I just imagine my wife trying to explain to my boys that I had died - needlessly - because I was too proud to carry a phone with me. And I’d feel pretty damn stupid lying someplace, knowing that I was going to DIE, and ONLY because nobody knew where I was or that I needed help.
Only thing worse would be if something were to happen to one of the kids.
My dad his buddies and I used what was called a safety belt basically two seat belts from a junk yard and a small seat belt sewn into a figure 8 so you could get some distance off the tree.
But hell we were using BAKER tree stands which was an experience itself.
I never climb a tree without a safety belt and Prussic system.
Whenever I hang a lock-on I try to use my summit and work my way down.
Regardless just like last night putting up my ladder stick I had my vest and a linesman rope around the tree.
Lbshooter I agree 100% with your thoughts
Kelly, if its a tree with limbs and your using those limbs to climb that tree how do you go about putting in your Prussic system initially? Do you climb up it first then put the system in?
Things happen and and you can never be 100% safe, but climbing a tree without a safety harness is foolhardy and invites disaster.
Use a safety system.
I do believe in safety systems. I desperately want to wear them. Every year I read a thread about someone who gets severely hurt or killed in a fall, and I "re-dedicate" myself to the cause, but invariably I don't follow through. I have bought HSS's, SOP harness, and a RC harness. Due to the circumstances of where I hunt (many hunters, thieves around, public land primarily) I have chosen a hunting style that takes me bringing my stand in and out with each sit. This means putting it up and taking it down each time. I will not have a safety line at the top of the tree to "clip into." Yes I know I could climb lineman's style, but here is what I do. I use a LW treestand and 3 LW steps to get into my tree. I inspect all parts of my system prior to every single use. From everything I have read, and a common sense approach to thinking about it nearly all treestand falls happen due to one of a few variables: climbing when falling, stand and/or parts (such as straps) breaking, I will include branches in that category - something breaks, or falling asleep in a stand. Pieces of my stand and setup will not break. They are new, strong, and inspected each use. I am not falling asleep in the stand, but I am climbing at my own risk. My steps will not fail.
I am 30 years old, athletic, in good shape. The question I really ask myself - is climbing a tree on a set of climbing sticks without a harness a major danger to me? The trees I climb are almost all straight poplar trees. They aren't at crazy angles or anything. In todays day and age of helicopter parenting I hope I have the ability to let my daughter climb a tree unassisted and feel the joy of climbing. Do we think it is stupid to let our kids climb trees or climb trees ourselves for that matter? I do realize that if a person is tied in 100% of the time, the accident is preventable. The extra time and enjoyment it would rob me of from my hunts is legitimate. I like to be mobile and move quick if needed. Trying to do that while being tied in all the time is essentially an oxymoron.
So either I completely abandon my hunting style, or I keep going with the level of risk I have in climbing a straight tree 17ft up untethered on strong, stable sticks. Just this summer to show off to my 3 year old I climbed a much spindlier tree to over 20 feet just to show her how a person can climb trees. To get up I had to jump to a branch and hang with both arms, then swing my feet up so that I am essentially upside down and then swing my body around onto the branch. Any number of bad things could have happened during that sequence.
My point is, at some point we do have to trust our bodies, and the processes of life. What is more dangerous - climbing the tree or my 35 minute drive to get there? Do not take this the wrong way - I am not against tying in at all. My dream is to own a property where I can set up stands, and then have ropes etc to tie off in, but right now it just isn't happening. Am I "stupid" as you say? I don't believe I am, I feel like I have weighed and measured the risks, and believe that I have very very little risk in the way I climb to my stand. I am not leaving anything out in the weather, or where something can happen to it when I am not around. If I know I am pulling an all day sit and I may be tired I will bring my RC harness and tie in for the sit. Saying that anyone who doesn't tie in is stupid is wrong IMO, but then again, that is just my opinion, and maybe it is a stupid one lol. Flame away.
My brother is 63 and still uses a few hang-ons...but he's a young 63.
At home Urban hunt different but a lot 80 year old trees so young trees grow tall quick with no limbs.
But when I do have to go over limbs I never use a limb for my hand or feet. I use rapid rails or sectional ladder sticks.
Any decent harness has loops for anlinemans rope and I will have two ropes one on each loop with a caribeaner tied at the end.
Last night I didn’t have a caribeaner so I used a webbing material and tied a certain knot.
