Iowa Urging Safety as Archery Season Approaches
State conservation officials are urging hunters to keep safety at the forefront during Iowa's ever-popular deer and fall turkey bow seasons.
Authorities issued the reminder as Iowa's roughly 50,000 bow hunters anxiously await the Oct. 1 season opener. Most will be hunting from elevated positions, a common denominator in bow hunting accidents.
"Even though the number of bow hunting accidents is comparably low in Iowa, in virtually every case the accident could have been avoided if a few simple precautions were followed," said Rod Slings, Recreational Safety Coordinator for the Iowa DNR.
First and foremost, hunters should always wear a fall restraint system, whether it's during practice or actual hunting situations, Slings said. Investigations show a third of all treestand hunters will fall sometime during their bow hunting career. Seventy-five to 80-percent of the accidents happen on the way up or down the stand, or transitioning into the stand," Slings said. "It doesn't have to be that way. Bottom line, you should wear a fall restraint system whenever your feet leave the ground. Just like your treestand, make sure the harness system is approved by the Treestand Manufacturers Association, and follow the manufacturer's directions on proper use."
Secondly, "Plan your hunt and hunt your plan. Period." He said. "Leave a detailed itinerary with a friend or family member, including directions to your hunt site, a map of your treestand locations and the time you expect to be home. If something happens, they know where to find you. Under no circumstance should you deviate from those plans.
"Carry an emergency signaling device, like a cell phone. You can't use it for hunting, but it could save your life in the event of an accident," Slings added. "And don't keep it in your truck or your gear bag. If you fall, and the phone is in your bag at the top of the treestand, it's not going to do you any good. Stick it in a pocket."
Other precautions Slings noted included making sure all gear is in good working condition, use a haul line to ferry gear up and down the tree and make slow, short movements when using a treestand. Also, take time to pick a tree that is strong and safe. Loose-bark trees, like shagbark hickory, are a poor choice, as are dying or damaged trees.
Finally, know your limitations.
"There is no need to take chances. Accidents don't discriminate between the novice and experienced hunters," Slings said. "The more you can do to ensure your own safety in the field, the better off you are."
For more information, contact Slings at 515-281-6152, or Alan Foster at 515-281-8874