IDNR reminds deer hunters to be
safe when hunting from tree stands
Tree stands are the No. 1 source of
hunting-related accidents in Illinois
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[November 17, 2023]
people across Illinois prepare for this weekend’s firearm deer
season, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is urging
hunters to use safety harnesses when hunting from tree stands in the
field. Tree stands are the No. 1 source of hunting-related accidents
and fatalities in Illinois.
The 2023 firearm deer season dates are Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 30-Dec.
“Our utmost priority is ensuring hunters’ safety so they can return
home unharmed after every hunt,” said Jed Whitchurch, director of
IDNR’s Office of Law Enforcement. “While we want them to enjoy
themselves and achieve success in the field, we emphasize putting
safety first. Our recommendation for hunters is to prioritize safety
above all other considerations.”
So far during the fall 2023 hunting season, which includes archery
deer season, Illinois Conservation Police have documented two
hunting-related fatalities, both of which involved tree stands. One
fatality occurred when a hunter fell out of a 15-foot-tall ladder
tree stand. The second occurred when a hunter who’d been reported
missing was eventually found deceased on the ground at the base of
his ladder stand.
Tree stand falls, often from heights of 20 to 30 feet, can cause
significant injuries, including broken bones, spinal damage,
paralysis, concussions, organ injuries, internal bleeding, sprains,
cuts, and bruises. Most of these injuries are preventable by using
fall arrest systems, avoiding drug and alcohol use, and making sure
the tree stand equipment is in good working order.
“By using a functional and trustworthy fall arrest system and
thoroughly examining every tree stand component prior to use, most
tree stand accidents can be avoided,” Whitchurch said. “The
consequences of falling from a tree stand can have a lasting impact
on hunters and their loved ones. The Illinois Conservation Police
strongly emphasize prioritizing safety in all hunting endeavors.”
Conservation police have already documented several tree stand falls
that resulted in injuries this season.
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• A hunter in Jefferson County fell from a tree stand, resulting
in two broken legs. He crawled nearly a half mile before a
passerby saw him and called 911.
• A hunter in Saline County fell 25 feet from a tree
stand when the straps broke. He suffered from severe back pain from
landing on his feet.
• A hunter in Cass County fell from a tree stand after a climbing
stick strap broke. His injuries required surgery.
Tree stand-related falls in previous years:
• 2022 – 6
• 2021 – 13
• 2020 – 14, one of which was fatal
Tree stand safety tips include:
• Use a fall arrest system that includes a safety harness and follow
the manufacturer’s guidelines that come with it.
• Inspect the tree stand for wear and tear before each use.
• Use a haul line to bring up unloaded firearms, bows, and other
• Take a cell phone.
• Tell a friend or loved one where you intend to hunt and when you
intend to return.
• Avoid drug or alcohol use before and during hunting.
For more information about hunting safety, visit IDNR’s hunter
[Illinois Office of Communication and