Safety stressed after Michigan hunter dies in fall from stand

Matt Markey.
Matt Markey.

The archery season for deer in Michigan opened on Oct. 1, and a week later the state had a hunter fatality in the Lower Peninsula.

According to the sheriff’s department in Midland County, which is located between Bay City and Mount Pleasant, 52-year-old Edward Planer was hunting on state land there on Tuesday and when he did not return after dark, his family started searching for him.

His body was found that evening at the base of his tree stand, which stood about 30 feet high, and when emergency personnel responded, Planer was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy will determine the official cause of death.

About a year ago, another Michigan hunter died in a fall from a tree stand while hunting in Leelanau County, northwest of Traverse City.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued a bulletin on Wednesday, reminding hunters of the precautions necessary when using tree stands, which usually provide hunters with several advantages: a wider and less obstructed view, it keeps them out of the normal sight line of deer, and it likely reduces the amount of human scent at ground level.

"Tree stands are popular with many hunters who want an increased advantage, but improper use of them can result in injuries and death," said Sgt. Tom Wanless, the hunter education program supervisor for the MDNR. "We always stress safety when using a tree stand or raised platform."

Wanless urged hunters using tree stands to invest in safe and reliable equipment, to wear a safety harness that fits and has a quick-release that keeps you upright, and to be certain to utilize all of the safety straps and pins that are intended to secure the stand. He also stressed that hunters need to wear their safety harness when climbing, hunting, or descending from the stand.

Proper maintenance of your equipment is also essential, and tree stands should be attached to trees that are relatively straight, and free of dead overhanging limbs or rotting wood. Extra caution is needed when hunting from a stand attached to smooth-barked trees that become very slick when it rains. Use a haul rope to bring gear to and from the stand, and avoid using tree stands if icy conditions are present.

The first portion of Michigan’s split archery season for deer runs until Nov. 14, with the second segment running from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1.

In Ohio, the archery season came in on Sept. 28, and it runs through Feb. 2. The Ohio Division of Wildlife recommends that hunters familiarize themselves with all the aspects of tree stand safety by visiting the tree stand safety page on the ODNR Web site, or by taking a free online tree stand safety course offered by The Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA).

NO BUCKS REMINDER: Ohio’s new antlerless-only deer muzzleloader season runs Saturday and Sunday, and for that two-day period it is legal to hunt antlerless deer statewide with a muzzleloader or bow, but no bucks may be harvested, regardless of hunting method. The purpose of this muzzleloader hunt is to encourage more harvest of antlerless deer, thereby reducing deer numbers so that more resources will be available for the surviving herd later in the winter. By law, all deer hunters are required to wear a vest, coat, jacket or coveralls that are either solid hunter orange or camouflage hunter orange. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

HABITAT CENTER: The University of Findlay’s Rieck Center for Habitat Studies is hosting an open house at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20. There will be a “Birds of the Feeder” presentation by Hancock Park District naturalist Michelle Rumschlag, and a bird walk led by assistant professor of biology Jessica Wooten. Refreshments will also be part of the festivities at the center, which is located on Twp. Rd. 166 about three miles south of Findlay.

FISHING REPORT: The Ohio Division of Wildlife reports that yellow perch fishing in western Lake Erie has been fair following the storms of about a week ago. The best areas have been around West Sister Island, near the north end of the Toledo shipping channel, nine miles out from the Toledo water intake, west of Green and Rattlesnake islands, between Kelleys Island and Lakeside, northwest of Kelleys, and off of Kelleys Island Shoal. Walleye fishing has been slow in the western basin, but as temperatures drop the fishing is expected to improve as walleye migrate back to familiar areas. Trolling crankbaits behind planer boards has been an effective technique for fall walleye. The Coe-Vanna Charters based in Port Clinton report recent good catches of large walleye near the dumping grounds off Huron. Fish in the 7-10 pound range were being taken both trolling and drifting. The drifts were producing with ¾ ounce Weapons dressed with a No. 4 deep-cup Colorado blade and fished on a 15-count. The Division of Wildlife also reported good catches of big walleye off Huron, near the dumping grounds and southwest of the weather buoy.

Worm harnesses with in-line weights or crankbaits with snap weights have produced the best results, the report said. In the water about 70-feet deep off Geneva and Ashtabula, walleye anglers have had success trolling wire line with white, pink, blue, yellow, orange, green, and red stick baits.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.