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Oh Deer: Surgeons Caution Hunters to Protect Their Feet and Ankles from Injury

While foot and ankle injuries are most often associated with hobbies like running, basketball and hiking, hunting can also be the cause of serious injuries to the area. It is important that hunters understand the risks associated with hunting and take the necessary precautions to prevent injury.

“Any responsible hunter will take an abundance of caution to ensure they are handling their firearm or bow safely, but taking steps to protect themselves from other injuries might not come to mind,” said Michael Ambroziak, DPM FACFAS, a Michigan-based foot and ankle surgeon. “Even the most experienced hunters can find themselves in a situation they aren’t prepared for, but with a few steps can better protect themselves from injury. ”

The most common injuries to the foot and ankle associated with hunting include sprained or fractured ankles, ruptured Achilles tendons and fractured heel bones. These injuries frequently stem from tripping on uneven terrain and falling from tree stands. The severity, treatment and recovery time vary from person to person, but a foot and ankle surgeon should always be consulted to ensure proper care.

“It’s the lack of attention to small details like watching where you’re walking, not wearing the proper gear and not using important safety equipment that leads to the most injuries,” said Dr. Ambroziak, “I see about a dozen cases a year of injuries from when people are outside hunting, and the best advice I can give to my patients is to not forget the basics and invest in safety.”

To stay safe, Dr. Ambroziak advises hunters to keep the following in mind:

  • Inform someone of where you will be and your expected return time, in case of injury.
  • Pack an extra pair of socks in case of wet conditions to avoid blisters and athlete’s foot.
  • Be mindful of the terrain while hiking in and out.
  • Use a safety harness to avoid unexpected falls from the tree stand.
  • As always, watch your step!

“I want people to enjoy their favorite hobbies, but they should better understand the risks and take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries,” said Dr. Ambroziak.