DNR urges tree stand safety after hunter falls nearly 20 feet

PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WANE) An Elkhart man suffered leg and chest injuries after falling nearly 20 feet from a tree stand late Saturday afternoon in Marshall County according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.

Mark Miller, 44, was preparing to hunt and was not wearing a safety harness when he fell. Emergency responders took Miller out of the woods he was in and transported him to a South Bend hospital.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, falls from tree stands are the leading cause of deer hunting accidents in Indiana, accounting for almost half with many occurring while a hunter is ascending or descending from the stand.

The DNR has provided the following safety tips:

  • Hunters should only use a tree stand that has the approval of the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and they should read the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions before installation.
  • Hunters should wear a full-body, fall arrest harness system that meets TMA standards. Single strap and chest harnesses should not be used. Never leave the ground until the full-body, fall arrest harness system is on. Always have three points of contact with the tree when climbing and
    descending.
  • A hunter should never climb with anything in his hands or on his back. A haul line should be used to lift a gun, a bow or other gear into the stand. Firearms on a haul line should be unloaded with the action open and muzzle pointed downward.
  • Other safety tips include hunting with a buddy, telling someone the exact location of your tree stand before heading into the woods, getting a full night’s rest before a hunt, and making sure a cell phone, whistle, flare or some other signal device is on your person at all times. Most cell phone calls to 911 can get a GPS location and assist emergency personnel when responding to remote areas. A free tree stand safety course is available online at http://www.hunterexam.com/treestandsafety.