A Tracy City, Tenn., man died Saturday in an apparent fall from a tree stand while hunting near his home.
Family members found Michael “Moty” Nunley dead at the bottom of his tree stand about midday Saturday after he failed to come home, Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum said Monday. The fall happened near Clouse Hill Road, northwest of Tracy City.
Nunley was an avid hunter, said Shrum, who knew him personally. Nunley was the father of two children and worked for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the sheriff said.
“Everybody knew him as ‘Moty.’ He was from a good family,” Shrum said. “It was just a tragic accident.”
Shrum said it appeared the fall happened when Nunley was finished hunting for the day. Nunley had driven his four-wheeler to the tree stand, which was older and consisted of a ladder and platform, Shrum said.
“He had already lowered his weapon to the ground. It appears that he fell out of the stand trying to come down the stand,” the sheriff said.
Family members knew something was wrong when Nunley didn’t return from the woods to eat breakfast with his mother, his routine during hunting season, Shrum said.
“He lost his footing or his hold and landed on his back,” Shrum said. Nunley landed on his gun when he hit the ground, but it didn’t discharge.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials said there have been two tree stand accidents this season in the agency’s Region 3, which comprises most of the counties in Southeast Tennessee.
The other accident happened around Nov. 20 in Sequatchie County.
Cleveland, Tenn., resident Steve Wilson, 44, was found dead at the bottom of his tree stand on a remote tract of property on Lewis Chapel Mountain, said Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock. Wilson had been hunting on private property that was being leased for hunting and had “signed in” on a specific tract, which gave emergency crews a good idea where to look. Authorities said they believed Wilson to be an experienced hunter.
TWRA spokeswoman Mime Barnes said it’s important that hunters take all recommended precautions when using tree stands.
“The No. 1 thing hunters can do to be safe in tree stands is wear a safety harness,” Barnes said. “They should also follow the safety instructions for their particular brand of tree stand and let someone know their plans for their hunt.”
Hunting season is still open, so it’s important for hunters to remain vigilant about safety, Barnes said.
Deer hunting gun season — as well as archery and muzzle-loader seasons — are open now until Jan. 8, she said.