Editor’s Note: Parrish Elliott is an accomplished bowhunter, who is a member of the PSE and Mossy Oak Pro Staffs. During deer season he lives in trees, but his career as a bowhunter nearly came to a tragic end recently.
When I began to replay the accident in my mind, I realized I had only fallen about 3 feet before the safety harness stopped my fall. My waist was just about even with the platform of my tree stand. So, I only fell only about half of my body length before the harness stopped me. I got back into my stand without any problem. The only place that I felt any pressure when the harness caught me was in my upper groin. But the good news was that I wasn’t hurt at all. I was just a little sore for one day. I decided I’d take that irritation any day of the week, instead of hitting the ground from 24 feet above it.
Once I settled down, I pulled my bow up in the tree and got all my equipment arranged to continue my hunt. I took my cell phone out and texted my wife, “Don’t freak out. I'm okay, but I fell out of my tree stand.” Immediately, she texted me back and said, “Are you sure you’re okay?” My return text said, “Hunter Safety System (www.huntersafetysystem.com) saved my life.” The only thing my wife ever was concerned about when I went hunting was that one day I might fall out of a tree. On this day, it happened. As I looked down from my tree stand, I saw some big rocks below me where I would’ve hit if the safety harness hadn’t caught me. At that point, I realized without the fall-restraint device, I probably would be dead.
When I arrived home, I told one of my friends, “In 30 years of hunting, I've never stepped over the end of my platform like I did on this hunt. I've always been cautious to make sure my foot is on the platform before I’ve shifted my weight.” In the last 3 weeks, we've had two young men in the community where I live fall out of tree stands - a 20-year old and a 22-year old. They're both paralyzed right now.
I'm married, I have children, and I have a newborn baby. When I go hunting, I want to make sure I come back in one piece to see my family. So, I’d advise everyone: DON’T CLIMB INTO A TREE, CLIMB DOWN FROM A TREE OR SIT IN YOUR TREE STAND WITHOUT A SAFETY HARNESS!!!!!! I told a friend a couple of days ago, “I wouldn’t care if those safety harnesses cost $600. I’d still buy one. I’m convinced a safety harness is worth its weight in gold. I think Hunter Safety System and other manufacturers who make fall-restraint harnesses are saving many hunters’ lives. One thing for sure, I’ll never go up another tree without my safety harness on, and I encourage you to make that same promise to yourself and to your family.