Same as when I tied my prussic as well
I then put the two straps around the stand and drop my tow rope down and clip it on the stand. I go back down, put on my safety vest, put my bow hook, quiver tree attachment, and pack hook in my right pocket. I attach the bow to the tow rope, and put the lineman's rope I attach to the tree with in my pocket. I climb to the top step, I put the lineman's rope around the tree, cinch it up as high as I can reach and then attach it to my safety vest. Before climbing up I make sure I pull the safety vest attachment strap to the front of me. I do this BEFORE stepping onto the stand. This is the only step new for me, and I started doing this after Pat's video and reading most of the falls occur at this point, when stepping onto the stand.
I then screw in my holders, pull up my bow and I am set to go. I do feel more comfortable being attached before I take the pack off my back and hang it, and it does not take any longer to do this. I also inspect my equipment regularly like you do, and change the straps out annually. This is what works for me, but I am not ashamed to admit I say a prayer before each hunt that it be a safe one.
Well, I suppose your system DOES make it a lot easier to find the corpses.
“As an EMT”
I guess I’m assuming that the calls that you’re objecting to are the false alarms and you think that people who carry phones are just a bunch of sissies. Maybe I’m misreading you entirely. Honestly, I hope so.
#1 - A map with an X on it does nobody any good whatsoever if your plan is to hunt your way through an area, rather than just park your arse in a tree all damn day. And it’s pretty much equally useless if you are hunting area and decide to switch stand locations because the wind is not doing what you expected it to be doing, or some similar change in plans.
#2 - most falls occur while climbing or descending. And personally, I find it more difficult to climb first thing in the morning when I might still be a bit groggy, and it’s cold, and my hands are not working well, and it’s dark, and I’m in a hurry because I want to get into position before it gets to legal light.... So anyway, I guess I would be willing to bet that more falls occur in the morning than at any other time of day.
#3 - “As an EMT”, I’m sure you’ve been taught the importance of the “Golden Hour” after an injury. And as a bow hunter who has probably heard MANY TIMES the age-old advice about giving an animal a good 45 minutes to an hour to expire…
Admittedly, my wife is a Worrier, so calling her when I’m out of the woods saves her some anxiety, which makes her more pleasant to come home to, and more interested in allowing me the time to myself to go hunting whenever I can. Which ain’t often, so that matters, too. (If you don’t think it’s important that your wife is HAPPY to see you go do something that’s important to you, you’re either not married or won’t be for long. JMO, but I’ve tried it both ways)
Anyway, point being.... if you've told everybody not to look for you ‘til they see you, that’s all well and good until you find yourself in the situation in which Steve’s friend DIED. At least he went out knowing that people loved him and would come for him, and he had a chance to tell his son how much he meant to him. At least I HOPE that was a comfort to him. If he was like me, he probably wanted to apologize for being such a dumbass, and died while tortured by the thought of what his son was just about to have to go through and all that he was going to miss out on.
Everyone...I practiced with this safety device while hunting. I had just killed a doe and climbed half way down my steps. I decided to jump the remaining 10 feet and it literally slowed my descent down to about a foot a second. I have zero connection with this company but If your going to hunt in a tree...then buy this device. It will save your life.
In the past i have used strap on ladders/steps. I do not feel comfortable with nylon straps and never have, thats just me. I put a chain around each one and a truckers binder. they dont so much as wiggle a little. My tree stand is put in the same way. a chain, a binder, chain wraped around binder handle then locked back to a link around the tree. And yes, always tie in with harness before I step onto the stand.
The cable had broken - so only 1 cable on 1 side holding the platform to the stand itsself, I had 3 ratchet straps on the tree, one of them must have been holding that platform tight ... I was in that stand 4 hours before I noticed
No fall - but note to self, stands/pieces break
“What is more dangerous - climbing the tree or my 35 minute drive to get there? ”
Lemme ask you this: Do you wear a seatbelt??
What about your kids?
No offense, bud, but just straight-up brain development-wise, you’re still about 5 years short of fully baked - and I don’t mean in the Surfer Dude sense. That’s not a knock on you or anybody your age; it’s just how long it takes for the human brain to become fully developed, and among the last regions to mature are the ones relating to risk assessment and foreseeing the consequences of our actions. Is not that you’re not smart, it’s that you’re not quite There yet.
Time was, the Tribal Elders - the Old Dudes - were revered for their experience and Wisdom. They were also about 40.
