Michael Perry, a Hilton Head fishing captain, was enjoying a day of hunting Monday near his hometown of Paris, Tennessee, when he fell from a tree stand.

The 44-year-old father of two, known as “Papa Bear,” was impaled by a tree and rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for multiple surgeries. He remained there as of Wednesday afternoon.

Not long after Perry was admitted, his fishing buddies on Hilton Head Island heard from Perry’s wife, Sarah, about the accident.

Christiaan Pollitzer, Perry’s friend of 20 years, said it took less than two minutes on the phone with Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks owner Andrew Carmines for the group to decide they’d hold a fundraiser for Perry when he returned home to the island.

Tuesday morning, after Sarah left her two daughters with their grandparents and flew to Tennessee to see her husband, the fishing captains on Hilton Head sprung into action — they picked a date, and Carmines decided he’d close Hudson’s doors for the night, shuck a ton of oysters and raise money for Perry and his family.

He has a long road ahead.

Perry’s doctors told his family he is likely to need several surgeries, Pollitzer said. When he fell from the tree stand, the tree below damaged internal organs.

Perry is a lifelong hunter. The incident is not being investigated as suspicious. Falls from tree stands are considered the most common accident in deer hunting, according to American Hunter magazine, and in most states, injuries from falls vastly outnumber gun-related injuries.

Pollitzer said Perry moved to Hilton Head more than 20 years ago and became first mate on Capt. Randy Osterstock’s boat in Harbour Town, “The Echo.” He ran the charter before establishing his own business, “Papa Bear Charters.”

Papa Bear, Pollitzer said, is “a big guy with a giant heart.”

“Hence the outpouring of love from the island,” he said. “The island community is tight, but the fishing community is even stronger.”TN


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