White-Tailed Deer Tree Stand Safety

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Fall Prevention and Tree Stand Safety

Tree Stand Safety – Background

Hunting is obviously not one of our three lines of business, Sawyers, Sugarers, or Soapers, but it is part of what I refer to as Primal Woods Life, and it is About Us!  Indigenous peoples have not been particular about food, other than to ensurethat it was safe and nutritious, so they ate what the land had to offer; plants and animals.  In the midwest, White-Tailed Deer are a part of the fat of the land, and so they are a part of how we now sustain ourselves.  If you want to know more about White-tailed Deer and their conservation, check out the post I wrote, Top 7 Messages from The Land Ethic Reclaimed.  Hunting safely is about your Health, and it is about your Community, including your family and friends.  I argue that you cannot afford to get hurt, and your friends, family and community cannot afford for you to get hurt.

Tree Stand Safety at Primal Woods

Part and parcel of hunting white-tailed deer in this part of the country, are tree stands.  Now I religiously wear my safety harness in all ladder stands that I hunt from, regardless of height, which ranges from 12-15 feet.  I don’t care who you are, a fall from that height can hurt you, badly.  However, the safety harness only protects you once you are in the stand, not when climbing to, or descending from the stand.  We inherited a high “hang-on” stand from a tresspasser a few years ago, and this stand requires some additional safety considerations.  The seat of the stand is about 25 feet above the ground, and access is not via a typical ladder, but rather by use of a “climbing stick,” which is strapped to the tree.

tree stand safety fall prevention

Yup, that qualifies as a long drop

This tree stand requires 16 feet of climbing stick, and another 8 feet or so of “tree steps,” which are screwed into the tree.

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An example of a “tree step”

Tree Stand Safety – Fall Prevention

Now, let in be said, I’m not a big fan of heights.  And I am certainly not interested in falling from 20 or 25 feet while trying to access this tree stand, or worse yet, while climbing down from this tree stand in complete darkness and the dead of winter.  So, today I installed the Gorilla Gear Fall Defense G-Tac Fall Defense Line Tree Rope.  That’s a mouthful.  It is the larger rope on the right side of the climbing stick in the photo.  This piece of safety equipment uses a curious knot, called a “Prusik Knot,” which you can slip up or down as you climb or descend, but which pulls tight and arrests your fall if the knot is put under tension by the force of your fall.

tree stand safety Prusik knot

Prusik Knot in the Gorilla Gear Fall Defense Line

A carabiner attaches your safety harness to the Prusik knot when climbing or descending.  The green and white in the larger black rope is reflective.

The other rope in the picture, on the left, is what I call a haul rope.  Again, this is tied off up at the stand, but is equipped with carabiners at the ground-end to allow the hunter to leave his gear on the ground, attached to the haul rope; freeing his hands for climbing.  Then, once the hunter is safely situated in the stand, with safety harness attached, the gear is hauled up.  So both ropes, for fall prevention and for hauling gear up to the stand, are important from a safety perspective.

Ok, all for now.  I just wanted to get out a quick note, asking you to care for yourselves, and by association, your family and friends.  Take safety seriously.

All the best, and kind regards,

John

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Peach Trees – Actions against Peach Tree Borer

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A brief update on 3 of the fruit trees, the peaches, planted in June of 2016.  The details of all of the fruit and nut trees and shrubs can be found in the blog post “FRUIT & NUT TREE AND SHRUB WALK-AROUND JULY 2016.”  It’s safe to say I have provided all of the trees and shrubs planted with near-zero support.  So far we have only lost one peach, the “Flamin’ Fury,” and that was last year; it did not look good from the git go.

Yesterday I was prompted to check the remaining peaches for peach borer by my friend PJ.  ‘Shor ‘nuf, they appear to have recently been at the O’Henry Peach, and perhaps less recently, and less aggressively, at the  Loring Peach. Read more

I’m a List Guy

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Yes, I am even one of those that will put something I have already done on the list just so I can check it off!  So last night I woke in the wee hours, and could not get my mind to shut off.  And today is tapping day of course, and I have procrastinated, of course, so now I am up against it, of course.  What’s new, that is the story of my life more or less!  To shut my mind off, I make a list of what is on my mind; this took about an hour fifteen, then I was able to get back to sleep.  See the image of my list below, or find the pdf, with clickable links,  HERE.  Now I need to power through the list, wish me luck! Read more

Improving White-tailed Deer Utilization – Part 1

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The first White-tailed Deer of the season, image from Instagram

I killed two white-tailed deer this year, field dressed and hung each to age a bit, and then took them to my processor to be made into cuts (steaks, chops, roasts, etc.), ground venison, and sausages.  I also helped my friend Jacob to get his deer processed, and it was during an exchange between us and the processor, that the processor mentioned that the amount of meat typically returned to his customers, as a fraction of hanging weight, is approximately 35%.  When recently picking up the meat from a 1/2 steer (grass fed) that Geri and I had purchased, that processor told me that the yield for beef is typically 70% of hanging weight; of course they have been bred to maximize meat production.  Still, I found the 35% yield from white-tails to be too low, unacceptably low in fact; if I am going to take the life of an animal I want to use as much of the animal as is possible.  With that in mind, I established the following goal in the 2016 Year in Review post:

Homestead BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) 2017 – Butcher, process and preserve at least one deer, on the homestead; improve utilization from 35% of hanging weight to >=60%

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2017 January – Deep Winter, So What?

