SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — As firearm deer hunting season is underway, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is offering tree stand safety tips as tree stands are the number one source of hunting-related accidents in Illinois.
“Our utmost priority is ensuring hunters’ safety so they can return home unharmed after every hunt,” said Jed Whitchurch, director of IDNR’s Office of Law Enforcement. “While we want them to enjoy themselves and achieve success in the field, we emphasize putting safety first. Our recommendation for hunters is to prioritize safety above all other considerations.”
There have been three tree stand falls/injuries reported so far in the fall 2023 hunting season, one in Jefferson County where a hunter fell and broke two legs, one in Saline County where a hunter fell 25 feet from a tree stand, and one in Cass County where a hunter fell from a tree stand.
There were six tree stand-related injuries in 2022, 13 in 2021, and 14 (one being fatal) in 2020.
The IDNR said tree stand falls are often from 20 to 30 feet and can cause significant injuries including broken bones, spinal damage, paralysis, concussions, organ injuries, internal bleeding, sprains, cuts, and bruises. IDNR also said the injuries are preventable by using fall arrest systems, avoiding drug and alcohol use, and making sure the tree stand equipment is in good working order.
There have also been two Illinois fatalities involving tree stands this season, according to the Illinois Conservation Police. One occurred as a hunter fell out of a 15-foot ladder tree stand, and another hunter was reported missing and later found dead on the ground at the base of his ladder stand.
The IDNR has the following tree stand safety tips for hunters:
Use a fall arrest system that includes a safety harness and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines that come with it.
- Use a fall arrest system that includes a safety harness and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines that come with it.
- Inspect the tree stand for wear and tear before each use.
- Use a haul line to bring up unloaded firearms, bows, and other hunting equipment.
- Take a cell phone.
- Tell a friend or loved one where you intend to hunt and when you intend to return.
- Avoid drug or alcohol use before and during hunting.
For more information about hunting safety, visit IDNR’s hunter safety website.