Doctors expect to treat hunters for tree stand falls during deer - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Doctors expect to treat hunters for tree stand falls during deer season

(Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS) (Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS)

About 500,000 Missourians deer hunt each year.

Many hunters use elevated tree stands to provide a clearer view during hunting.

However, the leading cause of injury to hunters has nothing to do with the firearms they carry, but rather from the tree stands they climb.

Doctor Jacob Quick is a trauma surgeon for the University of Missouri Health Care System, and also an avid hunter.

He says the number of tree stand falls will likely rise.

"As a trauma surgeon, I’m also part of a team that treats about 40 patients each year with hunting-related injuries, and most are caused by falls from tree stands," Quick said. "We’ve recently treated a few hunters for serious injuries sustained from these types of falls, and we anticipate that number rising, especially during the popular firearms season."

Tree stands are placed at least 15 feet off the ground.

However, Quick says a fall from even 10 feet can be devastating.

"This can cause serious injuries to the head, neck and spine that may result in paralysis or even death,” Quick said.

According to Quick, tree stand falls are typically caused by improper safety procedures, such as attempting to climb up or down a ladder one-handed while carrying gear in the other.

However, use of a proper safety harness would prevent most fall injuries.

Here are some safety tips to follow:

  • Practice with your stand at ground level, gradually going higher. Several Conservation Department shooting ranges and outdoor education centers have practice poles for free public use.
  • Use proper procedures for securing the stand to a tree.
  • Read the warnings and instructions from the stand manufacturer before each season.
  • Use only stands meeting the standards of the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) rated for your weight and all your equipment you wear or have with you on the stand.
  • Always use a safety harness that meets TMA standards and is rated for your weight and any gear you wear.
  • Attach your safety harness to the tree from when you leave the ground, throughout the hunt and when you descend to the ground.
  • Always position yourself so that you step down onto your tree stand to test its stability.
  • Never climb into a tree with a loaded gun or arrow ready to shoot.
  • Always use a haul line to raise or lower your gear, including unloaded firearms, bows and arrows.

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