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Bow season safety

Bow season safety Bow season safety

Big week this week. All of bear hunting opens today when the dog hunters join the hunt, and Saturday is the bow opener. A little something to raise the hopes of everyone heading to the woods this weekend; a good buddy of mine harvested a whitetail buck on North Dakota’s bow opener that green scored 196 inches and change. A buck of several lifetimes on the opener harvested almost 60 days before the rut.

With the start of archery comes a lot of treestand use. Treestand injuries pose the greatest risk to any hunter right now, but especially the archery hunter. They warrant another look and reminder of how to safely use them, because we will use them. They are efficient and they provide so many advantages to the hunter.

The big thing is to use a safety harness from the ground to the stand and back to the ground again. Use tree steps that are not spaced too far apart. Use enough steps to be able to climb above the standing platform and step down onto the platform when getting in the stand. That also means that you have enough steps that extend high enough above the stand for hand grips allowing you to step down when entering. Getting out of the stand is the opposite, you should be able to step up for the first step and maintain three points of contact with hands and feet while getting into, out of, or climbing.

Ladder stands account for the highest number of falls and most occur while setting the stand up. Follow the instructions and have a line securing it to the tree before climbing up to tighten straps. Make sure the securing strap didn’t sun rot if the stand remained in the tree from the previous year. A friend of mine was seriously hurt because a rotted strap broke as he climbed into the stand. A lot of surgeries, pain, lost hunting, lost family time, lost work, and he still limps ten years later.

Use a pull rope to bring your bow and pack up into the stand and back to the ground so you have two hands for climbing and are better balanced.

One treestand safety video I saw worded it like this. “The safer you hunt from a treestand, the safer and more comfortable you will feel in it. You will spend more time hunting and have better shot placement. It will make you more successful.” Crossbows have helped keep hunters hunting for more years and allow hunters to improve their success. But crossbows have been the source of a lot of self-inflicted injuries in the recent years - serious injuries. If your fingers or hand get in the way of the bow string on a crossbow you will need a hand surgeon. Surgery is going to happen - most likely that night. Hunters have lost fingers, thumbs, and worse. When shooting a crossbow always be aware of the location of your fingers on the foregrip of the stock, and be sure to keep them out of the path of the bowstring. If your crossbow has safety wings, be sure to keep your fingers below them. After loading the arrow, be sure to check that it is pushed all of the way back into the trigger box, and that the nock is making proper contact with the string. These injuries don’t make the news, but they do change hunters’ lives.

Time for a little more on shooting a buck of a lifetime on opening day of the archery season. It’s a very impressive buck that ran close to 300 yards across a field before dropping. I’m sure Dusty was watching it run and thinking “OMG did I miss it?” Probably the longest 20 seconds of his life.

Shooting a 196 inch buck would mean knowing for the rest of your life your best day of hunting is behind you and the meat would probably be tough. Maybe it’s better to pass it and let someone else wreck their hunting for life. He disagrees, of course.

Opening weekend provides an opportunity to shoot a mature buck before the rut. It often gets overlooked by hunters who specifically target mature bucks. The smell of the leaves, the sounds of the woods, the things we see, the cool breeze, the solitude, and the escape from the toils of daily life greet the early season hunter like an old lost friend.

Good luck everyone and please remember: Safe Hunting is No Accident!

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