Safety harnesses are essential

It’s a matter of life and death

One of my most-vivid hunting memories was formed during a particularly windy day when I ratcheted up a tall, straight pine tree in what turned out to be a vain attempt — again — to ambush the buck my camp mates and I knew traveled what we dubbed The Narrow Strip.

I never saw the buck that day. Or any deer, for that matter. But I can recall the sensation of swinging back and forth in that tree, like I was riding a metronome.

More than 35 feet up the pine.

With no safety strap.

That was back in my 20s, when I was 10 feet tall and bullet proof. And stupid, to boot.

I would love to say that was the first time I did something so foolish, but the truth is that I never, ever wore a safety strap back in the day. In fact, I didn’t even own one, despite doing all my hunting from climbers and lock-ons.

The rule my hunting partner and I shared was that higher was pretty much always better. We used 30-foot pull ropes, but regularly jacked up several extra feet after our rifles or bows left the ground.

That changed after I took a four-year hiatus from deer hunting back in the early 2000s; when I jumped back into the sport, I was shocked to learn those extreme heights scared the mess out of me unless I was securely attached to something solid.

Looking back, I now realize God watched over this dumb redneck during the years I tempted death.

The enormity of the risk hit home several years ago when a member of a fishing group with which I’m involved died after falling during a hunting trip.

And a story in this month’s issue is further proof that anyone — no matter how experienced — can make a mistake and take a potentially fatal fall. Fortunately, bowhunter Justin Lanclos survived the 20-foot drop, but he shattered a knee while prepping a stand for the season.

His 9-year-old son Carter, who watched his father’s tumble, had to step in and call for help.

The sobering truth is that there isn’t a single deer — no matter what kind of decoration it carries around — that’s worth your life. Or the suffering you will cause family members if you die or are crippled.

Hunting involves risk because we use deadly weapons and spend time in often remote and hostile environments. And we do everything we can to mitigate the dangers inherent in our sport.

So don’t forget to strap up whenever you’re in a tree.

It’s a matter of life and death.

About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.

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