Source: Sherman Publications

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Hunter hospitalized after fall

by David Fleet

October 19, 2011

On Oct., 12, about 11:30 a.m., the Atlas Township Fire Department, a Genesee County Sheriff's Department deputy and paramedic responded to an injured hunter near Schumann Drive.

Township Fire Chief Fred Forys said another hunter called 9-1-1 and led the team about a half-mile over rugged terrain to the location where a man in his 40s had fallen about 20 feet from a tree. The man was conscious at the time and said he had removed his safety harness to come down from the tree stand when he fell.

"Chances are he could have hit a few branches on the way down," added Forys.

Forys and GCSD Deputy Casey Seely loaded the man onto a Stokes basket and backboard. The man was transported to Genesys Regional Medical Center where the extent of his injuries were unknown.

"It was rough getting him back out to the road given the conditions. The department could have used an ATV to get back to remote areas of the township in this case."

Forys said with the number of hunters and outdoor activities residents participate in, reaching individuals with injures is sometimes difficult.

"An ATV could also be used on ice rescues or grass fires," he added.

Mary Dettloff, Michigan Department of Natural Resources representative, said each year hunters are injured while using a tree stand.

"The most common mistake hunters make is climbing or descending a tree with a loaded gun," said Dettloff. "The other big danger is not using a harness—keep them on when ever you're going up or down. Make sure too that if you fall, the harness does not cut off your breathing."

Dettloff cautioned hunters on climbing during colder weather.

"Steel rungs can attract frost, thus making slippery conditions. Also, hunters should tell someone when they are going to return. Even though hunters don't want to be disturbed, take a cell phone, keep it on silent—today's smartphones can be tracked with GPS as long as it's on."

Dettloff said that in 2008 Ottawa County Sheriff's Department deputies responded to the cell phone of a hunter who called for help. According to authorities he fell from the tree stand and landed in a remote swampy area.The hunter was able to activate his phone, rescue personnel were able to use the signal through a global positioning system to locate the man about five hours after he had fallen.