1). Over 50% of all hunter accidents nationally are treestand related. Statistics tell us that one (1) out of every THREE (3) hunters will fall from their treestand in their lifetime. The sudden stop created by a treestand safety harness when falling can put over 1,800 lbs of force on your body, causing potential injuries to your back, neck, ribs, and other internal injuries. Suspension trauma, also known as harness hang syndrome, can occur in less than 10-minutes, with the symptoms of suspension trauma occuring within only 5-minutes! When suspended from a treestand safety harness, blood begins to pool in your legs after a few minutes. Your heart rate starts to increase to draw that blood back to itself, but is pumping even more blood into your legs at the same time. Given enough time, two (2) things will occur: The stress on your heart will lead to a heart attack Lack of blood (oxygen) to your brain causes you to lose consciousness and lead to brain damage or death.
Solidvtechnique. But when you’re climbing a tree, you’re just climbing a tree. Three points are hard to maintain when you’re hanging stands and tying knots and working with ratchet straps. Or suffering from Buck Fever and shifting your feet to get into a better shooting position.
I know a former semi-pro hockey player who pivoted around to show his daughter how to skate backwards; hooked an edge, knocked himself out cold, and couldn’t work for almost a month. How could that happen to someone with his athletic set? He wasn’t thinking about being athletic.
Everybody knows that cell phones cause distracted driving and that it’s as dangerous (or more) than driving drunk. Standing on a platform 10-20 feet up isn’t particularly dangerous unless you’re “somehow” distracted.
It was the last Friday of shotgun season here in Masdachusetts and I had planned to hunt on my friends farm with him as he had taken the day off from work. It was pouring rain and my wife asked me as I was getting out of bed why was I going hunting in the pouring rain? I told her my friend took the day off from work so I was going to meet him at the farm.
Because of the rain and cold I had on a camo slicker and when I tried to put on my harness was having all sorts of trouble getting it around my legs, buckling etc. Said screw it and threw the harness in my truck bed.
Was in my stand with my shotgun's action in my lap under my slicker when I saw a doe at about 20 yards. Had difficulty getting my gun out from under so stood up, tried to aim and could not see sights because of hood. Deer made me and starts backing up, leaned over to shoot around a tree and way off balance shot the deer. The recoil from the 12 gauge slug gun was enough to send me backwards where I landed on the white Oaks tree root . Immediately could not breath as I later learned I had broken 5 ribs and was bleeding internally. Could not feel my legs nor move my torso. My friend heard the shot, found me and went to the Farmhouse to call 911.EMT'scame and with ATV and stretcher trailer got me to ambulance and local hospital. There after tests told me the could not treat me because of internal bleeding and rushed me to a trauma center.
At trauma center told me I only had couple of hours to live if had not had chest tube inserted to remove blood from chest cavity. Worst pain I have ever felt was having chest tube inserted through my broken ribs.
After diagnosis of complete paraplegia at T-11 fracture in my spine, had spinal surgery where Harrington rods were inserted in my back and then 6 weeks at Spaulding Rehab in Boston.
Next 2 years were spent trying to get used to life in a chair. Accepted it , began swimming playing sports, skiing and best of all started hunting again, first at Para hunts and then with my son and last few years with friends like Charlie and Forest Bows who took thetime to reintroduce l to Bowhunting . Cannot thank them enough.
Words of wisdom. Do not be complacent about safety like I was . Do not be overconfident in your abilities. Accidents happen. Treat your safety harness and tether like American Express- don't leave home without it!
I always run a life line with all my stand placements. Run and gun, as well as long term stands. I run my life line up as high as my short self can reach...then I will actually kneel on the seat...this gives me about another 6" and cinch down my life line there or safety rope. That puts about 3-4 feet above my head. With the wingman harness I attach the end to the safety rope (prussic or ropeman ascender) which I then attach my harness tether to. I am able to sit down but if I lean forward to "tie my shoe" it stops me short. If I were to fall, the tether would stop me at stand level. I think I'd fall about 6". However with the wingman, I can fall about a foot below the bottom of my stand and if I were to be knocked out (hit my head on the tree...whatever) the wingman slowly lowers me to the ground...oh and I can use it over and over.
I grew up hunting with my dad and two brothers. Dad died from a tree stand fall 3 years ago. My brother asked him to wear a harness that morning and he scoffed. Night before he died, he actually bragged to a friend how he had never fallen. No joke. Glad he died doing something he loved, but he could still be here. Then one of my brothers has fallen twice. Last time was 18 feet in August this year. Broke his back in two places. Lucky that he is alive and not paralyzed. But he has sworn off anything other than ground blinds and ladder stands.
