One thing I’ve found myself being passionate about as a hunter is tree stand safety. Maybe it’s because of how uneasy I am in a tree or the droves of horror stories I’ve heard. So, in November of 2011 I started a program I call Harnesses for Hunters. If you spend any time on a hunting forum, you’ve probably seen it actually happen on a small scale. Someone already has a premium style fall restraint and posts up that they bought a couple of new stands and is giving away the harnesses. So as I saw this go on and my website started to grow I figured why not do it on a larger scale? Thus Harnesses for Hunters was born!
The concept is simple take the unused generic harnesses that people aren’t using them and get them in the hands of people that don’t have one. To date I’ve shipped out about 80 harnesses and currently have a waiting list of about 40 people. I was lucky enough to have RediEdge come on board to help fund the program. As you can imagine shipping all those harnesses gets expensive fast! I also like to point out that while it is my program I’m not really doing that much except being the middle man. The only way the system works is through generous hunters shipping in the extra harnesses for me to then distribute to people that need them.
The one surprising thing though has been the amount of backlash from some people. I’m not out for pats on the back but there are quite a few people who said it was another program to give handouts to people who aren’t willing to work hard and use their money wisely. Well, I’m sure that’s true for some of the people that contact me, but is their lack of respect for themselves and their life any reason to deny them safety? I personally do not think so especially if there are a good number of harnesses just laying around unused. The vast majority of people that contact me asking for a harness are truly in need. Most are young or new hunters that are dealing with the cost of starting to hunt, or they are people who truly hunt to live. They are low income and the deer they kill feed them and their families as their exclusive source of protein for most of the year. I’ve actually had a few guys email me who are now permanently disabled from a tree stand accident and can’t afford a harness to wear when hunting but can’t afford not to hunt because they need the meat. I really enjoy getting to help those guys get back out there safely to provide for their families. Surprisingly enough I’ve also gotten emails from people saying they’ve never thought of wearing a harness. So I’ve found that it also helps make people aware that they need to wear a harness while providing an easy way for them to get one.
We’re about to hit the one year mark with Harnesses For Hunters and I’m actually surprised it’s lasted this long. I figured donations would slow or it just wouldn’t be feasible to fund on my own, but it seems every time I get close to that a hunt club will send in 10 or 12 harnesses to keep it going. So, if you’ve recently bought a tree stand and don’t need the harness consider sending it in to Harnesses for Hunters so I can get it in the hands of someone that needs one.
Will Jenkins is creator of TheWilltoHunt.com and Harnesses For Hunters. He’s an avid outdoorsman who enjoys sharing his experiences through his blog. He also writes for Bow Adventures e-Magazine and is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association.