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Deer Stand Injuries

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Deer stand injuries are potentially some of the more serious outdoor injuries that can occur. Sadly enough, 99% of these can be avoided. No deer stand injury should occur. Most of these injuries occur with poor judgment. Possible reasons for deer stand injuries: The deer stand is not well made, it is not secure, it is too high, or most commonly, the individual does not wear a safety harness. There are many types of safety harnesses that are used. The actual harness that attaches to the chest has two straps to it is the most efficient and safe. Survive Outdoors cannot recommend the one-strap harness that goes around the top of the chest, although this is better than no harness at all. We will outline the reasons for this in the paragraphs to follow.

When one falls out of a deer stand and has a harness on, one has to first think of the anatomy and what could become injured. The harness first should be worn around the chest, under both armpits. When you fall out of the stand, the harness will catch you and cause the least amount of injury to your body. I have seen hunters secure harnesses around the abdomen or belly. This is potentially dangerous. When falling, the sudden jolt can easily rupture a spleen or lacerate a liver with a rib fracture. Subsequently it is important to wear all harnesses up high and under your armpits at all times.

There is no need for any deer stand to be higher than 20 feet in a tree. Survive Outdoors has heard of and read articles of deer hunters who have put tree stands 40-50 feet in the air. They feel that they are better able to kill a deer because they are out of the deer's view. This is ludicrous and should not be done. The higher you go, the greater chance of dying if falling. If you don't die, you risk serious injury, which will decrease your chances of further hunting down the road.

In reviewing the literature, I will briefly outline an abstract by George Hertner, M.D. around this issue. He reviewed the type of injuries that resulted from falls out of tree stands. The case histories of 15 individuals who fell out of tree stands during two hunting seasons were reviewed. 14 of these individuals were male, age ranging from 16 to 72 years of age, with a mean age of 48. The most common month of injury was November, and the distance fallen averaged between 9-20 feet, with an average of 16.7 feet. Four of these individuals lost consciousness. Two had unknown loss of consciousness, and firearm discharge contributed to injuries in only one case. Alcohol was known to contribute in only one of the cases. 12 of these individuals were transported to the hospital. Types of injures: Three incurred head injuries, 8 spine injuries, 5 upper back and 5 upper extremities, 2 lower extremities and one abdominal injury. Hospitalizations ranged from one-half a day to 32 days. 5 of the patients required intensive care unit admission ranging from 1-18 days. There were no deaths. However there were 9 pre-hospital deaths.

Higher education is key. What is important is for hunters to carry this on to the next generation. Teach children the necessity and importance of wearing a harness, so they can carry this on for generations to come, to increase safety in future generations. Again, the SAM splint would be very useful to keep in the vehicle, or have a hunting partner have one in his pack, as it would be very useful in the event someone falls out of a tree stand. The hunting partner would then be able to splint the area.

What other important items should a hunter hunting in a deer stand have in his pack in the unlikely event that he falls out? In addition to the SAM splint above, a whistle is very important if you do not have another method of communication such as a walky-talky or radio system. Even with a communication system such as this, you cannot be totally secure that it will not break, or that the batteries won't run down when out in the wilderness. Subsequently, a whistle is of the utmost importance, especially when trying to alert your hunting partners or another individual, specifically rescue personnel in the event they come looking for you. A fire starter such as a metal match is also important to have with you, especially when hunting by yourself. If you are hunting with a partner, you have a greater chance of being found quickly. However if you are by yourself in a deer stand and you get injured, you may not have help for quite awhile. It will most likely be quite cold, so the ability to start a fire is very important. These are items that Survive Outdoors strongly recommends carrying with you.

Falling out of a deer stand is an unwanted experience. Your risk becomes much higher when having an opportunity at a whitetail of this size.

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