When I was young and stupid, I also fell. Not far ... about 8 feet up. The screw in steps were wet and my hand slipped off as I raised myself up. No harness. Again, the good Lord was watching out for me.
So four of us ... four falls. One death. One broken back.
For those wondering how you climb trees with lots of branches the very first time, when you don't have a safety line attached at the top, you use 2 linemen belts. That way you are always clipped in with one as you move the other. Is it a pain? Yep. But with 1/3 odds that at some point in your life you will fall, you are crazy not to do it.
Given my family's experience, I now have a healthy fear of tree stands and climbing trees. Scares the snot out of me anymore to even put up a stand. I still do it. But I do it smart. Every stand now has a lifeline. Be safe guys and gals. Our families' need us to come home.
I should given up hunting at 50- didn't realize I was "washed up" for hunting as we have been so recently advised. (LOL).
Do get in stands now w/o a safety belt. Have also become a proponent of a life line especially with lock-ons.
Second thing is You can’t fix stupid
Newhunter1 your post trying to show the dangers of wearing a harness is freaking hilarious!
Apauls I don’t understand how a harness like muddy or the ones they sell at even menards are bulky or get in the way?
I would rather fall 2-6 feet and be caught and tethered by a vest than to fall 25 feet to the earths crust!
Yeh I might be sore but I am willing to bet I have a 99% chance of not being a para or quadraphelegic
Apuals question for you? Do you wear a seatbelt when driving a car?
Trust me guys I fall into the Stupid is as stupid does category myself.
Lots of times I won’t throw a helmet on when I take a cruise on my scooter
Read the latest Bowhunter magazine. Great article on a man that fell. The thing you need to think about, not whether you think you are athletic enough or strong enough (you aren't) but what happens to your family if you did fall? You want your wife wiping your butt? How do you think she would feel about that? You want to be around and in one piece for your kids when they get older? It is not about you, what about THEM?
I have been hunting out of trees since 1974. I used to think I was bulletproof, and I was strong and athletic. Fortunately, I have never fell other than twice at the base of the tree when a tree step pulled out. Made me think about what would have happened if it had been the top one and not the bottom one. No longer use them.
I use Lone Wolf sticks too. I hunt out of crooked trees and trees with lots of limbs. Sometimes it is hard to use the climbing belt. If I have to skip it for one set of steps, it is always back on right after that. And when the last one goes on, the harness strap goes around the tree and does not come off until I get down. I never hang the stand without it being on. My harness is a minimal one, goes on over my first layer of clothing, if I need to put another layer on it goes over the top of it. I don't even realize I am wearing it anymore.
You could climb a thousand trees and never have a problem. But it only takes that one time. Kind of like if your parachute doesn't open. Only takes once.
When climbing/hanging a hang-on TRY using 2 lineman's ropes. One carabiner attached on the right hip and one on the left. One is around a tree while the other is attached at the hip, over the shoulder and to the other hip. When you reach a branch, just unclip one carabiner, reach around the tree and re-attach. Then unclip the other carabiner from the tree and over your shoulder to the other hip and keep climbing. THEN when you reach the platform, you can also use the second carabiner to safely transition to the platform without being unconnected. With a little practice this MIGHT slow you down a little, but not much. Plus with a lineman's attachment, you are free to use BOTH hands when hanging steps and the stand... BEST OF LUCK!
I laugh too...you ought to see the 6" scar on my head. I fell off my ladder, while hanging a deer to skin. Went 15' up the ladder because my gambrel was up at the top. Wasn't thinking straight (only three hours sleep the night before) and some how I fell out of the ladder onto my concrete driveway...on top of my head. Woke up to arterial bleeding...remembered what the Marines taught me to do. Pulled my shirt off and tried to stop the bleeding. Staggered up the stairs, woke my wife up and made an ER nurse freak out. Now, with that said (typed) a harness wouldn't have helped me there. However all the times I have fell asleep and leaned forward or sideways...well a harness is essential...that and about 8 hours of sleep, a thermos of strong coffee helps every time.
I have seen lots of equipment that have passed vibration analysis test with flying colors to fail within a few hours.