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Central Boiler firebox after a 12 hour burn; overnight low 8°F

The wheel barrow full is about a 12 hr load-out at current temperatures

I suppose we all have those periods of time, when we are losing sleep because we have so much going on in our lives that it seems incredibly daunting to even consider what needs to be done to satisfy all of the needs.  So it has been for me in recent days.  It helped to put together the 2016 Year in Review post, and the goals for 2017 that it documents.

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2016 Year in Review

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What a year.  It seemed so long, and at the same time it was over just as it was getting started.  I suppose that is the nature of making big moves, physically, as we moved to Michigan full-time, and in business, as we started up the Primal Woods trio of businesses.  We also undertook some much needed home renovation and improvement projects.  And I’m only scratching the surface.  Some things went better than others; most failed to meet my decidedly optimistic hopes.  Still, we are standing going into 2017, and I would say better in every regard for the experiences of 2016.

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Chicken Killing Cone Fabrication

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Step 1: Design laid out with Sharpie on 24 inch wide roll of aluminum flashing

A brief “how-to” on how I fabricated the killing cone.  There are certainly more ways, and probably better ways, but I was able to put this together in about an hour utilizing materials I had on-hand.  So, it has that going for it.  Design courtesy of Anne Arthur; thanks again Anne!

In the first step (1) I laid out the design on some aluminum flashing material I had left over from a project for two tree-nesting duck nest boxes that I completed a couple of years ago.  I also used some as heat shielding last year around the maple syrup evaporator.  This material is inexpensive and useful.  It is light-weight, so this cone is not has heavy-duty as it might be, but I suspect that it will last years in my relatively light-duty application. Read more

The Chicken Experiment, and Meat Chicken Processing Planning

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The ruler of the roost – click to enlarge

Our roosters are now about 21 weeks old, we have had them for 10 weeks as of this past Saturday, September 3rd.  They are way beyond prime butchering age, but that has not been the only point of the experiment.  We will probably keep them a little bit longer, maybe a week or two, before butchering, for a couple of reasons: 1) we enjoy having them around, and 2) to further acclimate the dogs to their presence.  In recent weeks the dogs have been great with chickens.  A few weeks ago we did lose one of the original five birds to a predator, and we are not exactly sure whether the culprit was one or both of the dogs, or some other critter.  The dogs were caught with some evidence, basically the breast of the bird, in the yard, so they have that working against them.  Still, things have gone well since, and we have been free ranging the chickens all day every day for the past two or three weeks.  The chickens move around the yard and the nearby woods, no problems, and plenty of forage for small the omnivores that they are.

The chicken tractor that Anne Arthur designed and built for us has worked very well, we have had no issues.  The chickens return to the coop reliably at sundown.  For use in free ranging chickens, where they are only in the coop overnight, for the most part, it could accommodate 20 or more.  The chickens have not done any noticeable damage to flower beds, and we have fenced them out of the vegetable garden.  If we were keeping them, they would definitely be turned loose in the garden after we shut it down for the year.

All things taken into consideration, the experiment has been a grand success.  We are planning to raise somewhere between one and two dozen meat birds next year.

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Fruit & Nut Tree and Shrub Walk-Around July 2016

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I did a walk-around the yard to record in pictures and words how the fruit and nut trees and shrubs are doing. It should be noted that since planting these trees and shrubs, and watering them in,  almost nothing has been done.  The Peaches and Pears were planted June 5/6, and the Plums on June 27, 2016.

O'Henry Peach Tree - Primal Woods

O’Henry Peach

The O’Henry Peach is doing quite well, this is the eastern most peach in the front yard, immediately adjacent to where I cut down the Star Magnolia. I did find what appeared to be either a Mason or Potters Wasp on the O’Henry. Slight damage from leaf eaters of some sort, and lots of new leaf growth; the plant looks healthy. <That is a Mullein, aka Velvet Plant, at the corner of the house (upper left of image), identified by our friend Kerry.>

 

 

 

 

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Lessons from A Beginner in the Field

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Or the woods, as the case may be.  It was an interesting sit between two big beech trees yesterday.  First, well before light still, I heard a branch come crashing down, I think it landed less than 10 feet behind me and a bit to my left. (Later investigation showed it to be less than 6 feet, the branch 4 inches in diameter.)  I instinctively moved, quickly, to the right around the trunk of the tree my back was against.  Scary.  Widow-maker.  Lesson Learned:  In your scouting for a location from which to hunt, check for widow-makers, be that a ground or tree stand location.  The chances of being hit are small, the consequences large.
I was sitting with my back against the tree to the left
Then, after first light, I heard what sounded like baseballs dropping through the canopy, dropping through the leaves and branches, and hitting the ground with heavy, distinctive thuds.  “That would hurt,” I said to myself!  I actually thought seriously about getting one of those hard hat shells that goes under a baseball cap, and Geri mentioned the same when I told her the story later.  I thought this was interesting because I did not hear any of it before sunrise, then, I heard maybe 10 or 20 fall over the course of 30 minutes or so, then nothing.  It had rained an inch the day before and into early hours, and an inch and a half the day before that.  There was a lot of water in the canopy, and under the trees it seemed like it was still raining as I sat.  At the time I believed that they might be black walnuts, that was all I could think of that made any sense, and I saw a relatively dark trunk (compared to the dominant sugar maples and beeches) maybe 20-25 yards in front of me; they are called black walnut trees for a reason.  I also looked this over during my “later investigation,” and sho’ nuf, there was a big black walnut tree and walnuts littering the forest floor.  Lesson Learned: Do not set your dumb ass under mature black walnut trees in the fall!

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