When hunting, I am often reminded of one of Gen. George Patton’s more famous quotes: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.” We’re not afield to kill or maim ourselves, instead to kill an animal. Yet every year unwitting sportsmen and women get themselves into pickles that can, and sometimes do, end up maiming or killing them.
While I have not yet been killed myself, I have been maimed more than once and terrified a lot. In no particular order, here are eight of my scariest moments in hunting.
- Hunting from on high has inherent risks that increase when hunters forsake no-brainers like using a safety. In 2010, the Ohio State University Medical Center published a 10-year study that showed “tree stands are the leading cause of hunting injuries in Ohio.” The study examined 130 hunting accident cases at two central Ohio hospitals. Half were because of falls, and 92 percent of those falls were from tree stands. Only 29 percent were injuries from gunshot wounds. Of those who fell, 59 percent suffered fractures, with 47 percent having either lower or upper extremity fractures of the ankles, legs, shoulders, arms and wrists. Another 18 percent had “closed-head injuries” -- in layman’s terms, brain damage. And 8.2 percent “suffered permanent neurological damage.” Drugs and alcohol were involved in 10 percent of the cases, and according to Dr. Charles Cook, the lead author of the study and a trauma surgeon at the Ohio State University Medical Center, “Most of the hunters were not wearing safety harnesses.”
I have never taken a bad fall, but it’s been close, and I do have friends who have broken bones. One TV cameraman I met years ago in camp was killed in a tree stand accident two years ago.