Ensure your fall protection gear is rated. If not...DON'T USE IT!
I would like to pass on some thoughts from Myndi Clements of Midwest Whitetail
about tree-stand safety, and also help raise awareness about the dangers of using any elevated hunting platform. In Myndi’s blog titled “Increased Buck Activity and Food Plots
”, she mentions how she fell 15 feet while putting up a tree stand. I don’t know Myndi personally, but I for one am very glad to hear that she did not sustain any serious injuries. Considering there are many serious injuries and deaths every hunting season resulting from falls, she is definitely a lucky one.
When I am not pursuing the whitetail, you might find me at any one of my 7 manufacturing plants where I am responsible for coordinating safety activities and ensuring compliance with industry safety regulations. When I heard Myndi’s story, it hit home with me. So, I thought it would be a good topic to explore a bit further as we approach the 2012-2013 hunting season.
There are some basic fall protection fundamentals that should be followed in all cases when using elevated hunting platforms. I can’t account for all scenarios or equipment used, so be sure to understand and follow your equipment manufacturer’s recommended instructions. Follow these tips to help ensure safe and hopefully successful hunting adventures.
· Use RATED fall protection harness, lanyard, and anchor points when sitting/standing on an elevated hunting platform. The harness is designed to evenly distribute your weight and load force if a fall occurs. DO NOT USE BODY BELTS.
· Attach the lanyard end from the harness to an anchor point directly on the tree body only. Do not attach to tree limbs, climbing pegs, ladders, or any part of your stand.
· Attach as far and directly overhead possible. This will limit the potential for swing and the distance you fall. Just be sure to allow enough wiggle room for necessary hunting movements such as scoping, raising a gun, or drawing a bow.
· Wear your body harness on the outside of you hunting clothes. A body harness will inevitably stretch a bit when suspended and could cause outer clothing to choke you and cut off your airway.
· Be sure the body harness is adjusted correctly and fits snug prior to climbing. Again, follow your manufacturer’s recommended instructions for fit and use. Practice before actually using.
· When using a climber, it is strongly encouraged to attach your fall protection harness to the tree before you begin climbing up. Advance your fall protection tree attachment as you advance your climber until you get to your desired height. It’s a little bit more time consuming, but worth the protection should the climber slip or give way.
· When climbing up or down pegs or ladders, maintain a 3 point contact. Always have two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot in contact with the pegs or ladder while going up or down.
· Do not carry objects in your hands while climbing up or down ladders. Use waist packs, back packs, and pockets for small hunting items.
· If you don’t have a secure shoulder or back sling, raise you gun (unloaded) or bow with a tag line once you get to the top of you stand.
· Installing climbing pegs and setting up permanent ladder stands present additional fall safety challenges. In these cases, you should use fall protection whenever possible. Enlist the use of drag lines and the help of another person to raise stand parts to you as you install parts further up the tree.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
with any questions you might have about personal fall protection safety. There is a solution for everything and its’ always worth pursuing the right thing to do. I sincerely wish all of you a very safe and successful hunting season.
Todd Christianson (WC Founder)
Well, I am super excited to get back out into the woods next weekend. Shed hunting for the
most part is over, and the deer opener is not for another 5 months and 17 days. I will start scouting deer well before that, but even that will not begin until late summer. With the lull in my favorite outdoor activity, I decided to get my spring turkey license. I’m a first time gobbler getter, and I am looking forward to it.
In order to prepare for the hunt, I bought Primo’s turkey call combo pack. It came with a crystal friction call w/ striker, mouth call, crow call, and instructional DVD. I started making noise with the crow call immediately out of the package because that was the easiest to use, but I was not exactly sure where or why a crow call is used. The friction call soon followed after I got the surface sanded up. My brother in-law had to join in on the calling, so he dialed up some turkey calls on his I-phone. We drove the family nuts over Easter weekend. I tried to use the mouth call, but could only manage to blow spit all over. Good thing the combo pack came with an instructional DVD.
Over the next few days I watched the DVD and was able to generate some clucks and other strange noises. Once I began practicing, I realized I had the call in upside down. Once I flipped it over to the right position, I was able to make some pretty good turkey calls and purrs. The best place I found to practice is while driving to and from work. I also travel around the country by car quite a bit for work, so I had ample time to practice while driving. Is there a law that outlaws turkey calling and driving? It is hands free! If there is such a law, I am heading for a ticket pretty soon.
License is purchased, and I have the calling down. Next, I bought some Remington 3” #4
turkey loads. Hevi-Shot was recommended, but I could not find it and heard it was pretty expensive anyways at $3 a shell. Either way, I set up some paper targets against a hay bale on my father in-law’s farm, installed my turkey choke, and commenced firing from 10-15 yards.
Besides blowing apart the hay bale, the shot was grouped very well, but the main grouping was about 4 inches below the bulls. Now I know why I can’t hit clays to save my life with my shot barrel, even with modified or improved cylinder. Well, some new elevation/wind adjustable Truglo sights are on order. Once I get those installed, I’ll sight in again.
