The safe and happy hunter


Hunting season is finally here! I’ve already been out a couple of evenings since Oct. 1, and I know many more hunters in the area and all across the state have been right out there with me, waiting for a great big buck or whatever game they’re after to come into range.

I had to bundle up a little bit more than I’m used to for the first week of archery season, but if long underwear and an extra pair of socks is what it takes to be out in the tree stand and not freeze, I’m going to wear them and not quibble.

And that’s the attitude hunters should have when it comes to anything safety related. From something as simple as taking steps to stay warm when you’re out in the woods to taking the time to do a thorough inspection of your gear before you leave your vehicle and start your hunt, safety should be the top priority.

I’ve been thinking about safety a little more this season, as it looks like I will be hunting alone part of the time. I’m not worried — this is my fifth hunting season, and while I’m far from a seasoned veteran, I know the ropes. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to throw caution to the wind.

As a solitary hunter, I intend to be downright paranoid about checking and double-checking equipment, taking along emergency supplies, and doing everything I can to ensure a safe hunt. Hunting with a partner is like having a safety net — if something goes wrong or you get into trouble in the woods, help isn’t far away. When hunting alone, in case of an emergency you might be waiting a while until help can get to you — and you might not be in great shape while you wait.

Accidents happen. It’s a fact of life. And something as simple as making sure your cell phone is charged and taking along a basic kit of emergency supplies can be the difference between life and death if you need help in the woods.

There are commonsense precautions to take as well. Checking the weather forecast is a no-brainer — nobody wants to get caught in a storm in the woods. The way the cold weather has moved in this fall, hiking back to your vehicle in wet camo would be more than unpleasant — it could risk your health.

Leaving written directions to or the GPS coordinates of where you plan to hunt with a friend and family member is a good idea as well. And if you’re taking any medications, keeping a list of them in your wallet with your hunting licenses could really help emergency personnel if you end up needing medical attention.

That last suggestion comes directly from a professional. My mother, an EMT, had an interesting emergency call last fall during rifle season. The ambulance went out to a deer camp where a hunter had woken disoriented, and his buddies were concerned because he couldn’t tell them what day it was. He had his medications with him, but his friends didn’t know what the pills were for.

That incident ended with a chauffeured trip to the hospital.

There’s an old saying about an ounce of prevention that I’m taking to heart this hunting season. There are countless safety tips and tricks available to hunters, and it’s probably not necessary to utilize all of them. But the big ones — an emergency pack, a charged cell phone, and someone at home who knows where you are and how to get to you — those should never be blown off.

Bottom line, there is never too much you can do to ensure your safety.


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