Deer stand injuries can be completely avoided with proper preparation and being aware of common mistakes. We not only discuss those mistakes but also the statistics and myths around deer hunters. Be safe out there.
Falling out of a deer stand or tree stand is an all too common accident. Estimates are around 10% of hunters are injured annually and out of that 10 percent, 75% are from fixed tree stands. When a hunter falls out of a stand that is taller than 15 feet, an individual can reach a speed of 30 MPH. Of course this depends on the weight and height of the hunter. Many times, these injuries are underreported due to embarrassment and hubris. I personally treat about one deer hunting injury per year. Most injuries result from either falling out of a stand or a substantial laceration from a broad head or hunting knife used when dressing the deer.
A study out of Wisconsin tracked deer stand injuries and revealed 80 % of all fall victims required operative interventions. About 10 % resulted in permanent and or neurological deficits or death. The majority where from poorly assembled stands, errors in climbing in or out of the stand and lack of harness.
A retrospective study out of Rochester , N.Y. Medical Center from 2003-2011 reveled the following: 54 tree stand injuries, 96% occurred in men, average age 47.9, average height of the fall 18 feet, no deaths out of the 54. Reported cause of injury of the 54: 1. Tree stand construction failure. 2. Loss of balance. 3. Falling asleep. 4. Safety harness broke. 5. Lightheadedness. Important to note – None of the 54 had alcohol which is often a common stereotype.
Most common injuries were spinal fractures, with the cervical spine being the most common. Vertebral burst fractures, compression fractures and dislocations. 22% had head injuries and 5 of the 54 had facial lacerations. 7 hunters had loss of consciousness. There were 10 cases with a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), 25% had a laceration to their liver, spleen or kidney. The average height of fall was approximately 18 feet.