We are talking about tree stands with straps under UV all year or stands made in China
As far as leaving the map with an X on it? For my wife...LOL that might be ok if I only hunted one spot. But with 2 million acres of public land available in PA, 40,000+ acres right behind my house....There would be an AWFUL lot of x's...I continually hunt different spots. And as far as a cell phone? that's great if you have service...but more often than not I don't.
Be safe as you can, and make your peace with God beforehand...just in case.
That all changed on sunny cold morning in 1995 when I was climbing up a HUGE double trunked shag bark hickory. I was using a combination of tree limbs (HUGE NO NO will NEVER do that again) and screw in tree steps to climb one of the two trunks. Tree stand was at least 24-25' feet off the ground. I was best guess 20' up stepping off a big limb and onto a step when I heard a sickening sphincter factor of 20+ (a 10 factor is air tight) clenching "CRAAAAACK" Thank all mighty God I had the presence of mind and luck to be able to launch myself as the branch was braking on to and grab the second trunk, again I thank God I was able to grab onto the trunk and didn't fall, the impact caused me to smack my face/head violently against the trunk along with my chest. The result was the wind was slammed out of me and I was nearly knocked out and I distinctly recall seeing stars.
Then the REAL fun began. How does one slide down a shag bark covered in poison ivy and not end up in the ER? Thankfully I didn't get to badly affected and was only 10 minuets from my motel. I spent a VERY, VERY long time in the shower scrubbing the affected area of my upper body until it was raw. I was hunting totally alone and was single at that time and what scared me the most was, #1-NO ONE at all knew where I was hunting #2-No one would have missed me once I became over due once I didn't return #3-This was before cell phones existed so I had no way of getting help had I been unable to get to my truck #4-The low for that night was going to be in the low 30's* so even if my injuries wouldn't have been fatal dying from hypothermia was a very real possibility. I would love to say I never hunted again without a tree stand safety rope, but for many years I did. I did however never again climb up to or down from a hang on stand with out a linemans belt. I also NEVER again used any part of a tree to climb into or down from a stand. I went to a full body harness about 10 years ago and this year because of becoming aware of the lethality of suspension trama I am using a rock climbing harness. I am very upset at two of my oldest friends and hunting partners because even though I gifted him one, he never uses any type of fall arrest system and the other only occasionally uses an el-cheapo poorly designed harness that came free with his stand and wont take my advise on getting a harness with a suspension relief strap. Even after I explained to him that if he falls and can not self rescue or some how relieve the pressure on his thighs blood will pool in his lower legs and in less than an hour he will slip into unconsciousness and quite possibly die. Lastly the fact that I showed them both the statistic that 40% off all hunters who hunt most of their time from a hang on treestand will experience a fall of some degree sadly didn't change their attitudes.
I use safety harness. I don’t bounce.
This would only be useful when hanging lifelines preseason, not for mobile hunters who hang and hunt each time. To put up a lifeline before climbing, I use the pictured slingshot/fishing reel combo to gently shoot a 1 oz or so weight over a branch at about 25 feet up. The fishing line is then tied to paracord line to pull it over the branch. Then the paracord pulls the lifeline over the branch. When you loop the lifeline around the tree, it is on the opposite side of the trunk than the limb it is over, such that the weight is supported by the loop being tightened around the trunk, not just the limb. Then the lifeline is in place while you are still on the ground. Not for everyone. Not for every tree, but at times it is useful. One look up the tree will tell you if you have a clear shot at a useful branch. On good trees it is quicker than it sounds, and can be quicker than climbing with a lifeline.
Another thing I do if I think I will use the same tree the next season- when I take down the lifeline after season, I leave a length of paracord over a limb up high, and tied to itself where it hangs down within reach of the ground. Then I only have to tie the lifeline to the paracord and pull it over. (Try to avoid limbs that tend to have a crease where it meets the trunk that will jam the cord into the crease.)
the picture of the guy in a wheel chair was enough for me
That way I can safely step onto the stand/sticks and be in step sequence . Nothing worse than trying to find a step with the wrong foot
In the beginning there was nothing I could do for myself. I could drink water if I could reach the glass. I was non weight bearing on my left leg and right arm for a full 3 months. Altogether I had 5 surgeries to repair all of the damage. I was only allowed to walk, with a waIlker, beginning at the end of February 2017. I promised myself that I would walk out of the rehab facility, and I did. While there I worked hard at everything they told me to do. Nothing like having an old gym rat for a patient.
