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WMJ. 2008 Feb;107(1):20-4.

Wisconsin firearm deer hunting season: injuries at a level I trauma center, 1999-2004.

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Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Division of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA.



Hunting continues to be a passion and common pastime for many US citizens, especially in rural areas. Unfortunately, with the large volume of hunters entering the woods each season, hunting injuries continue to be common.


Review the experience of a level I trauma center during each of Wisconsin's 9-day deer firearm hunting seasons over a 6-year period and identify potential prevention elements based on the findings.


We retrospectively reviewed all hunting-related injury patient data entered into the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic's (UWHC) level I trauma registry from 1999 to 2004, for each 9-day Wisconsin deer hunting firearm season. We compared injury occurrence with Wisconsin DNR statewide hunting-related firearm injury incidence data over the same time frame. The study was conducted at a level I university tertiary referral trauma center. The study included any patient admitted to the UWHC during the study period with a hunting-related injury entered into the trauma registry.


Primary outcomes recorded included patient demographics, mechanism of injury, types of injuries, comorbidities, injury severity scores, and mortality.


Twenty-four patients were treated for hunting-related injuries during the study period. The majority of hunters were male (95%), with an average age of 44.5 years. Treestand injuries accounted for 16 of the 24 injuries treated; the rest of the injuries were firearm-related. Most of the injuries (18) occurred during the first 3 days of the hunting season, with the remaining 6 injuries taking place around the Thanksgiving holiday period. Injury severity scores (ISS) ranged from 1 to 50. Orthopedic concerns accounted for 79% of the injuries, while general surgical was 50%, and neurosurgical was 12.5%. Two fatalities occurred due to complications from injuries caused by falling from a treestand.


Falls from a tree-stand and firearm shootings represent 2 mechanisms for severe hunting-related injuries during the 9-day deer firearm hunting season in Wisconsin. Formal treestand safety instruction should be emphasized during hunting education classes and all hunters need to heed safe hunting recommendations pertaining to firearms and treestands, and be particularly cautious during the first few days of the hunting season.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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