Deer hunter falls, hangs from tree for six hours

Sunday, October 21, 2001

HIRAM, Mo. -- A Poplar Bluff native is thankful to be alive after a mistake while deer hunting left him hanging upside down for more than six hours.

Hugh Davidson, 53, of St. Louis is in good condition at Three Rivers Healthcare-North Campus following a freak accident at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

He was hunting from a tree stand on his land in Wayne County, near the Bollinger County line on Highway 34 East. However, he had forgotten to hook a safety strap.

When his bow tapped the arms of the stand that went around the tree, part of the stand fell. Davidson fell backwards, his feet fastened in rubber straps.

"That was the only thing holding me," he said. "I swung back and forth trying to grab tree limbs. I got a hold of one tree limb and pulled and pulled. It finally broke. When I ran out of stuff to get a-hold of, I started hollering."

Much later, someone answered.

Rescuers found Davidson at about 8:30 p.m. It took another hour to get him down from where he had been hanging 30 feet off the ground.

"His face was beet red," said Wayne County Deputy Johnny Brannum. "He was more coherent than I thought he would be. He could answer questions."

While he might have been able to talk, Davidson couldn't see.

"My head was swelled like a basketball," he said. "My eyes were swollen shut."

Davidson was flown by helicopter to a hospital for treatment.

"The doctor handling my physical therapy was in the emergency room when I came in," Davidson said. "He didn't expect me to make it. I got a lot to be thankful for."

Davidson said he didn't know when he'll be discharged from the hospital, but that he'll need more physical therapy to deal with leg and foot problems resulting from the accident.

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