Tree stand accidents increase even as hunter numbers decrease | Outdoors

Pennsylvania hunters are now more likely to be injured in a fall from a tree stand, than from a gunshot.

The average age of hunters who fall from tree stands is 45.

Hunters who fall 17 feet from a stand tend to survive. Hunters who fall 24 feet often die.

A Pennsylvania hunter who spends 50 years in the woods chasing deer with both bow and gun has a 1 in 20 chance of being injured in a fall from a tree stand at some time during his or her hunting career.

“That’s a staggering number that is really concerning to us,” said Andrew Hueser, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s administrator of the hunter-trapper education program.

August is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month. Last week, the Game Commission hosted a webinar to discuss the increasing trends in tree stand accidents, and the challenges the nation faces in trying to turn those statistics around.

At the start of the webinar, Hueser noted that all data regarding tree stand accidents likely is understated, because there really is no one tracking such accidents.

In most states – including Pennsylvania – tree stand accidents do not have to be reported to the governing wildlife agency.

“The only requirement is for accidents involving gunshots to be reported to us,” Hueser said.

But trauma centers across the nation keep diligent records of the patients that come through their doors, and so several states have done studies searching for victims who have “hunting,” “hunter” and/or “tree stand” listed on their patient report forms.

The information Hueser presented last week regarding tree stand accident statistics came from three such studies – one each from Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania study tracked 499 tree stand accidents that required trauma center visits from 1987-2006.

Hueser said there likely were many more accidents than that, because there…

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