Local hunter encourages safety for others after recent hunting accident

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Monday marks 11 weeks since Bowling Green businessman and avid hunter, David Stumbo, fell while climbing to a deer stand.

He sat down with 13 News to share his story about that day and offer his advice to other hunters, hoping his experience can help at least one person think about keeping safety a top priority.

"I've deer hunted all my life, bird hunted, I've handled guns my whole life, and bow hunted a lot in my life," says Stumbo.

But one bow hunting trip in September has forever changed the way he hunts.

"I'm done hunting in the air. I'm going to hunt on the ground, I'm going to hunt from a ground blind," he says.

Stumbo says he had just purchased some land near Mammoth Cave National Park and decided to go deer hunting with friends on the day of the accident.

"This one tree already had the stand in it and it had one limb that you had to grab hold of to get into the stand and I tested the limb, thought it was strong and as I grabbed hold of the limb and pulled myself up, it broke," he says.

Stumbo says he fell 25 feet to the ground.

He says, "I knew that I was in trouble. I really didn't even have time to react because I was looking up at the time. I never even had time to look down to see where I was falling to or anything."

He landed on his feet and says the impact jarred his whole body.

Stumbo says, "I immediately knew I was hurt and hurt bad."

"I shattered my left leg, broke my right heel, and broke three vertebra in my back," he explains.

Stumbo says he was able to call a friend who was hunting nearby for help. Friends were able to get him onto a truck bed and drive him out of the woods and to the main road, where an ambulance was ready to take him to Greenview Regional Hospital.

"It took us two and a half hours from when the accident happened to when I arrived at the hospital," says Stumbo, who stayed awake the whole time.

He says he had surgery on his back the day he got to Greenview, and a few days later had surgery on his leg and his foot.

"And then I had an infection, where they had to go back in and open everything up in my leg and flush it out, and so I spent another week in the hospital, and so I was in the hospital four weeks," he adds.

Now, he's focused on recovery.

"I've been doing rehab," he says.

He's been told it would take a year to completely heal, but he's slowly going back to work and trying to stay as active as possible.

"I hope to be walking pretty freely by the end of January," he says.

He hasn't had to go through this alone. From friends visiting him at the hospital, to his church family praying with him, to his family at home, he says support has been huge.

"My wife has been my sole caregiver, she's been there for me when nobody else was there," he says, smiling.

And just as focused as he is on his own recovery, he wants something good to come out of this experience and offers advice to other hunters.

"To take the precautions to be safe is what everybody should do," he says.

He adds, "I wasn't as careful and didn't plan out like I should have, and it's just not worth it, and what my body has had to go through, and what it's going to be like the rest of my life, as arthritis hits and things like that, I mean, it's going to be something that's going to be with me the rest of my life."

"I love hunting. Nobody loves hunting more than I do, but you need to be safe when you're doing it, and with today's technology, you can do that," says Stumbo.

He says no matter how experienced you may be as a hunter, you should always put safety before the hunt.

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