WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Babbs in the Woods: One year later — when Gerald Scott fell in the woods, no one heard him

barb-baird-out-standing-in-field2When Gerald Scott fell in the woods last November, did anyone hear him?

Nope. No one heard Gerald fall last year out of his tree stand, and his story still serves to illustrate why all of us who climb to sit up high should strap in, too. If you haven’t read the story in the archives, I’ve republished it here this week. It was one of my first blogs about a year ago. (And, by the way, Nov. 4 marks our one-year anniversary here at The WON.)

I checked with Gerald last week, who recommended his favorite type of harness system: “I’d have an adjustable chest harness with groin straps to insure that the harness couldn’t pull off over my head. Equally important, I’d want the strap that fastens to the strap placed around the tree to be mounted as high as possible on the harness. Some less expensive harness lack the groin straps and mount the connecting strap to the belt of the harness. Alert your readers to avoid this type of ‘safety harness’ like the plague, because, when used, the hunter often ends up hanging upside down. Most people cannot remain conscious for more than a few minutes in this position. Finally, place the tree strap high enough that it’s barely possible to sit down and be sure the chest and groin straps are tight.”

That sounds super uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as poor Gerald, who reminds me of Clark Gable, must have felt last year for quite a while after slamming into the ground below his stand. It also tells me that I need to tighten my Seat-O-The-Pants harness systems down a little more.

From the archives, Babbs in the Woods, Nov. 25, 2008

gerald scott tnOn Nov. 7, 2008, outdoor writer Gerald Scott pled guilty to two counts of falling: the first count – falling asleep in a tree stand without wearing a safety harness; the second count – falling 12 feet to the ground.

Ironically, in his self-syndicated weekly newspaper column, called “Scott Shots,” he recently had written about non-firearms’ related safety issues faced by deer hunters.

He explained, “A canceled appointment and an unexpected favorable wind direction switch provided a chance for a last-minute hunt on the evening of November 7. In my haste, I ignored the written equipment checklist I’d taught my readers to use and, instead, just grabbed my bow and a fanny pack and headed out.”

In fact, Gerald had not used a safety harness until this year, having hunted from trees without accident since 1965. In his haste, on this day he forgot to pack the harness and reckoned that the 12-foot stand ranked the shortest out of the 12 he had placed on the property. He said, “This line of reasoning demonstrates the danger of too much experience.”

Thirty minutes into the hunt, his eyelids started to droop and his chin bounced off his chest. This act made him recall why he had decided to wear safety gear this season. But, Gerald is a stubborn sort, and after eying a nearby ladder stand with a wraparound rail, he decided to tough it out and stay awake on his stand.

He said it gets hazy from here on in the story, until he hit the ground. He thinks he woke up just as he toppled sideways off the stand, and is sure he awoke upon impact.

This is gonna hurt

When he began to regain his senses, he panicked for a moment by the fear that he couldn’t see. After wiping the blood off his glasses, he discovered a pencil-thick stream of non-arterial blood flowing from a gash in his left cheek. He made a pressure bandage from a clean handkerchief and pressed it to the wound.

He said, “My body-part by body-part self-triage then discovered that, if I didn’t move, the pain level in the right side of my rib cage and lumbar spine ranked an easy 8 on the standard one to 10 pain scale. Movement sent the reading off the charts.” But, at least he could move. And, his cell phone lay only a short crawl away.

His wife, Amber, came to his rescue and took him to an ER nearby. Four hours later, he learned that he suffered fractured transverse protrusions on the numbers 1, 2, and 3 lumbar vertebrae, a fractured 10th rib and torn cartilage where the 11th and 12th ribs join the spine.

Gerald’s morals to the story

1. Don’t ever think that you’re too experienced to have an accident.

2. Be willing to alter your plans anytime circumstances even suggest it might be a good idea.

3. Have some means of calling for help.

4. Know enough first aid to be able to care for yourself until help arrives.

In addition to having been a professional outdoor writer since the early 1980s, Gerald Scott teaches “Intro to Writing” at State Fair Community College in Joplin, Mo., and owns a private investigative agency. You may write to him at gjsa at sbcglobal.net.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.


The Conversation

  • Tim Carr says: November 4, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I’ve known Gerald for some time now. He and I met during my employment at the local sheriff’s office. Specifically it was during the time I was a narcotics officer. No, Gerald wasn’t “one of those people” — he’s a retired “Fed”.

    Gerald lives all but 2 1/2 blocks from me. He and I tried our hands in 1994 for political careers; I feel I know the man to a degree.

    As a sports writer, (not soccer & football — field & stream are his areas of expertise), I was shocked to have learned about his hunting accident. I am not shocked that he allowed his story to be used to spread a hunting safety message. One year later, the message is still the same — be safe.

    I just left a message for Gerald to let him know he is once again a “falling star” on the net. He might get a kick out of that comment or he’ll be down to “egg” my house tonight. Time will tell.

    Knowing a second Sedalia resident who had a very similar experience last deer season and is still in recovery from his fall, I hope Babbs story will give each of you/us a gentle nudge to be safe this and every hunting season.

    Good work Babbs and Congratulations on your anniversary!

    Tim Carr
    Callis & Associates
    Sedalia, Missouri

  • Terri Lee Pocernich says: November 4, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I have a fall guy tree harness. It works on a system like a seat belt. You attatch it at the bottom of the tree and climb up. You leave it on until you reach the ground. This ensures that if you fall while climbing you do not hit the ground. It stops upon sudden movement. Love it.