JOHNSON COUNTY — Hunters could learn a thing or two watching Roger Mildenstein, own of Fin & Feather in Iowa City, put up a tree stand, mistakes and all.
“Several things were wrong with that tree, one was it’s crooked, and I would not put a stand up in that tree,” said Mildenstein, after running into a few challenges with one tree stand installation for a few minutes. He and other experienced hunters were using those mistakes as an opportunity to teach the basics of safety on Sunday morning at the Hawkeye Wildlife Area Archery Range, west of Swisher.
DNR conservation officer Terry Nims said a lot of archery and bowhunting safety starts with common sense.
“Any time you’re out in the field, you can use one strap on your tree stand, but two straps is better,” Nims explained.
He said tying in with a safety harness or lifeline can prevent injuries, something he sees every year.
“Anywhere between 5 to 10 a year statewide,” Nims said, adding many falls and injuries go unreported. “I believe last year we had two fatalities from tree stand falls.”
Mildenstein said installing and climbing a tree stand makes you vulnerable to a fall, but there is one precaution you can take to minimize danger.
“You just need to have your buddies around. It’s treacherous to do it by yourself, and you’re always at risk,” Mildenstein told us.
Range officer David Giese hopes more hunters and archers will use this range to practice and prepare for the real deal later this year.
“This is their range. They can come use it when they want, sunrise to sunset,” Giese said. “We’ll come out here in the winter time, and there will be two feet of snow on the ground and there will be people out here shooting.”