I will hunt the same area I go deer hunting, because I have seen and heard plenty while out on stand last fall in that area. I will try to get out the evening before to do a little scouting, but if
not, I’ll go out mid morning the next day and scout/hunt. If I don’t get a gobbler, it sure won’t be for lack of trying. If anything, maybe I’ll see some deer prospects to keep an eye out for next fall, and get some video or photos. Though at this time I would prefer a big bearded tom.
A sneaky slogger captured on my trail cam.
I just finished reading an article in my April magazine subscription of Field and Stream called “The Shed Poachers,” and it certainly
had me raising an eyebrow. In a nutshell, the article discussed the almost “criminal” activity of bone bandits trespassing onto private property without permission or regard to the boundaries of ones private land. It apparently has become such an epidemic, so much so that it has sparked groups to form and discuss how to prevent this type of activity from continuing. An option that surfaced was to put up trail cameras in areas undetectable by the rack robbers, but still be able to capture their images should they happen to wander by. In turn, the photos would be given over to law enforcement or posted in public places.
This could actually work. I had my trail camera up on private land in early February through early March of this year to catch shots of deer, and at the same time I could tell when they were beginning to shed. I have photos from late February showing bucks with their antlers. In early March, they were pretty much gone.
Well, to my surprise, one of the photos showed someone walking by my cam on that private
property. The problem is the photo only showed the individual from the chin down, and was partially obscured by snow. The photo did show the man sporting a beard, unzipped brown jacket, and a local high school athletic shirt. I am just happy my cam was not stolen, but I can’t be certain to say the same for any sheds that my have been dropped on the property. I showed the photo to the owner, but he did not know who it might have been.
As far as I know it’s legal in every state to pick up dropped antlers for private collection, material use, or to even sell. However, the article made reference to making selling sheds illegal as a solution to the problem. I am greatly opposed to that as a solution, and so did 66% of the Field and Stream readers. I myself do not sell antlers, but if there is a market for it, I say keep it a free and open.
I would support increasing and consistently enforcing fines for trespassers, and mplementing progressive fines for holding antlers on private property. The fines have to be severe enough and well advertised to actually detour rack wranglers. They do it for poaching deer in Iowa, so why not trespassing?
I would really like to see the awareness of illegal trespassing raised, even if not connected with shed hunting. I went many years with only the option to hunt public land, and I stayed
off of private land when I did not have permission. Now I have uninhibited access to private land. I feel I owe a great deal of respect to the land owners and a sense of duty to help protect their privacy. It’s one thing to make a mistake, and accidently wander onto private
property, but intentionally doing so without regard should be a crime.
A few years ago in Wisconsin, a hunter trespassed onto private property and open fired on the hunting party after he was told to leave. Can we be more vigilant as individual hunters and outdoorsmen, or do we need to form groups to raise awareness about illegal trespassing? I think both can be accomplished, and I am starting right here with this blog. The photo I have of the sneaky slogger is just a couple of weeks old and I am seriously considering posting it in town and sending it to local law enforcement and DNR.
It’s still March, and I just mowed my lawn yesterday. I would have rather been out shed hunting, but if I had not taken on that summer chore, my yard would have resembled a lush clover food plot. I considered setting up a tree stand in my lone oak tree to scout my own
yard, but the appearance to my neighbors of a crazy mountain man perched in my
tree prevented me from setting climbing pegs.
As I was mowing the lawn, the bright sun worked on turning me a light shade of pink, and I could not help but think again how mild this winter has been. The last two winters have been vey mild with little snow and cold, at least in Central Iowa. I wonder how much of an impact these mild winters and recent warm weather will have on the local deer heard.
I was talking to my wife the other day about this. My thinking is that mild winters and warm temperatures would contribute significantly to an increase in the heard levels, and thus have an abundance of deer to choose from while hunting. Normal to big snow and cold temperature winters would normally cause moderate levels of starvation or inability of the weaker deer to survive due to extreme conditions. With mild winters, deer would have a much higher chance of surviving. More survival means a bigger deer heard, at least in my average mind. It makes sense to me. Research might be able to debunk it though.
However, some insight from my better half almost caused me to fall out of my stand, figuratively. Her insight proved thought provoking, as it always does. I love you honey!
She grew up on a cattle farm and is currently in her 2nd year of veterinarian school. The
school of hard knocks and higher learning have given her a more objective and practical understanding of how mild winters can affect cattle. It appears these schools of thought can also prove true with wildlife.
A mild winter has affects on other factors that can actually have a negative impact on not only cattle but wildlife populations. The two factors that would have the largest impact are parasites and disease. Insects and other creepy crawlies also survive mild winters, and this
survival leads to an increase in disease potential, which could wipe out a deer heard. At first, a deer heard might be larger, but will dwindle over time if disease takes hold in a population. A larger dear heard at first would most likely allow for disease to spread more rampant due to
increased deer to deer contact. Areas that have a dear heard with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) are at more risk, and the risk is even higher where baiting is legal. Mild winters, CWD, and baiting sounds like a recipe for disaster.
