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Minn. DNR Urges Deer Stand Safety After Deaths

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Deer hunting got rather dangerous in Minnesota when the season started over the weekend, but firearms weren’t the main cause.

Gene Berthiaume, 72, of St. Paul died from a heart attack in Beltrami County. Arthur Knafla of Maple Grove was trying to start a propane heater, when his clothes caught fire and he fell from his tree stand in St. Louis County. Also, a 51-year-old Sartell man died in Cass County when he fell from his stand and his gun discharged.

“Tree stands cause more injuries during the deer season than any firearms do,” said Capt. Greg Salo with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Salo said he has seen broken bones and worse. Some hunters have died from falling from their stands.

“There’s no limit to how high you can go with a deer stand now, and that’s a big consideration for us, and that’s what makes the harness even more important,” he said.

So, just like all the orange gear hunters wear, a safety harness is an extra piece of important equipment for hunters using deer stands.

The Department of Natural Resources has other safety tips, too. Check your stand year after year, to be sure it’s secured well to the tree. Also, be cautious when climbing to the top, since rain, snow and ice can make your steps slippery.

The recommended height for a deer stand is less than 10 feet above ground.

“People think you need to be 12, 15, 18 feet above the ground to die from falling. People die two or three feet if they fall just right,” said Salo.

Salo also recommends using a rope to pull up your gun. He says it’s too dangerous to carry it up the tree with you to your stand.

Click here for more outdoor safety tips from HCMC.

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