As they say, hindsight is 20-20. Wade King's hindsight tells him he should have followed safety precautions when he was deer hunting. Now he's warning fellow hunters so they don't follow in his footsteps.

Wade was perched in his deer stand bow hunting about 4:30 Monday afternoon when the stand's strap broke. Not wearing a safety harness, he fell about 16 feet to the ground. The resulting injuries are a broken back and 2 chipped teeth. The severity of the damage remains unknown at this point, Wade only knows there will be a back brace involved.

Things could have been much worse.  Wade was hunting with his girlfriend, Natalie Gould, who was able to call 911.  He says thanks to Brookfield Rescue and Bridgewater Ambulance he was rushed to the emergency room instead of laying in the woods waiting for someone to find him.

I wiggled my toes and started to cry when I knew I wasn't paralyzed.

Wade isn't looking for sympathy, he just wants to warn other hunters, "To the manly man who has kids at home and don't need no harness, wear the damn thing. I wish I did." There's no knowledge like learning from experience. We wish Wade a speedy recovery and a tip of the hat for sharing a story that may keep others safe. Here's more deer stand safety tips from the DEC.

**Hunt deer, not trees. Find the deer first, then find a tree within easy shooting range that will put you in a good location relative to the wind.

**Use a sturdy, portable stand. Permanent stands nailed into trees are dumb and deadly. They give away your secret hunting spots and are difficult to move when deer change their trails.  The worst is that they rot. Weakened wooden steps and stands kill and cripple hunters.

**Know the rules. On state lands, it is illegal to place nails or other hardware into trees, or to build permanent structures, such as tree stands, platforms and blinds.

**Don't go too high. Remember that the higher you go, the smaller the vital zone on a deer becomes. And the likelihood of a serious injury escalates if you fall from high up. Usually, 15 to 20 feet is high enough.

**Use a safety belt for climbing. Most falls happen when going up and down the tree, and in and out of the stand. Never try to carry guns or bows up and down trees. Always use a rope to raise and lower bows and guns -- Unloaded.

**As soon as you get in a tree stand -- strap in. A body harness is better than a plain safety belt, but a belt is a whole lot better than nothing. If you just have a safety belt, attach it high - around your chest - to avoid injury from the belt if you fall.

Wade King
Wade King


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