Now, I was wearing a harness. The stand was a lock on type held to the tree with a 4000 lb strap. It was a big tree, and we installed an I bolt to hook on to. I had one foot on the ladder and one on the stand in the process of hooking up when the strap broke. It was like a trap door. After assessing my injuries, I realized I was badly injured and needed immediate help. Fortunately, I had my phone and coverage, the landowner knew my exact location, and I was in the trauma center within 1 1/2 hours.
To tell you that the last year has been agonizing work is a gross understatement. I still do about 3 1/2 hours of self imposed rehab 6 days a week. The doctors and PTs all tell me that I'm doing exceedingly well. I still have a ways to go with my shoulder, but I can pull my bow although at a slightly reduced draw weight- 60 lbs. I can now shoot any rifle in the closet-at least once. I'm told I will get to 95-100%, I'm likely high or low of 95% now. I'm determined to get to 100%, and refuse to stop until I'm there.
I now hunt mostly from ground blinds. I'm not afraid of stands, but I've learned that they may not be entirely necessary. There is a learning curve to using ground blinds, but I took my first post accident deer last week-a nice 7 point. I took it from field to freezer by myself. It was a real confidence builder. I now have no issues with packing my gear in and out of my hunting spots.
I haven't shared my story with many outside of my circle, but I feel that my experiences are best shared to prevent others from falling and becoming another statistic. There were 101 different possible outcomes, all bad. I was extremely lucky and blessed. As in every bad experience, there are silver linings. Here's what I've learned:
1. I knew about the life lines, but never took the time and effort to understand and use them. My feet will never leave the ground without me being hooked up to one. We installed one on every stand-even the tower stands. I will not hunt a stand without one.
2. I will not use a lock on stand. I know I can do it safely, but.... I will use a life line on a climber although I haven't had the cajones to use mine yet.
3. I will not install a stand without using a harness, lineman's belt, and life line.
4. I will observe every other safety rule that I have been skirting or ignoring.
5. New straps will be installed and used every year.
6. I've learned a lot about myself, my friends, and God. I wouldn't have made it through without faith in each-heavy in the later.
Notwithstanding, I still run into hunters who refuse to protect themselves from falling. Some don't see the need to even wear a harness let alone use a lineman's belt or life line. As for me I will never put myself in those circumstances again. I no longer believe that bad things happen to someone else.
Please be safe out there. No hunt is worth coming home in an ambulance or a box or months of painful and hard rehab hoping for a 100% recovery. Despite the severity and number of my injuries, I'm going to get there. Don't become a statistic.
No deer is worth dying for and or risk causing my family to suffer financial ruin. Becoming a father should change the priorities and perspectives of all decent men.
This is the most asinine statement I have ever seen. I hang my LW stand every time I hunt, and being tied with a lineman's belt actually makes it faster for me to get up. Having both hands free to set sticks and hang your stand makes it easier. And safer.
Stupid is as stupid does.............
same here, way faster with both hands free. Quick and quiet process with LW system.
A life line costs around $30 and takes less than 5 minutes to install on an existing stand. Even if I had installed and used it the day of my fall, I think it would have only added another 1-2 minutes to my climb-even in the dark. I don't think it would not add a single second to a climbing stand. I slide the tree strap up and down as I go anyway.
Learning lessons by getting hit upside the head isn't necessary if you can learn from another's bad experience. But, good judgment usually, but not always, follows bad judgment.
I probably misread your post..
My Navy Seal nephew calculated around 35 mph. I didn't know that was possible. Several months after I was released from rehab, another hunter asked how high I was. He didn't think 25' was all that far.
I only hunt 15’ and even that makes me nervous..
Thanks for your post
I was 60 at the time. I was 6' @ 175 lbs with a 32" waist. I regularly ran, biked, and worked out at the gym. I've been doing that for the last 40 odd years. I am athletic to the point of obsession and firmly believe in physical fitness. I've always used fall restraints. BTW the old belts make great haul ropes to get your game out of the woods. I am very careful climbing ladders and trees. 3 points of contact at all times and slow and deliberate. I've never had so much as a close call. My wife teased that I was Mr. Safety. Yet, I fell. My wife got up early for Black Friday and was meeting our youngest daughter at Bass Pro that morning. She got the call shortly after 6:30 am and collapsed in the middle of the store. The landowner used my phone to call her. Our oldest daughter, who lives in SC, raced to the Augusta trauma center. She stayed right with me until my wife was able to arrange travel several days later. She returned when my wife left to come home to firm up arrangements for my follow up rehab and care.
