By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
One second he was hunting. The next, he was falling. Faster than the blink of an eye, the snap of a cable, the greedy pull of gravity, a sickening drop and, by the grace of God, the arrest of a safety harness made for a noteworthy end to an otherwise uneventful morning for Fletcher Moorman of Carrolton.
He and his father were hunting separate locations on their family’s land in Yalobusha County Dec. 29 when it happened.
“My dad had just texted me he was heading my way because we had to get out of the woods early,” Moorman, a Baptist minister, husband of 15 years and father of children ages 13 and 9, said. “I stood up on my platform looking the way my dad would be coming, facing away from tree, watching for any deer he might push my way. I felt the stand break and the next thing I know, I’m hanging from my harness. My harness has those sewn-in loops in the tether that slow you down when it drops. I hung there for just a few minutes thinking, ‘Is this for real?’”
Moorman’s harness is a Hunter Safety System Treestalker, a modern safety harness that connects to the legs, waist and shoulders then attaches to the tree by way of a strong tether. Hunters who use platform- and ladder-style tree stands are encouraged to wear these harnesses religiously but, much like seatbelt-use campaigns for car and truck passengers, the effort has met with mixed success over the years.
“I haven’t used it like I should have over the years,” Moorman said. “It’s a miracle that I haven’t been hurt, but the Lord was looking out for me that day. I had it on and I won’t ever leave home without it again.”
Thankful for his blessed escape, the first thing Moorman did after regaining his composure was make a cell phone video of his predicament and post it on Facebook.
“If you don’t own a Hunter Safety System or something like that,” he says in the video, “from just one brother to another, I advise you to get one.”
The video has since been viewed by countless hunters and their friends nationwide, something Moorman said he didn’t expect but he’s humbled to have had happen.
“I’ve had a lot of groups ask me to come speak at their men’s wild game supper and tell about it,” he said, “and I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to do that, because it could have been bad.”