Beware of Outdoor Perils When Deer Hunting
Dr. John Woods 11.23.20
Being outdoors where we AO people love to be can alas be wrought with endless perils. This is particularly true of woodland hunting in pursuit of the wily whitetail or other game. Just taking a simple stroll off the logging road can bring a myriad of pitfalls if the hunter is not keenly aware of the potential perils around them. Some are simple accidents, others can be more complicated and dangerous.
It was raining one icy winter day in the Deep South. I was deer hunting a favorite spot in a favorite ladder stand. Unwise of me to have forgotten a true rain suit; my exterior coat had reached it saturation point and I decided to opt for lunch. Hot coffee and a cheeseburger sounded about right.
I prepped my gear to descend down the ladder. The metal rungs were dripping with rainwater. As I dropped down about three steps (a 20 foot ladder stand), my left hand slipped off the hold as did my left foot. I swung around like a monkey freestyling. I retained the right hand grip, so I did a lunge to grab ahold with my left hand. I felt my right shoulder pop when I did. I regained my grip, reestablished my left foot safely, and climbed down.
Yeah, stupid, no safety harness line. The right shoulder self-healed and only occasionally bothers me now. A split-second event that could have proven much worse or resulted in surgery. Now, I have added rubber grip-dot gloves, and am much more mindful when coming down out of a ladder stand especially in bad weather.
Another time coming down out of another ladder stand, at the last rung, I looked down to see a copperhead snake coiled on the ground. One more step and I would have been on him. Though it was winter, snakes are still present during the day especially if it warms up some. Always watch where you step in the woods, grassy trails, and around camp.
Trekking in hill and dale can bring any number of perils. Ankle-twisting holes or uneven terrain can bring you down in a second. Crossing fences, water courses, or steep terrain can cause slips, falls, or tumbles. I once fell head over heels coming down a ravine mule deer hunting in Nevada. I just missed a big rock. Scary.
Riding ATVs along woods trails demands cautions. Overhead limbs can whack you. Protect your face and eyes. Wear heavy gloves and boots. Go slow. Goggles are a good idea. Traversing hillsides up or down urges for safe technique as does crossing water.
The list goes on. Enjoying the outdoors when hunting is great, but it requires we keep our wits about us as we move about. It only takes a second to ruin a great day outdoors.