The following article appeared in the Jackson, MS. Clarion Ledger Newspaper Monday, October 25, 2004.
Falls from tree stands kill 2 Mississippi Hunters
The Clarion Ledger, Jackson , MS (Monday, October 25, 2004 )
Men in separate accidents weren't wearing harnesses, officials say.
by Camille C. Spencer
Mississippi's first two hunting fatalities of the season occurred on the same day after men who weren't wearing safety harnesses fell from tree stands, officials said.
"It's the most dangerous piece of equipment a hunter can use," said Major Steve Adcock of the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. "We have more injuries with tree stands every year than anything else. If you climb a tree enough, you're going to fall, if you don't wear a harness."
Rudy Walker, 43, of Monticello died Thursday night after falling 16 feet from a tree while on hunting trip, Adcock said.
And Christopher Spradley, 22, of Jones County died Thursday afternoon in a separate accident at a hunting club in Jasper County, said Jasper County Coroner Keith Shelby. Spradley died of injuries sustained in the fall, Shelby said.
Spradley fell about 25 feet, Adcock said.
Walker, who had been hunting with a friend since 4 p.m. Thursday north of Monticello on Fair River, died of a cervical spine fracture, said Lawrence County Coroner Sidney Fortenberry.
Walker 's friend left the woods at about 6:45 p.m. and waited at a truck, Fortenberry said. At about 7:15 p.m., after Walker hadn't rejoined the fried, Fortenberry said, his friend went into the woods and found him at the bottom of the deer stand.
"It's a metal stand with no rails around it," Fortenberry said. "He fell out of it, landed on his head and neck, fracturing his cervical spine and severing his spinal cord. Death was instant."
Walker, an avid hunter, worked at a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Brookhaven, said Marion Watts, his sister-in-law. Walker was married and had two children, Watts said.
"He was a people person," she said. "He was an outdoorsman. He didn't suffer because of the impact of it, and that was the only comforting thing. He loved camping and fishing. He died doing what he loved."
Walker 's funeral is 10 a.m. today at Wilson Funeral Home in Monticello, with burial in Newhebron Cemetery in Newhebron.
Serviced for Spradley were held Sunday in Laurel , Shelby said.
Hunting Injuries in Mississippi
: was published in the Mississippi State Medical Journal November 2002 issue and authored by Thomas P. Forks, DO.
(Minor editing has been done to Dr. Forks' original article.)
It is clear that hunting injuries in Mississippi mirror those which occur nationwide. The vast majority of these injuries are easily preventable by following common sense hunting safety rules. As with firearm injuries, tree stand injuries are clearly preventable by following common sense rules. Most falls are due to poorly constructed or old wooden tree stands that come apart or become detached from the tree thereby causing the hunter to fall. All bolts and fasteners should be inspected and replaced if found to be defective prior to use on the stand. Old, broken or rotten lumber should be replaced. Tree stands should only be placed in healthy, mature trees with strong healthy limbs. Unfortunately, tree stand hunters seldom wear safety harnesses when hunting. These devices, when used properly (worn around the chest under both arms), can greatly decrease morbidity and mortality associated with falls. To minimize trauma, tree stands should be constructed no greater than 20 feet above ground level. Hunters should be cautioned to wear non-slip boots and apply a non-slip covering to the floor of their tree stands prior to use of the stands. Other safety tips include the removal of all logs, stones or other obstructions from around the vase of the tree. As with all hunters, tree stand hunters are advised to carry a compass, whistle, flashlight and cellular phone with them during their hunt. Hunting equipment, including bows and arrows and all firearms should never be carried up to the stand. This equipment should only be lifted or lowered to or from the stand with the use of a haul line. Hunters are also advised to hunt in-groups and should notify family members or friends of the approximate time they anticipate entering and leaving the hunting area. Bright orange hunting vests have been shown to greatly increase the hunter's visibility and should always be worn when in the field during firearm season. Hunters are also advised to layer their clothing to prevent cold injures. A backpack containing a flashlight, compass, prescription medications, first aid kit, cellular phone and high calorie foods should be taken into the field with the hunter. Bowhunters can drastically reduce injuries and death by following a few common sense rules. (1) Keep all arrows sheathed until ready for use.
(2) Never nock an arrow until ready to shoot.
(3) Never draw a bow with a nocked arrow until prey is sighted and you are ready to shoot.
(4) At all times, keep your bow and nocked arrow pointed in a safe direction.