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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 08 2010

Three injured in Otter Tail County during deer opener

Authorities in Otter Tail County, Minn., responded to three separate hunting accidents during the weekend deer opener, including two that involved injuries after hunting stands collapsed.

Around 3 p.m. Saturday, 24-year-old Melissa Johnson of Henning, Minn., was hunting with her boyfriend east of Perham, Minn., in a wooden deer stand on privately owned land, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office said.

The wooden floor of the deer stand suddenly collapsed, and Johnson fell about 5 feet to the ground, suffering injuries to her lower legs. Johnson was taken by ambulance to Perham Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office responded to a separate incident about 4:30 p.m. Saturday near Richville, Minn.

A 16-year-old male from Richville was resting the muzzle of a rifle on his boot when he heard a deer and grabbed the rifle, the sheriff’s office said. The rifle went off, and the male suffered a gunshot wound to his left foot.

He was taken to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, authorities said. The juvenile was not identified.

On Sunday about 10 a.m., an 81-year-old man suffered leg injuries after the platform of his deer stand collapsed, causing him to fall 12 to 15 feet, the sheriff’s office said.

Thomas Shulstad of Pelican Rapids was hunting alone but was able to use his cell phone to call for help, said Sgt. Barry Fitzgibbons.

“He was pretty lucky,” Fitzgibbons said.

Shulstad was taken to a Fargo hospital with a possible broken leg, the sheriff’s office said.

Fitzgibbons said the hunting stand Shulstad used appeared old and weathered.

“It’s important (hunters) make sure their stands or their hunting platforms are secure and made of solid material,” Fitzgibbons said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590