While hunting is generally a safe sport, when accidents do occur — such as falling 20 feet from a tree stand — they can be severe
How safe is hunting, compared to other sports? According to statistics from the Consumer Products Safety Commission, a person is eight times more likely to be injured playing golf, six times more likely to be injured while fishing, and 30 times more likely to be injured playing baseball.
We can’t say we’re surprised. After all, there has been a lot of attention paid to hunting safety in the past several decades and all 50 states now require a hunter education class for first-timers.
The government agency that regulates hunting in the commonwealth, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), also makes the claim that “hunting is safe in comparison to other common sports.”
It is important to note DWR also says “each injury can cause extreme physical and emotional pain.” So, in other words, while hunting-related injuries may occur infrequently, when they do occur, they tend to be “extreme.”
As you might expect, getting shot by an errant bullet can indeed cause extreme injuries, but what you might not expect is that accidental shootings are actually not the most common cause of hunting injuries. That dubious distinction belongs instead to tree stands, according to hunter-ed.com.
Falling from a tree stand at a height of over 10 feet can be especially dangerous. Multiple broken bones, spine injuries, and head trauma can result from such a fall. So, if you plan on using a tree stand, we encourage you to use your full-body safety harness at all times while off the ground and to brush up on tree stand safety before heading out. Here are some resources:
Elevated Stand Safety by hunter-ed
Treestand Safety by Virginia DWR
Treestand Safety Tips (PDF) by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Tested Products List by the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association