Title

Tree Stands, Not Guns, are the Midwestern Hunter's Most Dangerous Weapon

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2010

Abstract

Although the prevailing stereotype is that most hunting injuries are gunshot wounds inflicted by intoxicated hunting buddies, our experience led us to hypothesize that falls comprise a significant proportion of hunting related injuries. Trauma databases of two Level I trauma centers in central Ohio were queried for all hunting related injuries during a 10-year period. One hundred and thirty patients were identified (90% male, mean age 41.0 years, range 17-76). Fifty per cent of injuries resulted from falls, whereas gunshot wounds accounted for 29 per cent. Most hunters were hunting deer and 92 per cent of falls were from tree stands. Alcohol was involved in only 2.3 per cent, and drugs of abuse in 4.6 per cent. Of gunshots, 58 per cent were self-inflicted, and 42 per cent were shot by another hunter. Tree stand falls were highly morbid, with 59 per cent of fall victims suffering spinal fractures, 47 per cent lower extremity fractures, 18 per cent upper extremity fractures, and 18 per cent closed head injuries. Surgery was required for 81 per cent of fall-related injuries, and 8.2 per cent of fall victims had permanent neurological deficits. In contrast to prevailing beliefs, in our geographic area tree-stand falls are the most common mechanism of hunting related injury requiring admission to a Level 1 trauma center.