By Brandon Reed
Wednesday morning October 8th I woke just like many weekdays to get ready for work. Coffee made, dog fed, dog walked then back to have coffee and breakfast while watching the news. This past Wednesday when I turned on the TV it was still on the outdoor channel from the evening before. There was a show on called Real Life Stories/Tragedies...I think that's the name. Basically, it’s a show about people who have near death or life changing experiences. The episode on that morning was about a man who went off on a morning of fishing. He never told his wife, or anyone, for that matter where he would be.
When he got to his fishing location he fell into the brook and got his leg jammed between two boulders and was unable to get himself free. Long story short, he spent the night there in that brook in very cold water until the next day when those searching for him finally found him. His body temp was 64 degrees. He was lucky to have survived and to not lose his foot.
Now you’re wondering why I shared that story. Well, that evening I had decided to go out the next morning to hunt one of my favorite areas. I would be alone so I told my wife where I would be and which stand. She looked and asked why I was telling her. Should something happen my hunting buddies would know where to find me. I explained to her the above story that I had seen and thus I was giving her my whereabouts which is something I don’t always do 100% of the time.
Thursday morning I got up and was on my way to my hunting location. I made it into the stand with about 15 minutes before shooting light. When I climbed the ladder sticks up to my stand I paused and did a quick look at the strap and it looked ok. I then proceeded up and hitched on my harness and stepped onto the stand as I often do. I hung my backpack from the tree, pulled up my bow and got settled in for a morning hunt 20+ feet above the forest floor.
The sky was lighting up and the forest floor was beginning to lighten as well. I was on high alert in hopes of something coming in front of my stand. I have had good pictures of deer, bear and coyote at this location.
After about 45 minutes of sitting I thought I heard something coming from behind me. I grabbed my bow and was ready. I sat and waited and kept looking behind me to see if something was moving in slowly. Finally, I had to stand to get a better view. After looking for a bit and seeing nothing coming I sat back down with bow in hand hoping something might appear. Finally I decided to hang the bow up as it went quiet again.
This is where the morning went bad in a hurry. I stood to hang my bow and take one last look behind me. Just as I turned back to hang the bow my tree stand straps snapped and down went the stand, down went my bow, and down I went only to be stopped quick, thankfully, by my tree harness. I can’t recall if any thoughts went through my mind at the time other than trying to save myself here. I grabbed the tree and hooked a leg onto the ladder stick and was able to take pressure off the harness. I held on for a bit to regain composure and then got my pack down to the ground and unhooked myself and climbed slowly down.
While the harness did cinch into my thighs pretty good (bruised me badly) and up my backside ( which actually broke the skin and I bled good) I was so very thankful to have hooked on right away. In my younger days I was not always good about wearing a harness which was not so smart on my part, but nowadays with a wife and kids I need to be more responsible and have been. Today was truly a day to be thankful for that change in my hunting ways.
I share this in hopes that those who read it will glean something from it. I never thought I would fall from a tree or have a mishap like this. Hopefully all those that climb into a tree wear a safety harness and clip on right away, even before you step onto the stand if you can.
Check the straps on your stands often.
Always let someone know where you are going to be and your plans each hunt.
I am thankful my wife didn’t have to send anyone out to find me hanging from a tree or laying on the ground and I owe that to my safety harness and the good Lord watching over me. The timing of the show I watched couldn’t have been timed better. I believe I was truly being prepared for something like this to happen even though I never would have expected it at the time. It was a good reminder of the importance of letting someone know where you are.
Be safe everyone and think of this story the next time you head into your stand. Please share it with your hunting buddies as well. It can happen to any of us.
Unfortunately I now speak from experience.