Bow season began on the first Saturday in October. With hunting season upon us, we must make every effort to take all of the...

Bow season began on the first Saturday in October. With hunting season upon us, we must make every effort to take all of the necessary safety precautions.

I always thought that I was a safe hunter until a tree stand broke underneath me in November 2002 on the second Saturday of black powder season. An outdoor activity that many people enjoy put me out of work until the middle of January 2003. There was one thing that I did right that day, but there were many things that I did wrong.

The right thing was: I signed in and put my tag on the board in keeping with hunt club rules. This assured that others who were hunting that day would know where I was.

The things that I did wrong were:
•I did not have a cell phone or two-way radio with me.
•I did not have a full-body harness.
•I did not check the stand prior to climbing. My assumption was that the stand was OK, since someone had been in it the night before.
•I did not let my wife know where I would be hunting that day.

After I fell, I had to get myself back to my truck on my own. What had been a relatively easy walk in the morning was a long and grueling walk out. My injury was a bad break to my left collar bone. When I finally made it back to my truck, I was completely wasted. I laid across my seat for a little while, and then I started blowing my horn. When no one came, I drove myself to a road where I knew that someone had gone. Fortunately, he heard me blowing the horn and had started out to see what was wrong. He drove me to Chippenham Hospital.

I am still hunting and climbing trees. I have worn a full-body harness ever since my accident. I follow club rules concerning accountability, but I also tell my wife where I will be hunting. I also have my cell phone with me at all times. I check every stand before I climb it. If there is any question about the safety of the stand, I do not climb it. In accordance with club rules, I also make the necessary notifications to club leadership so that other club members can be notified.

My son gave me a ground blind last year for Christmas with the hope that I would spend more time on the ground.

Tree stands are only one thing that must be considered. As the season progresses more people participate, increasing the opportunity for something to go wrong. It is vitally important that every person practice gun safety. Everyone needs to know what they are shooting at, and if any doubt exists, do not shoot.

Young hunters are required to attend a hunter safety course, but older hunters were grandfathered in and never had to take one. The most important thing that a hunter must remember is that he/she is responsible for the projectiles that comes from their weapon.

Have a great hunting season and make safety a tremendous priority every time you go out. You must be intentional about everything. Do not load your gun until you reach your stand or have already climbed the tree. Unload your gun before you leave the tree stand. Make sure that you are secured to the tree stand, at all times, whether climbing or descending. Take absolutely nothing for granted.

One of the last calls that I ran as a