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South Williamsport, PA
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The Roving Sportsman… Safety Should Be Priority One!

Dove and Canada goose seasons are underway; squirrel season opens on September 11 and in just over 3 weeks, the statewide archery deer season will begin. Cooler temperatures are starting to prevail and soon fall colors will begin to paint the landscape. While most conscientious hunters practice and prepare before the seasons, an alarming number

Dove and Canada goose seasons are underway; squirrel season opens on September 11 and in just over 3 weeks, the statewide archery deer season will begin. Cooler temperatures are starting to prevail and soon fall colors will begin to paint the landscape. While most conscientious hunters practice and prepare before the seasons, an alarming number of outdoorsmen pay way too little attention to safety! Every year there are reports of hunters being seriously injured or being involved in an accident that results in death. Yet, a few simple steps can usually prevent any such occurrence.

We are fortunate here in Pennsylvania to have a Mentored Youth Hunting Program. We are, in fact, the very first state to have adopted such a program and over the years it has been revised and expanded. It provides an adult the opportunity to share the outdoor experience with a youth in a one-on-one scenario that provides the ideal teaching environment. Since its inception, there has always been an emphasis on safety and has stressed the importance of taking time to teach safe hunting practices to the new hunter. If you know of any young person who is mature enough and shows interest in hunting, why not take the opportunity to pass on to them your passions by working with them through this program? Remember to stress safety, for what they learn now will carry them through a lifetime of safe and enjoyable experiences.

It was the opening day of archery season in Alabama several years ago when veteran hunter Tim Crawford climbed up into his treestand, eagerly looking forward to what excitement the day would bring. He never could have imagined what was about to happen. Although he had been bowhunting and using a treestand for 25 years, fate was about to catch up to him. In the blink of an eye, because he was not using proper safety equipment, he fell 25 feet and was slammed to the ground. He lay there for more than eight hours and had plenty of time to reflect on life, his family and safety. He was finally discovered by his dog and his best hunting buddy who had become concerned when Tim was overdue back home from his hunt. Doctors told him that he was lucky to be alive and that he would never walk again. Miraculously, he has regained his ability to walk and has returned to hunting – now always conscientiously wearing a full body harness when he uses his treestand!

Unfortunately, Tim’s story is not unique, and yet, with simple precautions, can be easily avoided. Tree stands get hunters out of sight and smell of wary deer. While they are a very effective tool, they can sometimes get hunters into trouble. In fact, tree stands accidents are the leading cause of injury to hunters every year. So what can we do to ensure that we come home safely from an enjoyable day in the woods and not become one of the accident statistics?

Use common sense and “Think Safety!”

Only purchase a tree stand that is certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA). No, I am not endorsing a particular manufacturer, I am merely saying that you should focus on quality — this is not an item to try to save a few dollars on, but instead look closely at the materials and workmanship of the item. Some makers use D tubing or oval tubing for making the ladder sections and this provides a greater degree of stiffness in the legs, which helps reduce the flexing that can occur in a lesser-quality make.

Erecting a ladder stand or placing a tree stand is a two-man job, and three people makes even more sense. Don’t go too high — the higher you go, the smaller the vital area of a deer becomes and the greater the risk of a serious accident becomes. If you are returning to a stand that was set up the previous year, double check all ropes, straps and attachment cords as well as the security of the connections.

Above all else, always, always wear a full-body safety harness, even when climbing. Most falls occur while going up and down the tree and when getting into or out of the stand.

Lastly, make sure someone knows where you will be hunting and when you expect to return home. Carry a whistle and your cell phone in case you need to signal or call for help.

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