Harnesses encouraged to keep hunters safe in woods

Hunters are being encouraged to use the latest safety gear to stay safe in the woods.

Friday is the start of rifle season, and there's a push in some popular hunting states to make sure that hunters who use tree stands are wearing safety harnesses.

â??It takes only six foot of a fall to break your back or hurt your neck,â?? said Lt. David Shaw, said Department of Natural Resources Cadillac District Law Supervisor.

Hunters are being encouraged to use the latest safety gear to stay safe in the woods.

â??We never had safety harnessesâ?¦ so folks were used to crawling up the trees when it became legal to bow hunt out of a tree about 1975 and they were used to crawling up and down trees. Nobody really thought of the safety of it,â?? said Bob Garner, Wexford County hunter.

That is not the case in todayâ??s world as full-body harnesses are replacing potentially dangerous belts.

â??We've actually done studies and I've been to different classes where a person jumps off even a small elevation where they have people spotters there with them, and it quickly cuts off their ability to breathe,â?? said Lt. Shaw.

The cold temperatures and snow covering many areas of northern Michigan can make climbing into hunting stands even more dangerous.

â??A lot of times hunters will climb up into the stand and then put the safety restraint on in case they fall, where actually the majority of the accidents occur climbing into the stand and climbing down from the stand, so we encourage hunters to harness up prior to climbing up into the stand.â??

Lieutenant Shaw has heard from injured hunters at hunter safety classes. Heâ??s hoping their stories will encourage others to make the effort to strap up.

â??Just because you've climbed up into your stand a hundred times, the one hundred and first time could be the time you have an accident, and this accident changes your life forever.â??

Local businesses say demand for safety harnesses has gone up in just the past three weeks.