Tree Stand Tragedy

How many of you out there have done it? All of you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s late and you’ve got to rush like a madman to climb into your stand after work for an evening hunt. With no time to spare, you quickly pull your bow up the tree and forget all about the safety harness. Besides, it will take too much time and the extra movement will probably spook that heavy-racked super buck you’ve been waiting on all season long. Sound familiar? Pictured: Nathan Johnson
In reality, those extra few seconds can be the difference between another day in the stand or the last hunt of your life. Just ask Missouri bow hunter Shane Plonkett about how important a safety harness or vest can be for both yourself and your love ones. Sadly, Plonkett lost his best friend and coworker during a tragic treestand accident and now this hunter is on a mission to change the way we look at hunting high above the ground.
It all started when Plonkett’s longtime hunting buddy Nathan Johnson checked their trail-camera and found a beautiful long-tined buck not far from his stand. Johnson was instantly fired-up and couldn’t wait to call his friend to tell him about the pictures. Both hunters decided to roll the dice and hit the woods hard on Saturday morning.
It had been a long work week and they both were dead tired, but there was no way either hunter was going to miss a chance to have a face to face encounter with the high-racked buck. Johnson split off from Plonkett before daylight and quickly headed toward his stand. Plonkett had no idea that this would be the last time he would ever speak or share time in the woods with his good friend. Tragically, Johnson dozed off while in the stand that morning and fell to his death.
For a long time, Plonkett didn’t even feel like getting out of bed in the morning and the daily commute to work made him miss his friend that much more. It was also difficult for him to look at his bow without completely breaking down and the thought of never hunting again began to cross his mind.
Finally, during a sleepless night, Plonkett realized that his friend would not want him to give up on something that had brought both of them so much joy. Plonkett decided to hunt the buck that had made Johnson so excited. It was extremely tough climbing back into his best friend’s stand, but Plonkett wanted to tag the buck in Johnson’s memory.
It’s safe to say that Johnson was smiling down on Plonkett when he finally arrowed the buck toward the end of season. Plonkett dedicated this special whitetail to Johnson and is giving the mount to his wife and children. By no means did this hunt erase the hurt, but it has helped Plonkett and Johnson’s family cope with their loss.
All of us on the BBZ would like to thank Shane for this selfless act and for working hard to spread the word about treestand safety. This season make sure you always wear a safety harness, because it only takes one fall to end it all. Travis Faulkner