Safety in tree stands ought to be a priority

Hunting is one of the safest activities you can enjoy.

Education classes and an emphasis on limiting risks have made sure of that.

There’s just one caveat, says Jeff Rawlinson, the assistant administrator for communication for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Don’t get in a hurry or get sloppy and forget what you’ve learned.

“If people follow basic safety principals,” he said, “they can spend more time enjoying the hunt and less time worrying about some of the negatives that can happen.”

One of those negatives is tree stand accidents. Although the number of incidents has dropped over the years, they continue to happen.

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost said he nearly died recently after falling from a tree on his farm in Georgia.

He shattered his pelvis, broke four ribs and said he lost seven to eight units of blood. Luckily, he had a cell phone and was able to call for help.

Two deer stand incidents have been reported in Nebraska so far this year and four in Iowa.

“One is one too many,” Rawlinson said. “We don’t like to see that.”

He reminds deer hunters to follow these rules:

» Be familiar with your tree stand. Make sure it’s attached to a healthy tree.

» Watch the video on how to correctly mount your stand.

» Be familiar with your equipment. He recommends everyone uses a safety harness and fall-arrest system from the moment they leave the ground.

» Use a haul line. Never carry equipment up on your back.

» When you are climbing in or out of the stand, make sure there are three points of contact with the tree, i.e. two legs and a hand or two hands and a leg.

“If everybody would adhere to those safety rules, they’d be hard-set to have an accident,” Rawlinson said.

Little brother successful, too

We did a story earlier this fall about Kaitlyn Neid and her elk hunt.

She couldn’t wait to go deer hunting with younger brother Zac, who is 10.

Andy Neid, the pair’s father, was happy to report that Zac killed his first deer on opening day. Andy and Zac were hunting on private land near Butte, Nebraska.

They were sitting in a ground blind Saturday evening when Zac, from Gretna, used his Remington .243 to harvest a 4×4 buck. He needed just one shot from 110 yards.

“This is the best day ever, Dad,” he told his father after his big moment.

Kaitlyn wasn’t along because she was at a youth church camp. She was the first to call to congratulate her brother.

Girls taking their shots

Kit Hams, the big game program manager for the Game and Parks, enjoyed seeing all the girls with their trophy deer.

He worked for three days last week in Scottsbluff, where he said hunters checked probably 360 to 370 deer. Fifteen to 20 shooters were girls.

“The girls stood out for some reason this year,” he said. “It’s pretty neat.”

Youngsters who killed their first deer got a daub of blood on their face, a rite of passage they seemed to enjoy.

“It’s done with pride,” Hams said.

He said Nebraska has a great youth program with inexpensive permits for youngsters, and that appears to be bearing fruit.

“It’s something we are very proud of,” Hams said.

During his trip west, Hams helped work cattle for Terry Brown of Banner County, who has four daughters. A Wyoming family with five daughters trucked in around 100 cows to over-winter in Nebraska.

The girls were right in the middle of the action as the cows were sorted.

“It was a neat week to see young women performing exceptionally well,” Hams said.

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