Outdoor Journal

Stand and deliver: So far this season, two North Carolina hunters have died in tree-stand related accidents. Last year, three died similarly. The grim fact is that all of the deaths could have been avoided with proper precaution, say representatives from the N.C. Wildlife Commission.

Chris Huebner, a hunting-safety coordinator with the commission, entreats all hunters to wear a full body-harness when using tree-stands. “Always use a rope to raise and lower a bow, an unloaded gun or other equipment, once you are safely positioned in the tree-stand,” Huebner says. “Always know how the tree-stand works and practice using it at low heights before you go hunting.” And for heaven’s sake, make sure you check a stand’s belts, chains and attachment cords before you clamber up.

Some of Huebner’s other advice falls into the “well, duh …” category, but evidently people get a little loopy when they’re hunting. “Never climb with a firearm or bow. Don’t select a decaying, leaning or slippery-bark tree for your tree-stand. We recommend not using homemade tree-stands, especially anything of wood-and-nail construction.” Put down that hammer, deer-slayer.

Walk a mile in their shoes: Few regional outdoor-adventure groups have as robust an activity schedule as the Carolina Mountain Club. This month alone, the venerable trail club will hold four all-day hikes, including a Dec. 10 excursion to Cataloochee, a Dec. 17 ramble up Green Knob (via the whimsically named Snooks Nose), and a Christmas Day loop of Bent Creek led by Xpress contributor Danny Bernstein and her husband Lenny. Twenty dollars buys you a yearly individual membership; a family membership is $30. That’s a pretty substantial stocking-stuffer. Visit www.carolinamtnclub.org for membership and event information.

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