Deer stands can be dangerous, deadly for hunters
October 23, 2010
John Burke: Deer stands can be dangerous, deadly for hunters
This past week, a Pennsylvania man hunting in Maryland suffered fatal
injuries when he fell out of a tree stand. Paul Joseph Kemper Jr., 55, of
York, Pa., was bow hunting for deer when he fell from the stand that
reportedly was 25 feet from the ground.
According to the Outdoor Wire, Kemper was located by his hunting
companion, also of York. Kemper had an unattached safety harness near him
when he was discovered.
The accident is being investigated by the Maryland Natural Resources
Police, which has investigated 12 hunting accidents during the state's
fiscal year of 2010 and 14 for the year 2009.
Tree stand accidents totaled six and seven, respectively, in these
With the deer season moving into full swing (bow hunting is in, the
firearms season is only a few weeks away), tree stands are the choice of
But if the rules of safety are not heeded, their use can prove dangerous,
Tree Stand Hunting, in its report on Accidents in Tree Stands and Tree
Stand Safety, notes that a 1993 survey conducted by Deer and Deer Hunting
Magazine found that more than a third of tree stand hunters will at some
time fall from a stand, and that three percent will suffer crippling
Too, that of all the tree stand accidents, 75 to 80 percent occur while
climbing up or down, and that most hunters were not wearing a safety harness
The report also said that during the 2005-06 Georgia hunting season, 54
percent of all hunting accidents involved tree stands - 28 of them, with two
resulting in fatalities.
One hunter reportedly fell asleep in his stand and then fell 17 feet,
breaking his neck.
The other fatality involved a hunter who was descending his stand, lost
his grip, fell and died of internal injuries.
Relative to overall tree stand accidents, Tree Stand Hunting says the
main contributing factors were improper stand installation and careless use,
while the majority of falls were caused by structural failures of stands and
steps, especially those that are homebuilt and wooden, by screw-in type
steps that often broke or pulled out, and rotted wood on permanent stands,
which often broke or nails pulled out of them.
Another cause was tree limbs breaking off, especially in colder weather.
A friend of mine who lives in Augusta, a few years ago fell from a tree
stand that he made - the stand apparently giving away.
Badly injured with broken bones, he was unable to move. It was not until
the next day that he finally was located.
As Tree Stand Hunting further notes in its report, common injuries from
falls include broken bones, spinal cord injuries and brain damage.
It refers to a survey in Deer and Deer Hunting magazine on tree stand
injuries that found 39.4 percent of those injured reported cuts and bruises,
25.5 percent reported muscles and ligaments torn or strained, 12.2 percent
reported broken bones, and three percent reported permanent damage.
A team of researchers, conducting a study in West Virginia on the type of
injuries resulting from tree stand accidents over a six-year period from
1994-99 involving 90 hunters, found that 47 percent had fractures of legs or
arms, 36 percent had spinal fractures, 20 percent had head injuries and 21
percent had other minor injuries. Of the 90, seven died.
The report closes by saying that when using a tree stand, a fall
restraint system is the single most important piece of equipment.
"A full body harness is preferable. A rope or belt around the waist can
be almost as dangerous as fall to the ground. A belt around the waist can
cause a hunter to turn upside down should they fall, and the tightening of
the belt around their waist can cause internal injuries."
Something to think about if you plan to use a tree stand.
Return to Hunting Accident Index
Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material
whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe
that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes
a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section
107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted
material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must
obtain permission from the copyright owner.