Michigan's firearm deer season opening day is sacred for our state. The prepared hunter has spent weeks, months, or every day since the close of the muzzle-loader season, getting everything ready for that first ray of sun on November 15.

Related: Michigan's Mandatory Hunting Violation Penalties Include Jail Time

Others, make a last-minute decision to join their friends, or end up having some unexpected time on their hands and decide to head into the woods with significantly less preparation. In either instance, a potentially fatal injury awaits both the well-prepped and the spontaneous hunter.

Michigan's Most Common Accident and Highest Emergency Room Instance


Whether it's a permanent stand, a portable, or a climbable, be sure to inspect every inch of it to ensure it can support you and your equipment. Glen Mayhew, president of the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation says there are, on average, 3,000 treestand-related accidents annually throughout the United States.

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Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital of Grand Rapids saw 20 cases that required treatment, 14 of which resulted in a hospital admission. Of those, 1 suffered a spinal cord injury, 11 suffered fractures of the vertebrae, and 1 pelvic fracture.


Speaking with Health Beat Corewell Health, Alistair Chapman, MD with Spectrum Health Medical Group, revealed that only 3% of those hunters injured use the provided protective equipment:

Tree stand falls cause significant injury...what’s unfortunate is that these are injuries that, in most cases, could be prevented...The infrequent use of safety harnesses is alarming

While arm and leg fractures are most common, spine injuries are a dangerous number two. Even minor spinal damage can mean either a life of pain, loss of movement, or both.


Before heading into your stand, review the following hunting safety tips from Corewell Health:

  1. Tree stand safety is as important as gun safety. Follow that same approach to the tree stand as you do your gun.
  2. Never use drugs, alcohol, or sedatives while hunting.
  3. Check permanent tree stands each time before use. Replace any worn or weak lumber before it breaks.
  4. Always wear a safety harness or belt while checking or using a stand.
  5. Read, understand, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a ready-made tree stand.
  6. Inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts before every single use.
  7. Know what you should do if you slip while using a safety device. Make a plan.
  8. Use a haul line to raise or lower equipment.
  9. Keep firearms unloaded and arrows in a covered quiver when going up or down.
  10. Choose a tree large enough to support your weight.
  11. Never hurry to set up your stand. Take your time to check it over.
  12. Make sure someone knows the location of your tree stand and when you will be there every time.
  13. Stay awake and alert. Always be aware of your position on the tree stand platform.
  14. When attaching your fall restraint device, use a short tether between you and the tree. This is to keep you in the stand if you slip or fall, not to catch you after you have fallen.
  15. Always carry a cell phone or other device to call for help if you need it. Keep it easily accessible.

Remember, as much as you're looking forward to getting out into the woods, there is someone who is looking forward to seeing you walk back through the door after the day is over. Wear your harness, wear your life jackets, and come home safe this season.

Michigan Deer Season: Car v Deer, Which Kill More in Your County?

Between hunters and car-deer collisions, which one is responsible for thinning the herd more in your Michigan county? Using the Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer license sales from all seasons and crash data from MichiganTrafficCrashFacts.org, let's take a county-by-county look as we count down to the one with the most deer-involved crashes and compare that to the amount killed by hunters.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

The Countdown to Michigan's Best Counties for Whitetail Deer

Which Michigan county harvested the most deer last season? We used DNR deer license sales to determine how many does and bucks were taken (all seasons) in each of Michigan's 83 counties. Let's count down to Michigan's #1 County for Whitetail Deer.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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