With Missouri’s archery deer-hunting season underway and firearms season coming up, a prominent doctor is urging hunters to take safety precautions.
About half a million Missourians deer hunt each year. Many use elevated tree stands to provide an unobstructed view. Among the avid hunters is Dr. Jacob Quick, who also happens to be a surgeon at the University of Missouri Trauma Center in Columbia.
His facility sees about 40 patients a year for hunting related injuries, mostly due to falls from tree stands. He says the number is especially alarming. “These are patients that are injured enough to come to a trauma center” said Quick. These are patients that are seriously injured that require immediate operations that have the need for immediate hemorrhage control, people that are paralyzed, bad brain injuries and all that kind of thing. So it’s a big deal to have that many people injured in central Missouri just from falling out of a tree stand.”
Outside of the Columbia facility, the only other level one trauma center equipped to handle such injuries outside of the urban centers of St. Louis and Kansas City is in Springfield. Quick says most deer hunting injuries are the result of falls from tree stands, not from fire-arms as is commonly thought. He says the other major misconception is that full body harnesses are not necessary while in a stand.
Quick notes the wounds from tree stand falls can be quite severe. “We’ve had quite a few that required emergency surgery, essentially as soon as they got here. We took them directly to the operating room for bleeding control, where these patients were essentially bleeding to death in their chest and their abdomen, just from falls.”
Quick says the elements present in a remote location in the woods can contribute to the severity of injuries. “There’s a lot of things on the way down (during tree stand falls) when you’re talking about being in the woods, broken sticks, your own equipment, those sorts of things that can also cause penetrating injuries, which we’ve seen to be devastating and causing near death experiences for these patients.”
He says a lot of injuries can be avoided by using common sense measures, such as wearing a full body harness while perched in a tree stand. Quick says a large majority of deer hunters use tree stands, possibly as many as 75 percent.
Mots deer hunting in Missouri occurs during the short fire arm season, which takes place between November 12 and 22. Joe Jerek with the Missouri Conservation Department says the busiest days are the first two, which are a Saturday and Sunday.