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Oklahoma Wildlife Expo will have a class on tree stand safety this year

Students ride mountain bikes through a course during the 2017 Wildlife Expo on the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie. There are more than 120 activities and seminars scheduled during this year's event, which is Sept. 22-23. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN

Students ride mountain bikes through a course during the 2017 Wildlife Expo on the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie. There are more than 120 activities and seminars scheduled during this year's event, which is Sept. 22-23. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN

The annual Wildlife Expo opens Saturday at the Lazy E Arena and Ranch in Guthrie, and for the first time, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is adding an educational seminar on tree stand safety for hunters.

The Wildlife Expo in the past has featured a display about tree stands, but this year the agency is adding a seminar each day of the event to discuss what is becoming a deadly trend: Falling from tree stands.

“We've seen an increase in hunting accidents that involve tree stands,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department.

Meek said it is a message that even experienced hunters need to hear, because the topic wasn't addressed in hunter education classes a decade ago. Then, the focus of hunter education classes was gun safety.

“A lot of people who are out hunting in the field took the class before we were spending a lot of time on tree stand safety,” Meek said. “The last seven or eight years, we have really ramped up about talking about tree stand safety in our hunting ed classes.”

Deer archery season opens Oct. 1, and most bow hunters will be hunting from tree stands. The seminar at the Wildlife Expo will offer instruction on how to install a tree stand correctly and tips on staying safe.

“In the last 10 years or so, we have seen a lot more tree stand safety issues," Meek said. "Mainly, it used to be the rare archery hunter climbing up in a tree stand. Now, they have gotten cheaper and easily available, and people feel like they have to hunt out of a tree stand. There are just a lot more people climbing up in tree stands.”

And more people are falling out of them.

“It's definitely a lot more common than it was 10 years ago,” Meek said of tree stand accidents.

The causes of falls are many. Hunters slip on the climb up. They stand to take a shot and accidentally step over the edge. They fall asleep. The tree stand malfunctions and breaks.

But just one thing could prevent most of the falls, Meek said.

“Most would be prevented if (hunters) were wearing a tree safety harness,” he said. “If they are wearing a safety harness, they are not hitting the ground.”

Even though safety harnesses are not new, Meek said most hunters still will not wear one. That includes his friends.

“I am the hunter ed coordinator. I am wearing them out about it,” he said. “I've got a friend down in Broken Bow and I called his wife and said, ‘You make that dude wear a safety harness.' To my experience, they mostly don't.”

Hunters don't wear safety harnesses because they feel bulletproof, Meek said. And harnesses are a hassle to wear with the numerous straps and buckles, he said.

Like seat belts, no one needs a harness until they do. In 2013, three Oklahoma hunters died from falling out of a tree stand.

The Wildlife Department only received a total of three reports last year of falls, but Meeks said only a small percentage of such accidents actually get reported to the agency.

While emergency rooms are legally obligated to report treatment of a gunshot wound to law enforcement, no such requirement exists for other types of injuries incurred by hunters in the field.

“I personally know, just from being a hunter, people every year that fall out of their tree stands and they will not give us a report on it,” Meek said. “I think it's because it's embarrassing to them. It's very, very underreported.”

Meek wishes more hunters would take seriously the risk of falling and how important it is to wear a safety harness when hunting from a tree stand.

“Every year, hunters get hurt, and sometimes even die, by falling out of a tree stand,” Meek said. “Wearing a safety harness can save your life.”

OKLAHOMA WILDLIFE EXPO

 

• What: The Wildlife Expo features outdoor recreational and educational opportunities for the family with more than 120 activities, displays and seminars, including shotgun shooting, rock climbing, archery, wildlife management, mountain biking, camping, fishing, ATV riding, wildlife watching, hunting, etc.

• When: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23.

• Where: Lazy E Arena and Ranch in Guthrie.

• Cost: Admission is free.

• For more information: To see a complete schedule of activities, go to wildlifedepartment.com.

 

EXPO BY THE NUMBERS

 

• 41,000 — Number of clay targets at the shotgun shooting range.

• 2,000 — Number of worms to be provided to anglers to catch catfish and hybrid sunfish at the stocked pond.

• 76,000 — Number of pellets shot at the pellet rifle range.

• 700 — Pounds of bison used in 300 gallons of chili served in samples at the Taste of the Wild booth.

• 400 — Pounds of venison sausage to be handed out in samples at the Taste of the Wild booth.

• 1,020 — Pounds of fried catfish to be served at the Taste of the Wild booth.

• 124 — Number of school groups scheduled to attend the Expo on Friday, a day reserved for school field trips.

• 6,776 — Number of students expected to attend the Expo on Friday.

• 46,000 — Estimated number of visitors during all three days of last year's Wildlife Expo.

 

 

 

 

Related Photos
<p>Parents and children line the shore of a pond at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie to try and catch catfish and sunfish during last year's Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN]</p>

Parents and children line the shore of a pond at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie to try and catch catfish and sunfish during last year's Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0c6ced87f616fe1277717548a21c5f5e.jpg" alt="Photo - Parents and children line the shore of a pond at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie to try and catch catfish and sunfish during last year's Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Parents and children line the shore of a pond at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie to try and catch catfish and sunfish during last year's Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Parents and children line the shore of a pond at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie to try and catch catfish and sunfish during last year's Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2e47b8ce68ef953adf10347011203680.jpg" alt="Photo - Maelyee Beeby shoots a bow with the help of Benny Farar during the 2017 Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Maelyee Beeby shoots a bow with the help of Benny Farar during the 2017 Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Maelyee Beeby shoots a bow with the help of Benny Farar during the 2017 Wildlife Expo. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d9b22adddce816788496e12a2c577903.jpg" alt="Photo - Students ride mountain bikes through a course during the 2017 Wildlife Expo on the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie. There are more than 120 activities and seminars scheduled during this year's event, which is Sept. 22-23. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN " title=" Students ride mountain bikes through a course during the 2017 Wildlife Expo on the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie. There are more than 120 activities and seminars scheduled during this year's event, which is Sept. 22-23. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN "><figcaption> Students ride mountain bikes through a course during the 2017 Wildlife Expo on the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie. There are more than 120 activities and seminars scheduled during this year's event, which is Sept. 22-23. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN </figcaption></figure>
Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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