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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Before the fall, take a secure stand

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Before the fall, take a secure stand


I read somewhere that accidents while using treestands happen more than many hunters care to think about.

It took a while, but the use of treestands for the hunting of whitetailed deer and even some big-game species has almost become a necessity, especially if you are hunting smaller private land pieces here in Connecticut.

While I loved to wander the big woods if they were available, I found that treestands increased my opportunities at tagging a deer. I also found that they can be very dangerous if caution is not used.

The very first treestand I used was on a piece of private property in Colchester. We used some wood and nails to construct it in a small group of trees. And while I saw some deer, many times they were out of range of my permanently fixed stand.

I also became aware of a new type of treestand that a hunter could use to actually climb a tree — and it was portable! WOW! Lucky me.

One hot summer day, I took my newly purchased climbing treestand over to the private land I was allowed to hunt to give it a try.

Of course, me being me, I never told anyone I was going over to Colchester to try out the new treestand — not even the landowner.

It was the type that required you to hug the tree in your climbing endeavors. It really worked great and, as I was standing on the treestand envisioning all of the deer I was going to harvest, all heck broke loose!

The treestand — with me on it — started to rapidly slide down the tree. I quickly grabbed the trunk to keep from falling, and while I did stop the slide, I was greeted with a stabbing pain in my shoulder and chest.

And, yes, I have told this story before, but with the start of another deer season on September 15, I feel it my duty to keep you alert to what could happen in our great outdoors.

The pain in my shoulder and chest was intolerable, and there I was, up in the treestand, wondering what I was going to do next. I decided to hug the tree as best as I could and get myself down to the ground.

I did that, but I bet they could hear me screaming in pain for miles, and I do know that when I hit the ground I blacked out from the pain for what I guess was a couple of minutes.

Lesson learned? Well, yes and no.

We had purchased some land in New York State and I began making permanent treestands in various spots. I figured that since we owned the land, I could build as many permanent wood treestands as I wanted.

I always named my treestands, so if you were telling someone about them the name would help locate it. One of my first was the UBC Stand, named after The United Bowhunters of Connecticut, who were at that time big into raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Over the years, many of my UBC buddies were awarded with hunts from the UBC Stand, and many of them were successful.

I had constructed the stand out of some scrap lumber and had used saplings nailed to the two trees that held it for ladder rungs to get up into the stand. It worked quite well — for a while.

One fall morning, I arrived at the stand in the dark and proceeded to climb up into it when one of the rungs snapped in two and sent me hurtling to the ground. The next thing I remember was laying on my back trying to piece together what happened.

Thankfully, I did not break any bones, but I was awfully sore for a while and refused to tell my Darlin’ Edna what had happened until much later.

The fall from the climbing treestand in Connecticut cost me a good part of the deer season, but I did learn to use it cautiously and began using it only when I could find the right couple of trees to climb in. By that I mean a couple of trees close enough to each other to offer concealment as well as a bit more safety when hunting out of it.

Then ladderstands came onto the hunting scene and my tactics changed forever.

The only problem with the ladderstands is they were not all that portable. However, on private land as well as my own land in New York, I used the ladderstands in place of the wooden stands because I could leave them in spots that I wanted to hunt.

I still like to erect the ladderstands in between a couple of trees that are side by side because they offer concealment as well as safety.

But, like I said, they can be a bit cumbersome when you wanted to move them.

For me, they offered a safer way to do my deer hunting from a treestand, and I filled a number of deer tags from ladderstands.

There have been fatalities among hunters using treestands over the years and some of them could have been prevented by using the safety harnesses that come with the stands.

Next Friday, the archery season for deer and turkey opens in Connecticut. Please hunt safely!

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.