Talkin' Outdoors

Humans are designed and built with feet that are designed for standing and walking on the ground. The feet and claws of squirrels and raccoons serve multi-purposes. They can move around quite handily on the ground but when necessary, they can scoot up trees with ease.

A special time of year is right around the corner. Archery season for deer in much of the state kicks off October 1. This is when the majority of bow hunters will act like squirrels and raccoons; they’ll watch for deer from elevated positions with good reason. Deer watch for predators at eye level, not 20 feet above their line of sight.

Hunters who sit on stands in trees are faced with special challenges. They don’t have claws for climbing. They must utilize man-made steps of some sort to reach the desired height and once they get there, they’ll sit on a seat they have already locked on to the tree. Climbing in and out of such stands gives hunters one-up on approaching deer. This process, getting in and out of such stands, can also result in the danger of falling with consequences that are almost always bad. Serious injuries, or worse, can and do happen every year when mistakes are made.

Justin Lanclos, owner of (www.louisianabowhunter.com), is a prime example of things that can go wrong. Lanclos fell from his lock-on stand nearly 15 months ago and today, he hobbles around with his knee sporting a heavy brace.

“Last July, I was getting my last stand prepared for bow season; my son was clearing shooting lanes as I directed him from my elevated position. Once the lanes were cleared, I had one foot on my stand and the other on the top step of my climbing sticks. To steady myself for the descent I’d made hundreds of times before, I reached for a branch that was in the perfect position. However,” Lanclos said, “I hadn’t noticed that the branch had rotted and when I grabbed it to get in position to climb down, the branch broke and I fell 20 feet to the ground, shattering my femur in the process.”

With the help of his son, Lanclos was able to make it out of the woods and in the months that followed, underwent several surgeries to reconstruct his battered and broken leg and knee.

Could this accident have been prevented? What could Lanclos have done to prevent his 20 foot fall?

“I didn’t own a Life Line,” Lanclos said. “In hindsight, a harness would not have saved me from falling. Had I been wearing one, I more than likely would have already detached it for my climb down. A Life Line would have kept me from falling.”

Using a Life Line requires you to attach it to the bottom of the tree before you climb and it is secured to the tree at intervals as you climb.

“Using this line allows you to stay secured to the tree as you climb, while you’re in the stand and as you climb down. You’re locked in the whole time your feet are off the ground,” Lanclos noted.

“I have talked with hunters who have fallen and to widows of victims of fatal falls and it may be surprising to learn that you can die from a fall of only 8-10 feet. It only takes 25 pounds of pressure to break a bone and if that bone is in the head or neck region, it could be fatal.”

Bow season already opened in southwest Louisiana where Lanclos hunts and he was there on opening day. However, he hunted from a ground blind. Does he ever plan to hunt from an elevated stand again?

“I hope to. I expect to be 100 percent eventually and I’ll be back on my lock-on. However,” he added, “you can bet I’ll have all the safety bells and whistles working for me.”

(To view a five minute instructional video on how the Life Line works and how to correctly use it, go to HunterSafetySystem.com.)