Bow hunters preparing for the upcoming season should check all their gear to make sure it is in proper working order, especially tree stands and safety harnesses, before heading to the timber.
"Falls associated with tree stand use are the most common hunting incidents during the bow season," Litchfield said. "Hunters should always wear a safety harness and use caution when climbing."
Megan Wisecup, supervisor for the DNR's recreational safety program, said there are a number of tips hunters can use to prevent injury when using a tree stand.
"Make sure to select a tree that fits the tree stand recommended limits and follow the three point rule of tree stand safety always have three points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving," she said.
"That could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving. And remember the elements the rain, frost, ice or snow can cause steps to become slippery so check the security of the step before placing your weight on it."
Other safety tips include using a haul line to pull gear and the unloaded firearm or bow to the stand and hunters should never climb with anything in their hands or on their back. When exiting the stand, use the haul line to lower the gear on the opposite side of the tree.
"Get familiar with the safety harness. Read the instructions for it and for the tree stand itself so you know how to use it properly and know its limitations," Wisecup said.
Falls from tree stands are required to be reported to the DNR if a person seeks medical attention for an injury received while entering, exiting or sitting in a stand.
"The basic rules of tree stand safety don't apply to just bow hunters, but to firearm hunters using an elevated device or stand," she said. "We want everyone to be safe out there. The goal at the end of every hunt is to arrive home safely."
Bowhunter Education Class
The bow hunter program is designed to teach bowhunters safe and ethical hunting techniques and to install responsible attitudes toward people, wildlife and the environment. Participants learn more about tree stand safety and urban bow hunting.
A field day portion of the online bowhunter class will be held on Oct. 7, in Vinton. The class has room for 30 participants. To sign up for the course, go towww.iowadnr.gov/training