Ed Cross is the Director of Communications for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
He says tree stand safety is important, and hunters need to make sure their stand is in tip-top condition before using it. “If you’re going to be 15 or 20 feet in the air, the last thing you want is a tree stand that isn’t installed properly,” Cross said. “Make sure bolts aren’t rusty and falling apart – make sure straps are secured and aren’t falling apart. When you go out to the field, and you load up for a hunt, when you get done at the end of the day – make sure you unload it. Make sure you check it thoroughly before you put it away.” Cross also says that fall arrest system harness make a huge difference. “Nearly 80% of tree stand incidents happen because a hunter is not using a restraint system.” Hunters should treat guns as if they are always loaded. “When you’re out hunting be sure about the target you are aiming at,” Cross added. “Make sure there are no other hunters, there’s no homes, no buildings, there’s no vehicles, and there’s no other animals beyond the target.” During the first weekend of firearm deer season November 17th – 19th, Illinois hunters harvested a preliminary total of 51,356 deer – 3,000 less than last year. Nearly 700 deer (697) were harvested last weekend in Knox County, 328 in Warren County, 1,270 in Fulton County, an 518 in Mercer County. Randolph County leads the state with just over 1,600 deer harvested.