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.