A hunter in Hamilton County, Ill., was killed in a fall from a tree stand a few days before firearm season began and two in Union County, Ill., were injured from falls on the first day of firearm deer season.
Conrad Mills, 63, of Carmi, Ill., died from a fall on Oct. 10 while he was hunting at the Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife Area.
A local news report said that Mills was found after a three-hour search at the base of the stand with his stand still in the tree.
On opening day of the season, conservation police officers (CPOs) from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) handled two separate tree-stand incidents involving injuries on Nov. 19.
Early on Friday, Charles Johnson, 65, of Champaign was severely injured as he tried to set his stand on the tree.
CPO Phil Boston said that the incident occurred in Union County but was right inside the county line between Union and Williamson in a wilderness area that is part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.
Boston said Johnson had attached his safety harness to the tree but it was not strapped onto himself. As Johnson jumped on his stand to secure it to the tree, the ratchet strap on the stand gave way.
Johnson fell about 23 feet, hitting a limb on the way down. His son who was hunting about 400 yards away heard his father fall and called 911. Searchers found Johnson about two and a half hours later.
Johnson had multiple injuries. He was flown to a Cape Girardeau, Mo., hospital and later transferred to St. Louis University.
The other accident in Union County occurred at 7:45 a.m. off of Berryville Road near Jonesboro on Nov. 19. CPO Steve Vasicek, said the hunter, a white male in his 40s, from Rantoul, fell 22 feet from a tree stand. The injured hunter was airlifted to a hospital in Cape Girardeau.
Falls from tree stands are the number one cause of hunting accidents in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says that, in 2009, more than half – 14 of 22 – of the reported hunting accidents in the state involved tree stands. One of those was a fatality.
Jeff Hopkins, the safety education administrator for IDNR, has also provided information on the number of hunting accidents for most of the year.
Illinois categorizes hunting-related incidents into two types – A and B. Type A incidents are caused by a firearm or bow during actual hunting activities. Type B are accidents that occur that do not involve the discharge of a firearm or bow.
As of Dec. 20, Hopkins reported that there have been a total of 19 hunting accidents for 2010. Three of those were fatalities. One was Type A and two were Type B involving tree stands. There had been seven Type A and nine Type B non-fatal accidents. Hopkins said that there had also been three hunter fatalities reported due to heart attacks.
Of the 11 Type B accidents, Hopkins said that nine of those involved tree stands, one person was impaled by a knife and one tore knee muscles.
If that number holds, it will be the lowest number of hunting accidents in the state in many years. There were 22 accidents in 2009, a previous recent low. Thirty-eight was the high in 2008. There were 31 hunting accidents in both 2005 and 2006 and 30 in 2007.