In a controlled setting, such as with cattle ownership, these factors might be easier to control.
In a wildlife setting, the factors can only be controlled through administrative type heard control policies. That is, increase permits quotas and open up areas normally restricted to hunting.
While I was cruising around my yard on my Husqvarna in late march, the balance of entire ecosystem we like to play could be changing due to mild winters and warm weather. The changes could be good or bad, but only time will tell what happens. Will the DNR increase permit quotas in the following years to try and head off the affects of mild winters? I am not sure, and I have not actually looked up any research on this, but my magic 8 ball says “signs point to yes.”
Today was warm. Upper 60’s warm. In fact, it has been a very mild winter, and extremely warm over the last few weeks. We have even been in the 80’s a couple of days already, but I was thinking cold. It is March, and it could snow next week, but I was not thinking that I want it to be cold or for it to return anytime soon. Nope, I’ll take this unseasonably warm weather over shoveling, frozen toes, or even Haagen-Dazs. The thought of cold entered my mind as I was driving to work today when 2 deer jumped in front of my truck. They didn’t waste any time as they nervously bounded toward the wood line on the other side of the road. Those two animals still had thick winter coats of hair, and to them it must feel like a steamy jungle.
The last time I had seen deer in that area, it was definitely colder than it was today, and their winter coats were a necessity. It did them some good. My mind then wandered to the
warm weather gear I wear while hunting that allows me to sit for long periods of time in cold temperatures. I was thinking of everything I wear from the Under Armor to the one piece overalls that help keep me warm and dry. I have stuff that I forget I have until I start prepping for new seasons. I could stand to upgrade my 1000 gram insulated boots, but they still work well.
I remember the days I first started hunting. I was discharged from the Army in 1992 after serving a little over 2 years at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. When I got home, I was asked by my Father if I would like to go deer hunting that year in Northern Wisconsin. If it meant guys getting together, shooting guns, eating crap, and drinking beer…then I was all in! Problem was I knew bunk about hunting or how to keep warm. My father bought me a K-Mart-special, blaze orange jacket, and Red Ball boots for my birthday, which was a few days before Wisconsin gun-deer opening day. He said “it‘s up to you to bring other warm clothes.” He never really defined what he meant by “other warm clothes.”
Opening day rolled around, and it was one of the colder opening days we hunted that I could remember. Did I mention that I had just returned from living in Hawaii for the last two years? The boots worked ok. It was my lack of “other warm clothes” that only kept me tepid. Long johns, blue jeans, and flannel shirts did not cut it. Even the blaze orange jacket, as thick as it appeared, could not keep me from shivering. I ran through my cheapo hand warmers faster than striking wet matches.
The years went by, but I improved my cold weather gear. I have learned how to layer better using a combination of Under Armor, polypropylene / wool mix long underwear, wool blend socks w/ liners, wool pants, and wool tops. I have long since stopped using the K-Mart-special jacket and upgraded to well insulated, water/wind proof jackets, bibs, and overalls. I have a collection of hats, masks, gloves, and of course I still pack hand warmers like a squirrel collecting nuts. Heat Factory Mega warmers tend to be my favorites as they will last as long as I can, if not longer. I have never tried the battery heated socks, but I don’t intend to
either. I could see a wardrobe malfunction occurring and defective circuits creating some bad moments in the woods.
I will dress up or down depending on how warm or cold it will be, but sometimes I tend to overdo it forgetting that walking to and from stands create warmth. When I overdo it, I always think back to my first days of hunting and figure things could be worse. Now, as I get out into the woods this year and I overdress for conditions, I will be thinking about those
deer running across the road in very unseasonably warm weather while still sporting thick winter coats of hair. At least if I overdress, I can remove some clothing if I want to. The deer have to pray for the cold weather to return, or stick to limited movement until they lose their winter coats.
It's March…Mid March. There is not much going on in the world of hunting. Turkey hunting is around the corner, and I might take to the field for that. Right now, looking for sheds and hiking is about all I can do to curb my appetite for whitetail deer hunting, and I am hungry. Unfortunately, I have not found any sheds, but the owner of the property I hunt found one side of a possible 8-pointer. He has some nice photos of an 8 and 9 pointer, and there is a 10 pointer running around out there, but these have not turned up.
I took my tree cam down because the bucks are now antlerless, but I miss checking it. I was
going to wait until summer to put it back up, but I think I will find some trails this weekend, and hang it back up to see what’s moving around at this time of year. Maybe I can capture
the coyotes that are prowling the hunting grounds or some of the turkey. Whatever I see, I'll be sure to post right here in the Deer Blind or Tree Stand.
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