MISSOURI -- The return of firearms deer hunting season this weekend means hunters will be out in full force, but an increasing number of them will end up in the ER without even firing a shot.
Across Missouri, Mercy Trauma Services sees injuries -- including paralysis -- resulting in tree stand falls each hunting season. In Springfield, 12 patients were treated for falls from tree stands during the hunting season last year. That was up from four in 2011 and six in 2010.
“Without a doubt, we’ll see some this year,” said Dr. Joe Olivi with Mercy Springfield. “In 2012, each of those patients had spinal fractures and some even had spinal cord injuries. Tree stands are usually higher than one story, so depending on the type of fall, it could lead to paralysis or even death.”
The National Bowhunter Education Foundation urges hunters to read manufacturers’ instructions and practice setting up their stands before heading out for the season. Poor installation, bad stand structure and excessive weight can cause hunters to fall.
Dr. Olivi suggests hunters always use a safety harness when climbing in a tree; carry a cell phone in case you need to call for help; and follow general rules of safe gun handling. “It may also be beneficial to take along a first aid kit and remember to just be careful and take your time,” he explained.
Firearms deer season runs Nov. 16-26, 2013. Visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Tree Stand Safety here: http://bit.ly/MDCTreeStand.