The pain was excruciating, the drugs mind numbing and mind altering. I was not in charge of anything. Medical decisions were made by my wife and daughter. Much information was kept from me thinking that I had enough worries. Weeks later I learned just how close everything had been. I had IVs, a catheter through my abdomen to my bladder, things on my legs to assist blood flow and prevent clots, my right arm was in a sling, my broken fingers splinted. I remember getting at least 4 units of blood during my stay. Periodically, they would roll me one way or the other to prevent bed sores and to change the linens. That hurt. I was on oxygen and some sort of breathing device. I had a collapsed lung. It hurt to breathe.
They took me home by ambulance to a rehab facility in Sarasota, Florida. The first day the PTs came in to teach me how to slide/scoot on a board from the bed to the wheelchair. It was painful and painful to watch. My wife left the room. I passed out. I could not sit up to get out of bed. I could not lift my left foot off the ground unassisted. I still had the catheter and urine bag that required regular attention. That did not come out until mid-March. I was very weak and entirely dependent on others to attend me. I could only sleep flat on my back supported by multiple pillows.
I broke my humerus right below the ball in my shoulder, basically in 2. It was repaired with screws and plates. I could not use my arm for 8 weeks. Then it was still non weight bearing and passive rehab only for another 4 weeks. My entire right arm was affected from my broken fingers to my neck. A week or so after the sling was removed, I discovered that I could wipe my own butt. I have no recollection of breaking my arm or fingers. They guess I tried to catch myself. It was not underneath me when I fell. The grip strength in my right hand was 2 lbs as compared to 90 lbs in my left. Just in the last 90 days am I able to make a fist and close my hand. I still cannot raise my arm from the side to an overhead position without it "catching".
My pelvis was broken in 4-5 places. Basically, it was 2 halves. They repaired it with screws and plates. There was nothing they could do for the tailbone or vertebrae except let them heal. I still use a "special" cushion to sit on-mostly for driving. But I needed to get out of bed. I could only do that for several hours at a time. It was September before I could walk with a normal gait. That came after months of work on a treadmill.
The oxys caused more problems. I insisted on being off of them. They insisted I needed them for PT and OT. I insisted on another way. Advil and Ice. I would rather deal with the pain on my own terms without drugs. PT and OT were painful and for a gym rat working with 2-5 lb weights somewhat discouraging. But, that was all I could do. The PTs and OTs were great and did a lot to encourage and help me. My wife couldn't watch.
I had many visitors-family, friends and colleagues . Some could stomach it and some could not. My daughter went outside and cried. My office staff would bring me work and set up an office at the rehab center. I had little energy or stamina and could only work a hour or so at a time. My family decorated my room for Christmas. I was the envy of the facility. Oh boy. My wife came every day. With traffic it could be a 2-4 hour round trip for her. I tried to remain strong and positive. Honestly, it was an hour to hour and day to day struggle, but a struggle that I think I mostly won. I still go back and re-read the mountain of cards and letters I received when I'm feeling down or discouraged.
The muscle atrophy was immediate and astonishing. Within a few weeks I had loose skin where muscle used to be almost like a fat person who looses weight rapidly. My right arm and left leg were pencil thin. I teased with my PT that I would only do my exercised half assed. It was that bad and immediate. There are still noticeable left and right size and strength differences. My waist ballooned to 44" and my weight to 200 lbs. They insisted on a particular diet and daily calorie intake. I'm now at 34" and 162 lbs. I'll probable be low of 155 lbs by the time I get my waist back to where I started. I lost that much muscle mass. It'll be difficult to get back.
I'm self employed with 3 employees who depend on me for their income. I'm the only real income source for my business. I purchased very good medical insurance for my office and family. But it only paid $7k of a $45k helicopter ride and $2.5k of a $6k ambulance ride home. I had zero income for 8 months. I've spent $100k of savings to pay my normal bills. I'll still need to pay the helicopter and ambulance companies after the appeals are exhausted. Home repairs and renovations were put off or abated. My plans to buy a new truck are off for the foreseeable future.
