White County Man Seriously Injured in Fall From Tree Stand

October 1, 2013
Dwayne Page

A White County man was seriously injured Sunday when he fell from a tree stand while deer hunting in the Indian Creek area near Center Hill Lake.

He is 34 year old Michael Phifer of Sparta, according to Captain Dustin Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross, who did not have the hunter's name when relating the story to WJLE, said the man and his father-in-law had accessed their hunting location by boat and were about 250 yards from the water's edge in the Indian Creek area. "They had actually went scouting Sunday afternoon and found this place where they wanted to hunt. They went back down to the boat and got their climbing stand equipment and walked back up. He had just ascended and gotten to the point where he wanted to stop but he wasn't wearing a safety harness and he fell some twenty five feet from the tree stand to the ground," said Officer Cross. The man suffered multiple broken bones in the fall.

In addition to TWRA Officers, members of DeKalb EMS and the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad were called to the scene. "The ambulance came to the Indian Creek Boat Ramp. We transported the paramedics from the boat ramp to the scene, which was about a mile. We had a bunch of the Rescue Squad members come out and help us. We had to pack him out in a stokes basket (and carry him) about 250 yards over some pretty rough terrain back down to our boat. We really appreciate the help we got from our local rescue squad," said Officer Cross.

Phifer was transported by ambulance to DeKalb Community Hospital and then to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) urges hunters to use care when hunting from a tree stand.

Many deer hunters find hunting from an elevated stand to be advantageous. It is often more difficult for a deer to detect a hunter in a tree stand than one on the ground, but the TWRA is urging hunters to be cautious anytime they use a stand.

The most common cause of tree stand accidents is a fall. All of these falls could be prevented with the proper use of a safety harness attached to the tree. Many falls occur when permanent, wooden stands, which have been left out in the weather attached to a tree, decay and become unsafe. Eventually, the weight of a hunter can cause the stand to collapse.

If possible, use temporary stands that may be stored in a dry area after the deer season. If a permanent stand must be used, always check it before hunting to make certain it is safe and securely attached. Whether using a permanent or temporary stand, always use a safety harness.

Ten rules for tree stand safety are:
1.Always wear a safety harness while hunting from a tree stand, including while ascending and descending.
2.Never climb into a permanent stand you have not built yourself or carefully checked out.
3.Never hunt from tree limbs.
4.Be sure the commercial stand you have is safe. Practice with it before using it in the woods.
5.Never climb a tree that is too small or too large for your stand to fit safely.
6.Be sure your stand is level at the height you wish to hunt.
7.Always stand up slowly and be sure of your balance.
8.Be sure you are steady and braced before shooting.
9.Always use a haul line for your bow. Never climb with your equipment.
10.Never climb a dead tree or one with dead limbs above your head.

Hunters should be aware that on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) the use of wire, nails, or other metal material is prohibited in building or attaching of climbing devices or hunting stands. Portable devices or stands that do not injure trees can be used. Hunting from permanent attached stands is prohibited. Leaving any personal property on a WMA, including tree stands, unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited without prior approval of the area manager.

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