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Hunter recovering after falling from tree

A Morgan County man said he’s lucky to be alive after a hunting accident left him dangling from a tree by his neck. The man said he blames the safety harness he was using and wants to warn other hunters about the danger.

A regular bow hunter, Troy Smith said the best place to do it is from a perch high up in a tree. However, a couple of weeks ago sitting high above the forest floor almost killed him. “I don’t want my 9-year-old son to come out there with my wife and find me strangled in a tree,” said Smith.

Smith said it was like any other time he’s sat up in his tree stand over the past 35 years, but then he slid off the seat when he turned around with his bow to shoot a couple of doe. Smith dangled for a moment, then the situation turned almost deadly when his leg strap started coming undone. “The harness come up around my throat and started choking me out,” said Smith.

After pulling himself up, Smith fell about 18 feet -knocking him unconscious. Smith said he almost bit his tongue in half and damaged his esophagus. Smith said the harness didn’t work properly. He said the buckles didn’t have teeth, keeping the strap from slipping out of the buckle.

An outdoor specialist with the Department of Conservation said he can’t comment on a specific case, but he said tree stand accidents happen all too often. ” If the leg straps shouldn’t hold or they’re not put on properly then, yes, then the shoulder straps are the only things holding you there and it would lead to a strangulation-type situation,” said Brian Flowers with the Department of Conservation.

Smith said he talked to the manufacturer about the harness incident. He said they took down his information and told him they would be contacting him soon. Smith said all hunters using tree stands need to have a quality harness.

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