Amidst a recent recall of two popular outdoor hunting devices, extra attention is being paid to the potentially serious injuries that can occur due to faulty and defective tree stands. Both the Gorilla, Inc. EXO-Tech Safety Harness and the StrongBuilt Hang-On fixed-position tree stand have been voluntarily recalled by their respective manufacturers in the past week due to defects in their construction. Both devices are necessary for hunters to achieve advantageous heights in wilderness hunting, and thusly also possess the possibility of dangerous accidents.
In the case of the EXO-Tech Safety Harness, more than 90 units have been recalled due to defective harness webbing that offers no support for a hunter while climbing to his tree stand. Without support, the webbing tears and the hunter would be dropped from whatever height he has reached. The Hang-On tree stands are being recalled due to reports of injuries caused by falls due to defective latches. With the latch not closing properly, entire tree stands have been ejected from the tree, with the hunter as well. More than a dozen leg, back, and hip injuries have been reported because of the Hang-On tree stand.
While these two recall cases are merely examples, they are a reminder that there is a larger problem and possibility for failure in these tree stands and related products. Through a brief scan of recent news reports, there have been a large variety of hunting-related stories from around the country that involve falls and other accidents. Granted, many of them are for reasons other than faulty tree stands, but they are all just as dangerous to the head and back, are they are all avoidable.
One recent case of tree stand-related injury occurred in Davenport, Iowa, where a 57-year old hunter was injured after a 15-foot fall from his tree stand. As the hunter attempted to descend from his stand, his glove was caught on a foot peg, causing him to slip and fall to the ground. He was transported to a nearby hospital and treated for back injuries. While the extent of his injuries is not known, it is clear that this hunter is one of many who suffer from avoidable accidents.
There is a wide variety of factors that play into the severity of back, neck, and head injuries caused by falls from tree stands. Tree stand heights can range from 10 to 30 feet, and emergency medical response time can be influenced by weather and time of day. On average, the time of emergency medical response can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 14 hours, depending on the region. Recent studies have shown that the majority of tree stand accidents take place in the evening, and in some cases there are influencing factors such as alcohol and below- or near-freezing temperatures.
Medical experts and hunting safety advocates alike suggest greater awareness to tone down the quantity of unnecessary and avoidable accidents during hunting season. Greater hunting awareness is emphasized, as is proper equipment inspection, use of communication devices, and especially leaving a hunting plan with a friend or loved one before embarking on a trip.