Deer hunting is a popular activity in much of the United States. In West Virginia, over 350,000 people each year actively hunt deer. Although injuries and deaths caused by shooting-related incidents have declined, hunting injuries caused by falls from deer stands have not. We present a retrospective study from January 1994 through December 1999 to determine the number of and trauma resulting from deer stand–related incidents in West Virginia.
Data have been compiled from individual hospital and state trauma registries, patient charts, and Department of Natural Resources logs.
A total of 90 individuals have been identified with injuries related to deer stand falls over the 6-year period. There were seven deaths. Most patients had multiple injuries that included extremity fracture (47%), spine fracture (36%), head injury (20%), pelvic fracture (10%), rib/clavicle fracture (11%), solid organ injury (6%), pneumothorax (3%), and other minor injuries (21%). The majority of accidents were associated with home-built as opposed to commercial stands, and most hunters were not using safety straps. Blood alcohol was elevated in only 7% of injured victims.
Injuries from deer stand falls are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in this state. This is the largest series of hunting-related deer stand injuries reported in the current literature. Other states have successfully implemented prevention programs that have resulted in a reduction of these types of injuries. Our data emphasize the need to establish and promote preventative education programs for hunters using tree stands.