For lots of people in the Midwest, it is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s time for the leaves to fall off of the trees, the sun to rise late and set early, the temperatures to drop below freezing, and for the watching of the beautiful animals of nature.
Through the scope of a hunting rifle, that is.
Yes, that’s right, it’s deer season. And if you have relatives anything like mine, you might just be getting some venison jerkey, smoked venison or venison chili for Christmas this year. But you also have every hunter’s wife, mother or sister who worries about their loved ones coming back safely. After all, Dick Cheney might just mistake you for a 10-point buck.
However, according to a new study from Charles Cook, a trauma surgeon at Ohio State’s Medical Center, fellow hunters with bad eyesight or terrible aim are the least of their worries. In fact, guns are barely an issue at all. What the hunters really have to look out for is their own stupidity.
In the Midwest, where trees reign and the forests are thick, tree stands are the most common way for hunters to wait out their prey. These tree stands are 10 to 30 feet tall, small and quite possibly poorly constructed (see example pictured above). Add to it the fact that hunters are out early in the morning, are usually tired, always cold and often aging, and you have a recipe for disaster.
The doctors involved in the study poured through the records of Level 1 trauma centers from Ohio’s hunting regions from the past 10 years. What they found was that 50 percent of the injuries were from falls, 92 percent of which were out of tree stands. And of those injuries, more than 80 percent required surgery.
By comparison, just 29 percent of the emergency room visitors came from gunshot wounds. And of those, only 42 percent were from another hunter. If you do the math, that works out to a mere 12 percent of trauma patients being injured by the Cheneys of the world.
So when you or your loved ones go out to hunt this year, and they plan on using a tree stand, ask them to use a harness. And always make sure they stay awake, alert and nimble. Anyone can fall out of those damned things.