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Deer Stand Falls Are On the Rise—Area Doctors Caution Hunters

Hunter tree stand
Deer stand in the trees: Photo Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Firearm deer season opens Saturday, and many hunters will be spending their time high up in tree stands.  KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann reviews safety tips from experts hoping to keep hunters from landing in the ER.

Many hunters enjoy the serenity of the woods early in the morning, perched high in the trees.  The average tree stand sits between 20 and 30 feet high, or more than a story.  Falls from that height can cause significant injury or even death. Brad Haller is a spokesperson with Mercy in Springfield, and says falls from tree stands have more than doubled over the last few years in southwest Missouri.

“Last year we had 12 falls from tree stands that we had treated with trauma services in Springfield.  They were all spinal fractures with some of them even being spinal cord injuries which will see long-term treatment.  Depending on where someone lands they can have extremity fractures, rib fractures, pelvic fractures and what not,” Haller says.

Reasons for the increase are unclear, says Haller, but improper installation and harness failures are often to blame.  He adds that in some instances alcohol has been a factor, and says that alcohol and tree stands do not mix. Haller says Hunters need to be familiar with their equipment and take several safety precautions before going out, including a first aid kit.

“It’s really important before going out this weekend to go over your manuals and instructions; know what your equipment set up is like. Practice a little bit.  Have a plan for if it fails.  Consider taking a partner with you and take a two-way radio if your cell phone signal does not work. Scout your location and know where to go if technology fails,” says Haller.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends that hunters use gear that meets with Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) standards.  Firearm deer season runs from November 16th through the 26th. 

For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.