Crossbow Safety, Learn From Our Painful Lesson

Crossbow Safety Injured Thumb
Crossbow Safety, Learn From Our Painful Lesson
Glen Wunderlich
Glen Wunderlich

Lansing, Michigan – -(  When I read a recent Michigan DNR release about 10 tips for hunters’ safety, it all seemed so redundant.

It’s all out there and has been for so long, that it seems to get overlooked in the myriad preparations for deer hunting. One instant of carelessness can be downright dangerous, however, and a recent personal example has brought safety to the forefront of my mind.

A heavy-antlered, adult buck had recently emerged from a mere trail camera star to a wild-eyed, sex starved brute just days before.

In a moment, my uneventful afternoon stand had been turned into a three-buck circus right before my eyes, with the bull of the woods hot on the heels of a sprinting doe. Two lesser bucks stood motionless for minutes within range – one nosing my decoy at 25 yards, while the big bruiser had his way with his mate of the day well beyond my capabilities.

When I finished shivering and shaking, and waited for the area to clear in darkness, I slipped back to camp to invite a friend to get in on the action for an upcoming hunt.

The hunting companion, who shall remain nameless to protect his self-esteem, arrived November 2nd 2014 to partake in an archery hunt during the rut. The wind was right for both of us to take positions into the wind in hopes of getting a chance at the full-figured buck.

With plenty of light, my friend radioed that he spotted a six-point yearling. The news was encouraging. Before long, he called again to notify me that a doe with two fawns were within view. Good news again, but we had plans for antler soup.

In front of me were four whitetails – two fawns with their mothers. Two of them actually nudged my Montana Decoys. One antlerless creature remained after dark, not allowing me to depart without alarming her. But, that all ended when she became so curious that she just about poked her nose into my chair blind. One loud snort from me and she bolted into the darkness.

Crossbow Safety
Crossbow Safety

Back at camp we two hunters compared notes and my friend went outdoors to discharge his crossbow like he had done so many times before. This time, the results were terrifying!

He calmly returned with his left thumb hanging by skin at the top knuckle. He obviously ignored the warning printed on the crossbow to keep your thumb out of the way of the string. I grabbed a roll of gauze kept nearby but it was fruitless and tossed it aside. He found a clean towel, pressed it over the wound, and we hastily left for Memorial Hospital in Owosso.

The professional emergency staff went into action with a tetanus shot and X-rays. An experienced doctor set the broken bone and laced the thumb back into position. A few more shots in the legs, another X-ray, and we were on our way home hours later.

The following day, the hapless hunter kept an appointment with a local surgeon, who opened up the damaged thumb again, and added a metal reinforcing piece and repaired a torn ligament and placed a new cast on the hand.

My appendage-challenged friend came by last week and began talking about how he might be able to hunt on opening day of firearms deer season. He won’t be toting his usual heavy-recoiling shotgun, or any long gun for that matter. The only sensible choice came to a “hand” gun and that’s what it’ll be.

Hunters’ safety is everyone’s responsibility. Go over the rules and post them for all to see, because nobody should ever be “that guy.”

About Glen Wunderlich

Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press ( and blog site at  Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).

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Jamie Clemons

How could we design a hand guard to prevent this sort of injury?


I showed this article to my husband who has been without the last half of his thumb since he was a kid. He will gladly take your friend’s thumb and will take better care of it.