Zero hunt­ing-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties last year; hunters re­minded to stay vig­i­lant

The Weekly Vista - - Community - RANDY ZELLERS AGFC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

LIT­TLE ROCK — Last year was one of the few years on record that Arkansas did not have a fa­tal­ity due to a hunt­ing ac­ci­dent, but hunters should be mind­ful to keep up their guard.

The news comes from the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion’s An­nual Hunter In­ci­dent Re­port, which was re­leased last week to Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tors through­out Arkansas. The re­port sum­ma­rizes all hunt­ing-re­lated in­ci­dents from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018,

and gives in­struc­tors and other hunt­ing safety ad­vo­cates in­for­ma­tion on ar­eas where im­prove­ments can be made.

“Still, by and large, falls from tree stands make up the largest por­tion of hunt­ing ac­ci­dents,” said Joe Hug­gins, hunter ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor for the AGFC. “Fif­teen of the 23 re­ported ac­ci­dents last year were falls from stands.”

Hug­gins says tree stand falls spanned all ages of hunters last year, from a sev­e­nand an eight-year-old, to two 75-year-old vet­er­ans of the deer woods.

“Some were from 10 feet and some were from as high as 25 feet,” Hug­gins said. “Some even had safety har­nesses on but weren’t con­nected to the tree at the time of the fall.”

Many falls oc­cur when peo­ple are tran­si­tion­ing from a lad­der or steps into a stand, and Hug­gins sug­gests set­ting up a ver­ti­cal rope and prus­sic knot to al­ways stay con­nected to the tree.

“If some­one’s search­ing for de­tails about the de­vice, the brand Hunter Safety Sys­tems calls it a life­line, but other brands sell com­pa­ra­ble safety ropes,” Hug­gins said. “The whole idea of the sys­tem is to al­ways have your har­ness at­tached to the tree from the time you leave the ground un­til the time you re­turn after the hunt.”

Hug­gins says that the re­port only shows in­ci­dents that were re­ported, ei­ther from the hunters, hos­pi­tals or first-re­spon­ders. It also shows only in­ci­dents when the per­son was di­rectly in­volved with hunt­ing at the time.

“We know of other in­ci­dents that oc­curred while peo­ple were get­ting a duck boat or deer stand ready, that don’t fall un­der the re­port,” Hug­gins said. “And there are a lot of twisted an­kles, cuts and mi­nor in­juries that oc­cur that peo­ple never re­port.”

Even with 23 in­ci­dents be­ing re­ported, hunt­ing is one of the safest recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able. More than 318,500 li­censed hunters par­tic­i­pated last year, so less than 0.007 per­cent of hunters ex­pe­ri­enced a hunt­ing-re­lated in­jury.

“The per­cent­age of in­juries is way lower than most high school sports like foot­ball,” Hug­gins said. “We have about the same rate of in­jury as ta­ble ten­nis.”

Hug­gins says a hunter ed­u­ca­tion course is one of the best re­sources avail­able for hunters to re­main safe in the woods. In ad­di­tion to some ba­sic hunt­ing knowl­edge and gen­eral reg­u­la­tions, in­struc­tors fo­cus on ev­ery­one com­ing home to share sto­ries after the hunt is con­cluded.

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