchasing hunting apparel in the past, I would estimate that I have over 1000 dollars invested in hunting apparel alone. I would consider myself an “above average” hunter when it comes to my spending habits on gear.
Lastly, if you want to be a successful deer hunter you must be extremely quiet and extremely stealthy. Sometimes hunters use the “spot and stalk” technique but, majority of the time deer hunters are hunting from elevated positions on tiny platforms which most refer to as tree stands. Tree stands come in all shapes and sizes and over the course of the last few decades have become extremely marketable in the hunting industry. When choosing a tree stand, generally an individual looks for three major things, comfort, durability, and price. I would say that most hunters tend to lean more towards ladder stands which significantly save the sportsman money when compared to an expensive climbing stand or tri pod stand. A decent ladder stand can be purchased at a big box store for around 100 dollars, while climbing stands and tri pods stands can run from 100 dollars up to around 600 dollars. A hunter must consider what type of hunting he/she will be doing, and how much time they will be spending in their stand. From personal conversations, I’ve had with friends and fellow deer hunters in the past, I would say that most hunters skimp or “go cheap” on tree stands in Indiana. Tree stands can be anywhere from a few feet off the ground up to 30 foot up in the air, and are often secured to a tree by the use of a ratcheting strap or a chain. I know what you’re thinking, “What kind of moron would sit for hours 30 foot in the air on a platform secured by a tiny rope and not expect something bad to happen?” Surprisingly statistics show that failing tree stands, and broken ratchet straps are not the main cause for accidents and death while deer hunting, but the ascend up and down without safety equipment is. Despite the statistics and facts, most hunters still complain that they don’t want to spend the money on unnecessary equipment, or that the system is “too bulky.” It is absurd to think a deer hunter has invested all this time and money in a sport that they claim to love so much, only to risk serious injury or death because they don’t want to purchase a safety system that cost a fraction of any of their other gear. A harness can be purchased online, or in local stores from anywhere to a little under 40 dollars, all the way up to what one wants to spend. A good starter harness can be found here https://www.amazon.com/Hunter-Safety-System-Bowhunter-Harness/dp/B00M1T84LA.
If you live in Indiana or any other state that enforces the “seat belt law” you understand how much of a pain in the ass it can really be. I’m sure most of us can recall a time when we neglected to fasten our seat belt when we were in a hurry and speaking for the majority we think that it will “never happen to us.” This is the case with tree stand falls. So how do we prevent it? The only plausible solution now would be passing a law requiring that all deer hunters using an elevated platform are required to use a safety harness while in the stand and while ascending and descending. Although some may argue that this should be the hunter’s choice, I think it’s important to keep in mind that wearing a seatbelt is no longer the choice of Indiana drivers and the result of the law has saved many lives. Another good aspect of passing a law requiring hunters to use a harness would be the amount of money saved by the state that they would not be using in the countless rescues of hunters falling while out in the field. Majority of the emergency rescues are carried out by the Department of Fish and Wildlife which is extremely limited and underfunded. Being a hunter myself, I know that hunters and outdoorsman are the only ones keeping the sport of deer hunting alive and reducing unnecessary spending can allow for advancements in other parts of the industry that are often neglected. If you are a deer hunter or have thought about getting into the sport, you might understand that finding property to hunt is often an issue and by reducing the rescue efforts and allowing more state funding for properties you can help preserve the sport that we value so much for ourselves and for future generations. If you’re still not convinced that this law would be of any value to you or your hunting partners, then try to view it from a more personal perspective. Every time we go out into the field to hunt we leave behind family and friends who a lot of the times are counting on us to return home safe. Imagine if you were no longer around to provide for your family. Would they be able to survive without you? Maybe you’re like me, not married and have no kids, chances are no one is going to go hungry or without basic necessity’s because I’m not around but, think about the emotional trauma. Does your mother, father, sister, brother, or friends deserve to go through that because of your negligence? If you won’t wear a harness and a lifeline for yourself then do it for your loved ones. You owe it to them.
As deer hunters, most of us realize that you must be somewhat “off your rocker” to go out and climb a tree at 4 a.m. and expose yourself to extreme conditions to achieve the goal which is killing deer. Deer hunting takes a special kind of dedication and determination and the sport is not fit for everyone. Truly, hunters are the only ones that can ultimately preserve the sport and I think the simple solution of wearing a harness and lifeline can open opportunities that will benefit all of us. When you’re preparing for your next hunt or scouting properties for the upcoming season, try to keep in mind the image that you would like for deer hunters to portray. Do you want people to view hunters as primitive, irresponsible savages who enjoy killing animals for a sport, or do you want them to view you as a responsible preserver of our hunting heritage? If you don’t already wear a harness, try to reflect why hunting is so important to you and what you would do if you couldn’t enjoy the sport any longer. One thing is for certain, you can’t enjoy the sport six feet below the ground.