I now start my day with about 1 1/2 hours of hand and shoulder exercises and stretches for my back, legs, hand and shoulder. After work I go the gym for another 2 hours. 1 hour 10 mins of cardio split between the eliptical rider, bike, and treadmill. I then work the selected muscle group for the day. I do this 6 days a week. I don't get home until 8:00-8:30 pm. Eat, go to bed, and do it again. I'm just now up to a 15 mile bike ride on Saturday mornings. I'm not up to trail riding yet. I can now haul 50-60 lbs of gear on back into the woods without issue. I believe I have another 4-6 months to go to full 100% recovery. It still hurts, but the pain is manageable without medication. My strength is returning, but at my age I doubt that I'll be able to rebuild the muscle mass.
I have mild to moderate PTSD. I remember every single millisecond of my fall and every event right up to the time I made it to ICU. It's difficult to relate my story unemotionally. I have some bad nights. Last week was my first time in a tower stand since my accident. I was entirely safe, but I was trembling. That was entirely involuntary. It didn't happen again, but I don't know if it will return.
I've revised my safety plan. I used to give my wife a map of the general area I intended to hunt and update her with Lat/Lon locations from the field. I'd call her when I got out of the woods that night. I'm convinced that having my phone saved my life. I shudder to think what I would have had to do if I didn't have my phone or didn't have coverage. Knowing me I would have assessed, planned, and implemented for self rescue. I just don't think I would have survived. If I did, I feel certain that I would have injured myself more in the process.
You don't have to be far off the beaten track not to have cell service. In addition to my phone, I now have a Delorme Inreach Satellite PLB. It has GPS, text and email capabilities and an emergency SOS signal. Cost $300. It connects to an app on my phone via Bluetooth. I can program any number of messages that can be sent with the push of a button such as "Just checking in. Everything's fine". All messages to my wife include my current Lat/Lon. It continuously updates my wife on my exact track and location. She can follow it on the computer if she gets bored. I check in at regular intervals.
And, I'm one of the "lucky" statistics. You're all adults able to make your own decisions, but think about this. An accident does not affect just you. It affects all those who depend on you. Every fall and resulting injuries are different, but my story does not appear to be atypical. If you still decide to stay your course, go in peace. I'm not here to judge. However, if even one more person follows the advice here and learns from my experience and poor judgment, I feel redeemed.
Be safe out there.
I also got off OXYCONTIN very quickly as well as Baclofin, Nerontin and a host of other drugs that made we want to do literally nothing but staying in bed!
My salvation was and still is lap swimming for 1/2 mile At least 3 days per week. The post swim high lasts much longer than any pain pill.
You are doing everything right and trust me it gets easier- took me about 2-3 years to get used to life in a wheelchair. Now with limitations and adaptive equipment feel pretty good about life and really enjoy everything about archery and Bowhunting.
Keep up your great attitude and spirit- it inspires me and that is saying something!
Thanks so much for taking the time for sharing all of this. I have copied everything you wrote and will print it out for a friend of mine. His set ups are sketchy and I keep reminding him it is only a matter of time.
May you have a complete recovery.
Last week was a close one when the fairly new stick ladder had a rung with a cold weld. I was coming done and the weld broke loose. Luckily my inner ninja kicked in and I still had one foot and two hands still on the stick. The teachable moment is of course use your safety line and just because something is new doesn't mean it can't fail. That includes stands, sticks, ladders and harnesses.
His brother went back to get his gear and just followed the blood trail.
I always wear a harness...
I now use my linemens belt to put my steps and stands in, I then attach my life line just above the tree stand. Hook my life line to the linemen's belt, unhook the linemens strap that goes around the tree and climb into my stand and then reposition my life line up higher in tree.. Here's a pic on my tree stand safety gear. Ed
Yup.....like you said, there are those that have....and those that will.
I had this one stand that was about 25’ up and you had to use several limbs (yes, I know a bad idea) to get into the stand. I was coming down from the stand one afternoon, and the limb I was holding onto just let go. About 20’ up. As I was free falling, I thought this is not good at all. Then about 2’ into the fall, if that, the lifeline caught and I was secure again. No telling what would have happened to me it I wouldn’t have had the lifeline that day. I cringe when I read some of these posts and people just choose not to where a harness and use a life line. Be safe guys.
Are you referring to the 20’ ladder sticks that come in four foot sections ?
20 foot sticks that lock into each other with multiple straps are the safest way to go and all we use now. If someone insist on using 4 foot sections separately add a SECOND strap. I would predict these four foot separate climbing sections will either disappear or will come with 2 straps. Sun and rain eat cloth straps. Life lines on every tree!!!! I was very lucky my first 35 years of tree hunting.