Keeping 'Pace' with Treestand Safety

Keeping 'Pace' with Treestand Safety
Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S. angler Cliff Pace rests in his hospital bed after shattering both the tibia and the fibula in his left leg. (Courtesy Cliff Pace)

Classic champ vows return to deer stand despite horrific accident

Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S. angler Cliff Pace rests in his hospital bed after shattering both the tibia and the fibula in his left leg. (Courtesy Cliff Pace)

Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S. angler Cliff Pace rests in his hospital bed after shattering both the tibia and the fibula in his left leg. (Courtesy Cliff Pace)

Even though a treestand fall in January shattered his leg and kept him from competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series circuit this year, Cliff Pace isn't about to give up deer hunting.

However, he won't be back in a treestand this season without an extra piece of safety equipment.

"None whatsoever," said Pace, when asked if he had any second thoughts about climbing back in a tree stand. "If you had an accident on your way home from work today, would you think about not getting back in a car again? It's no different.


"Life is for living. That's the way I look at it. And I love deer hunting almost as much as I do tournament bass fishing."


Pace fell from the ladder of his deer stand on January 21 as he was climbing down on an unusually cold morning in southern Mississippi, near his hometown of Petal, a suburb of Hattiesburg. Pace was looking forward to defending his 2013 Bassmaster Classic championship the following month on Alabama's Lake Guntersville.


But that plan and his lower left leg, both the tibia and the fibula, were shattered in the fall. The unusually cold weather last winter had many ill effects. Count Cliff Pace among them.

"It was probably 16, 17 degrees that morning," Pace said. "It was the first time I'd ever put gloves on in a deer stand."

Pace estimates he was six feet down a 20-foot ladder when one of the gloves slipped off his hand, and he went crashing down. As a former commercial roofer, Pace has taken dozens of falls from equal or greater heights and emerged unscathed. He did manage to land on his feet this time, but his left foot came down in a hole.


"I could see the bottom of it," he said. "It was more like a cupped depression in the ground."

He stood up, tried to take a step and fell on his face "in a mud hole." It was cold, he was seriously injured, and he was now wet.

"A friend was hunting with me," Pace said. "I called him on my cell phone, and he went to get my four-wheeler. It was the most painful ordeal of my life. I thought I was going to pass out."


Pace dragged himself out of the mud and found a branch to bite.

"I bit down on it when I thought I was going to pass out, just so it would take my mind off the pain," he said. "I puked a couple of times. I was going into shock. I got real cold."

With help from his friend, Pace was able to get on his four-wheeler and drive himself out of the deer woods.


Click image to see photos of Keeping 'Pace' with Treestand Safety
Keeping 'Pace' with Treestand Safety


The recovery has been long and painful. Pace's doctors told him to expect a 12-month recovery period, though he might be slightly ahead of schedule. Pace is going to fish a Bassmaster Open tournament on October 2-4 at North Carolina's Lake Norman. Shortly after the tournament, Pace plans to climb back in a deer stand.

He has long worn a safety harness while in a stand. This season, however, he will have a Hunter Safety System Lifeline, which keeps hunters from free falling during the climb up and down.

Most every hunter feels confident and safe while making those climbs, but because of Pace's roofing experience, he probably felt safer than most. But he now has a painful memory that will override any of that confidence in the future.

According to Hunter Safety System, 86 percent of treestand falls occur during the climb up or down from a stand. Cliff Pace became a painful part of those statistics last January. He won't make the same mistake twice.

Pace's story should be a lesson for all of us as another deer season approaches.

Recommended for You

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere. Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

The Pennsylvania man's trophy fish was more than two pounds heavier than the previous record. Records

No Kidding: Angler Smashes Record for Lake Trout

Scott Bernarde - May 21, 2019

The Pennsylvania man's trophy fish was more than two pounds heavier than the previous record.

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Master the hang-and-hunt strategy to unravel the deer rut. Whitetail

Field Skills: Go Mobile to Tag Rutting Bucks

Tony Peterson - November 22, 2019

Master the hang-and-hunt strategy to unravel the deer rut.

Water attracts and directs whitetail movement, a key factor in mid-fall deer hunts. Whitetail

Pre-Rut Strategies: Bucks By the Water

Mark Kayser

Water attracts and directs whitetail movement, a key factor in mid-fall deer hunts.

Use your other eyes on the ground to make good decisions when you slip into the whitetail woods. Whitetail

3 Tips to Maximize Trail-Camera Intel

Tony Peterson - October 31, 2019

Use your other eyes on the ground to make good decisions when you slip into the whitetail...

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.