He’s a 22 year old stud muffin, invincible, with testosterone raging and a nothing-bad-can-happen-to-me attitude. He has the world by the tail with only good stuff lying ahead.
One year later, he’s a 23 year old paraplegic, destined to spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair.
What happened to cause such a life-altering change? He made a critical error in judgment while climbing into his deer stand. He hadn’t bothered to check the condition of the wooden steps he’d nailed to the tree a couple of years ago. He’d scooted up these steps to reach his deer stand dozens of times without mishap. Did he use a safety harness? Nah…he didn’t need that.
This time, though, was different. He reached for a step not taking the time to see that it had rotted during the off-season, it pulled free and he hit the ground a dozen feet below with a thud, his lower back landing on a root that protruded from the ground. A vertebrae was shattered and long story short, he’d never walk again.
Dr. Bobby Dale, a life-long hunter, is also an emergency room physician who practices medicine in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. Visiting with Dr. Dale at a writer’s conference, we had occasion to talk about what is more likely to injure hunters while hunting. Dale noted that contrary to what many believe, it’s not the older and more fragile hunter who is more apt to be injured; it’s the strong, virile, younger guy.
“From what I’ve observed from patients I have seen in the ER where I practice, it’s the younger one more prone to suffer serious injuries while hunting. This is particularly true concerning falls from elevated deer stands. In fact,” Dale said, “I recently read a report that revealed the majority of bow hunters who fall from tree stands are in their 20s and 30s. Also, about 10% of these injuries are alcohol-related.”
“While it is true that guys in their 50s and 60s and older have bones that are more easily broken, I don’t see nearly as many injuries from falling from a stand from this older group. It’s just a fact that the older guy is more cautious,” he added.
Dr. Dale noted that a fall, even one from just a few feet, can result in serious injury. Obviously, the further you fall, the more serious injuries become, he said.
“I’ve seen victims who fell from stands come to the ER with everything from closed head injuries, bleeding on the brain, spinal fractures with paralysis, broken arms, legs and ribs, collapsed lungs, ruptured spleens in addition to profuse external bleeding,” Dale said.
While mishaps using home-made deer stands are more likely to result in serious injuries, manufactured stands can also cause falls if not used properly.
“Manufactured stands have to meet a safety code and the vast majority of these stands are safe when properly used. However, they still have to be secured to the tree in the proper manner to be completely safe. Climbing stands are quite safe but when care is not taken in using them, they can result in twisting or slipping when not correctly secured to the tree. The result can be disastrous,” he added.
I’ve deer hunted from elevated stands for years fortunately without incident and I want to keep it that way. Therefore, I have developed a personal rule-of-thumb in my deer hunting.
The older I git, the closer to the ground I sit.
BLACK BAYOU – Bass have been fair around the trees and brush. No report on crappie or bream. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707 for the latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water is at the pool stage with no current. Crappie fishing has slowed down with fair catches at best being made around tops in the river on shiners and jigs. Bass are fair fishing the run-outs with spinnerbaits, and topwater lures early and crankbaits and soft plastics later. For the latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing is improving as the fish are moving to the channel edges preparing to move deep as water temperatures drop. Bass has been fair to good fishing fairly shallow early mornings on topwater lures with fishing the points with crankbaits and soft plastics working best later in the day. The bream have about shut it down but catfish can still be caught fishing cold worm off the banks. For the latest information, call Anderson Sports Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Crappie fishing has improved with some nice fish being caught around brush in the deeper holes on shiners or jigs. Bass has been best skipping jigs under the docks with Culprit plastic worms in the Plum Crazy pattern picking up fish to 4-5 pounds. No report on bream or stripers. For the latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – The bass has about stopped schooling but some nice-sized fish are being caught fishing the points with Carolina-rigged soft plastics while some are also being caught fished jigging spoons off the bottom in deeper water. Bandit crankbaits are producing some around the docks and piers. Crappie is fair around deep brush on shiners or jigs. No report on bream or catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498, or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Crappie fishing has improved on shiners or jigs. Catfishing has been good on a variety of baits while the bass is fair. No report on bream. For the latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is the lowest it has been in years. Fishing has been slightly improved for crappie while catfishing is fair to good with bass fishing slow to fair. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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