LINCOLN, Neb. – A Gretna man was hospitalized with apparent pelvic injuries after falling from a tree stand Nov. 14 while hunting in Dixon County northeast of Obert.
Todd M. Church, 44, had just climbed into a hang-on tree stand at approximately 3:15 p.m. when one of the ratchet straps failed, causing the stand platform to drop down. He fell approximately 17 feet.
Church, who was able to make a cell phone call to another hunter in the area, was transported by Wynot Fire and Rescue to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission conservation officers are investigating. They found no sign that a fall-arrest system was used with the tree stand. To prevent similar incidents, Game and Parks urges tree stand hunters to make safety the top priority and to use a fall-arrest system.
A fall-arrest system is the gear needed to keep a tree stand hunter from falling to the ground. It includes a full-body harness and a means to attach the hunter and harness to the tree from the time he or she steps off the ground until the final step back down. The fall-arrest system harness should fit snugly over hunting clothes. Jackets and coats can be worn over top of the harness.
According to the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) and Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation, falls from tree stands account for 36 percent of all hunting accidents and are the No. 1 cause of serious injury and deaths during deer hunting season in the United States.
Both fall-arrest systems and tree stands should meet TMA standards. Tree stand hunters should always use a fall-arrest system rated for his or her weight. Ropes should never be used as a substitute for a fall-arrest system.
In addition, hunters should:
— be sure their tree stand is in proper working order,
— unload firearms when climbing into and out of tree stands,
— use a haul line to raise and lower gear into the stand,
— and maintain three points of contact when climbing the stand.
For information about hunter safety or hunter education courses, visit outdoornebraska.ne.gov/huntereducation or call Hunter Education Coordinator Wendy Horine at 402-471-6134.