By MATT FURST
Capital News Service
LANSING — Leaves aren’t the only things falling in the woods this month.
Department of Natural Resources officials are concerned about hunters injuring themselves by falling out of tree stands.
Many hunters don’t follow the safety rules of hunting out of a tree stand, said Lt. Suzanne Koppelo, DNR hunter safety administrator.
One hunter died last year after falling out of his stand in Iron County, she said.
Many stands are placed as high as 20 feet off the ground, Koppelo said.
There are ways to safely hunt out tree stands, she said. All approved stands come with safety belts that should be worn while hunting, she said. Koppelo also recommended using a rope and harness to enter and leave a stand.
“There are no laws that hunters have to wear safety belts or harnesses, but wearing them only reduces the chance of an accident,” Koppelo said.
Marty Bianga, hunter and salesman at Land & Lakes Sports in Escanaba, said his cousin was hunting out of a tree stand earlier this fall and shattered his leg when he fell 17 feet.
“My cousin grabbed a dead tree branch while climbing into his tree stand,” Bianga said. “The branch snapped, and now he’s using crutches.”
Bianga said most of the accidents could be avoided by making sure the stands are secured properly and by hunters being cautious.
“People just need to use common sense,” he said.
Adam Carpenter, owner of Carpenter’s Outdoor Outfitters in Marquette, said that most hunting accidents could be attributed to lack of thinking.
“People get hurt because of pure, 100 percent, unadulterated carelessness,” Carpenter said.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By MATT FURST