A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Couch to Deer Camp: Deer stand safety for hunters

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Department of Natural Resources data shows that falls from deer stands are the leading cause of injuries during the gun deer season.

You’re blaze orange from head to toe. You’ve scoped out a great location for deer and you’re ready to head up to your deer stand.

What are you missing? Probably a good quality deer stand harness, Dr. Laurel Rudolph would guess.

Dr. Rudolph is a sports medicine physician at Marshfield Clinic Health System and an avid hunter. After seeing a friend become paralyzed after a fall from a deer stand and treating others with broken bones because of falls she’s adamant that using a harness is essential for deer stand safety.

“I never let my family members go up without a full-body harness,” she said. “You wear it like a backpack and secure it to the tree.”

Falls are leading cause of deer hunting injuries

A big problem with waiting and waiting in a deer stand is fatigue, especially if you’ve consumed any alcohol. If you fall asleep without a harness on, you can easily fall.

“A friend of mine has a stand 35 feet high,” Dr. Rudolph said. “I kid him that he can see three counties up there, but will he see a deer walking below his stand?” She’s only half joking, because height can change perception and create unusual angles.

Department of Natural Resources data shows that falls from deer stands are the leading cause of injuries during the gun deer season. Surveys show that, although two-thirds of Wisconsin gun deer hunters who hunt from tree stands own a harness, less than a third actually use them. Don’t be one of them.

Take a firm stand. Wear your deer stand harness.

This information is part of Couch to Deer Camp, a series of fitness and health tips created by Marshfield Clinic Health System to help you get ready for the hunt.

You can do this.

Couch to deer camp provides health information and is not intended to be medical advice. Talk with your doctor prior to beginning a program of regular physical activity.


Dr. Rudolph is a sports medicine physician providing care for athletes of all ages. Sports medicine focuses on treatment, rehab and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports medicine services are available at Marshfield Clinic locations in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Marshfield, Merrill, Rice Lake, Stevens Point, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids.

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