Tree stands pose significant risk to hunters

By Tom Nordlie • Published: February 16th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Hunting is a dangerous activity.

One reason, obviously, is that hunting involves weapons, usually firearms.

But a more humble device may pose a bigger threat to hunters in some parts of the country.

It’s the tree stand.

According to a study published in the journal American Surgeon, tumbling off one of these elevated platforms was the most common cause of injury among hospitalized hunters in Ohio.

The stands provide a good view and minimize the chances of being seen or smelled by animals.

In the U-S, tree stands are popular in the East, Midwest and South, mainly for deer hunting.

The study dealt with one-hundred-thirty hunting accidents treated at two trauma centers during a ten-year period.

Exactly half the cases involved hunters injured by falls.

Almost all of those hunters fell from tree stands.

Some of the details are sobering… eighty percent of the victims needed surgery. Sixty percent suffered spinal fractures. Almost ten percent had permanent neurological problems.

And speaking of sober, alcohol was almost a nonissue, detected in less than three percent of the cases.

The researchers said environmental factors can promote accidents.

In Ohio, the hunting day begins thirty minutes before sunrise and ends at sunset. Some hunters may have been climbing trees in the dark.

But here’s the biggest reason for these incidents: The hunters didn’t use fall-prevention systems.

These systems include anchor straps that attach to the tree, a tether and a body harness for the hunter.

This equipment is widely available.

It’s true, fall prevention systems cost money, and they require time and effort.

But hunters should always keep an eye on making safety priority one.