Outdoors: Time to check equipment
With the archery deer hunting season set to kick off locally Sept. 21 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, now’s the time to check your bows, bow strings, arrows and tree stands if you use one.
According to Rick Weaknecht, of Weaknecht Archery in Kutztown, bowhunters shouldn’t wait until the last minute to bring their bows in for new strings that may be frayed or stretched from use or to have arrows made. Arrows in particular, he says, takes time in that they require cutting shafts to customer lengths, gluing feathers or fletching on, and for some, fletching specific color combinations. His words are similar to what happens the day before the trout opener when anglers wait to the last minute to buy their licenses and get new line put on their reels.
Commercial tree stands and steps need a check for frayed or worm straps before installing them. And wooden homemade stands that have been in place over the seasons may be in need of new wood that could be rotted, weakened from the weather or chewed by squirrels. Those are the most dangerous.
I should also point out that the archery bear season also gets underway on Sept. 21 and runs until Nov. 19 in the same WMUs.
You may be curious to know what other bowhunters have bought for the upcoming season. A recent survey done by Southwick Associates during the period of May-June 2019, shows that 60 percent of archers bought new arrows; broadheads accounted for 29.9 percent; bows, 19.5 percent (survey doesn’t show if these were conventional or crossbows); releases and tabs, 19 percent; archery targets, 18.8 percent; bow cases, 17.4 percent; quivers, 15.3 percent; stabilizers, 13.9 percent; and strings and accessories, 11.0 percent.
They also surveyed tree stands with hang-ons accounting for the majority at 34.1 percent; ladder stands, 19.2 percent; tripod stands at 9.9; ladders/steps, 9.9 percent; harnesses and accessories 9.9 percent.
Insofar as tree stands are concerned, September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness (TSSA) Month, which is the month most hunters head back into the woods to hang stands for the upcoming seasons. The program is intended to inform and educate hunters in tree stand safety in an effort to reduce tree stand accidents that occur every hunting season. And those falls can sometimes lead to serious injuries or even death. In fact, TSSA says a 2018 study showed there were an estimated 3,001 tree stand falls requiring a hospital ER visit.
The folks at TSSA strongly remind hunters to always remove and inspect your equipment; buckle on a full body harness; and connect to the tree before you leave the ground.
Before all the new harnesses and stands came on the market, I used a heavy all steel Screaming Eagle hang-on tree stand that secured to the tree with a steel chain. I would always worry upon stepping onto it after hooking up the chain as the instructions said to jump on it a couple times to set the U-shaped support teeth to the tree. On two occasions it slipped, but I did wear a nylon rope harness (the best at the time) similar to what linemen use to climb utility poles. It was a hefty and strongly built stand and the company would show a picture of it holding up a VW Beetle in its magazine ads. Needless to say, I sold it.
So bowhunters, TSSA says to heed their advice and be extra careful when hanging/installing a stand this season.