As the leaves change and the temperature drops, those of us who hunt head off into the woods, duck blinds, or grasslands and sloughs in search of deer, waterfowl, pheasants, grouse, and other upland game. Most importantly, however, are the traditions kept and relived year after year, and the memories yet to be made. Whether you are a meat hunter or after that elusive trophy, there are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for hunting season.
The first thing to keep in mind, especially important this year as many of us have been less active due to COVID-19 limitations/restrictions, is to not be a member of the ‘over-use’ or ‘overdoing it’ group. Let us not forget what we have done for the 11 months prior to hunting season. If you are a sedentary person, or have seen your activity level drop this year in comparison to previous years, do not expect your body to respond well when you put on an extra 10-15 lbs. of gear and try to head through the woods, swamps, or grasslands for miles at a time. Even more insane is the thought of trying to drag that 150 lb. plus deer out of the woods all by yourself or lugging bags full of decoys through a muddy stubble field. We often see these muscle strains and sprains in physical therapy as a result of overuse, but each year many hunters also suffer more serious issues such as heart attacks while trying to overdo it. Be smart if you plan to do a fair amount of walking during the hunting season and seriously consider, at the very least, beginning a progressive walking routine before you venture out on opening day. Also, do not try to be a hero! If you happen to get that deer, ask for help and do not try to drag it out of the woods by yourself.
The second thing to consider is tree stand safety. A lot can change over the course of a year, so always inspect your tree stand prior to the hunting season to make sure that it is secure and functioning as it should. Also, inspect the tree itself prior to the leaves falling off to make sure that it is alive and healthy, and without a bunch of dead limbs. In addition, make sure that you have a safe way to get in and out of your stand, utilize the appropriate gear to keep you safe, and wear a harness. These are simple things that can save your life and prevent serious injury. Several thousand hunters fall from tree stands every year nationwide, often leading to severe injuries and ultimately physical therapy, and states where hunters primarily use tree stands typically have a fatality or two a year. Your chances of suffering a gunshot wound while hunting is roughly 90% lower than your chances of falling from a tree stand.
Here is a short list of some items to consider to help make your hunting experience safer and more enjoyable:
- Deer drag harness
- Deer cart or sled
- Tree stand harness
- Head lamp
- Proper nutrition and hydration
- Jerky and beer alone do not count
- Don’t hunt alone
- Hunt with family or friends
- Bring along those younger generations
These are just a few simple ideas to help make your 2020 hunting trips safer and more enjoyable.
Here is to a safe, memorable, and successful hunt for all! Good luck this fall!