We were saddened last week with the news of the death of Lawrence A. Lewis of Drury, MA, who apparently fell out of his tree stand while hunting near Savoy State Forest on November 3. At the time of this writing, the circumstances of the fall are unknown. Perhaps he slipped, or had a seizure, or simply fell asleep and rolled off. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and was a valued member of the Berkshire Beagle Club. The last time I saw him was late last April while he was planting hundreds of small pine trees on the Club property. (They were planted to provide cover and protection for the hares from overhead predators). Our condolences go out to his family.
Unfortunately, he was the second local hunter to experience a fatal accident while treestand hunting in the last few years. Another bow hunter suffered a fatal fall from a tree while hunting near the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club several years ago.
Sadly, tree stand incidents and deaths are an all too familiar occurrence within the hunting community. According to the National Bowhunter Education Foundation’s (NBEF), national studies indicate that approximately 10% – 30% of hunters who hunt from an elevated stand will have an incident sometime in their hunting career. Some will not live to tell their story; others will tell it from a hospital bed or wheel chair. Many accident victims will never hunt again. Some states report higher fatality rates associated with tree stand incidents than with firearm incidents.
Many years ago, brothers Homer and Paul Ouellette taught a basic bowhunting course for the Mass DFW locally. I had the privilege of taking one of their last courses and learned a great deal from them about this form of hunting and especially about the safety, ethics, bowhunting methods, and care and handling of the game. Unfortunately no one teaches this course in the Berkshires anymore and in order to take it one has to travel to the eastern end of the state. (Click onto the MassWildlife’s web site to find the details of these courses).
However; MassWildlife’s Hunter Education Program has teamed up with the HUNTERcourse.com to offer tips and an opportunity to take a free, voluntary online treestand safety course. By reviewing this 15-minute interactive, narrated treestand safety course, a tree stand owner or user will learn about the latest Treestand Manufacturers Association’s safety standards and guidelines. I have taken it and highly recommend it to all treestand hunters. *****