Think safety first when deer hunting

Monday, November 5, 2018

By: Femi Cole

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As this year’s gun deer hunters head for the woods, a BayCare Clinic emergency medicine physician urges everyone to make safety their top priority.


While gun safety should always be a priority, tree stand safety should be of equal or greater importance. That’s because tree stand mishaps account for most of the annual hunting accidents and fatalities, says Dr. Scott Westenberg of BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians.


Tree stand accidents replaced gun mishaps as the No. 1 cause of hunting-related injuries and deaths in the U.S., according to recent data.


Dr. Scott Westenberg of BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians is an avid hunter.


“Don’t let the excitement of bagging that trophy buck cloud your judgement when it comes to safety,” Westenberg says. “Out in the woods, safety measures can be the difference between a memorable hunt or a tragic experience.”


Are you listening? Protect your hearing this hunting season


Westenberg, an avid hunter, offers the following tips:

  • Follow the four rules of gun safety
    • Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
    • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
    • Be sure of your target and beyond.
    • Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
  • Test your tree stand before you hunt
    • Ensure its stability. Inspect your deer stand and ensure it’s in good shape, especially if it remains outdoors all year long.
    • Use a harness. One bad fall can end your hunting career.
    • Maintain three points of contact to your steps or ladder when climbing into or descending from your tree stand.
  • Visit your physician for a checkup before hunting.
  • Know what to do when someone bags a deer.
    • Wait for help. Don’t drag it out alone.
  • Wear layered clothing so you can regulate your body temperature.
  • Know your hunting area and how to find your vehicle or camp.
  • Carry a cell phone, radio or communication device.
  • Skip the alcohol until you are finished hunting for the day.

“Follow these basic tips to increase the likelihood that you’ll have a great hunting experience, not one that leads you to the emergency department, or worse,” Westenberg says.


Dr. Scott Westenberg sees patients at Aurora BayCare Medical Center and Aurora Health Center in Green Bay, Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh and Aurora Medical Center in Manitowoc County in Two Rivers.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.