The number one cause of hunting accidents in Indiana isn’t mishandling firearms, it’s falling out of trees. Falling from a tree stand can mean broken bones, paralysis, or even death.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is trying to educate deer hunters as more of them head into the woods. As outdoor recreation has gone up during the pandemic, hunting accidents have more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. That's according to International Hunter Education Association USA.
“In northern Indiana, we have already had one tree stand accident — and that was when someone was trying to put up their stand prior to the season, in anticipation for the season, and it was not secured correctly," said Capt. Jet Quillen, public relations captain with the DNR’s law enforcement division.
Though accidents involving tree stands are nothing new, Quillen said not every hunter uses a safety harness like they should.
“They really haven't become mainstream like they have in the past couple years. So just educating the public of the importance of utilizing them," he said.
Quillen said experienced hunters could be using worn out or outdated harnesses and tree stands — and might want to invest in new ones. He said hunters should inspect their tree stands — and the tree they’ve placed their stand in — before they go hunting to make sure everything is secure.
The DNR also advises hunters to plan out their hunt — which includes letting someone know where they’re going and when they expect to be back. The agency has more tips for safe hunting from the DNR as well as videos showing how to safely set up different kinds of tree stands.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.