If there's a simple fact in this world, it's that you are immortal. Other people might have accidents, but you won't. Other people might have heart attacks, but you won't. And it doesn't matter that you're a heavy smoker, 80 pounds overweight, out of shape, and diabetic, you're immortal.
Don't we all wish that were true?
The deer gun season opens Monday, and that's a strenuous time for everybody. For lots of local gunners the season means it's time to get up off the couch, put away the beer and potato chips, and spend 8 to 10 hours a day marching across fields, through woodlots and climbing over deadfalls. And if you get a deer, that's even tougher. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that walking over rough terrain, field-dressing and dragging a deer raised the heart rates of middle aged males well beyond levels produced by treadmill stress tests. Which puts them at risk for heart attack and sudden death.
It's a simple fact that you're not going to give up deer hunting, an exciting business and a tradition with many families, so what can you do to reduce your odds? One great risk reducer is to carry a cell phone at all times. In some of Ohio's wildest country it might not work, but in most of the places you're likely to hunt (near home) the phones work fine. And if you do experience chest pains, dizziness, nausea, or other signs of illness, don't try to be stoic, to tough it out, stop hunting and call 9-1-1. If you're hunting with friends, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. It's just common sense.
Most hunters carry a small backpack with such simple necessities as a thermos of hot soup, a sandwich or two, maybe some coffee. Add a small first aid kit to that pack this year. It weighs little, and if you fall and sustain a cut or even a broken limb the ingredients inside can stop blood flow and bind up a wound. Make sure the kit contains a few aspirin, too. I keep reading about how taking a couple of aspirin at the beginning of a heart problem can literally save your life.
If there's one factor more important than most others, it's ignoring your ego. All of us seem to think we're in our 20s, instead of 50 or even 60, and we remember well those good old days when we'd hunt all day, then play half the night. If you're driving for deer and getting tired, don't worry about the thoughts of fellow hunters, just say "I think I'll sit this drive out and rest a little." Then do so. Eat a sandwich, sip some coffee, even take a short nap in the pickup cab, and then drive some more.
And if you do kill a nice buck or doe, don't drag the animal out yourself unless it's absolutely necessary. Get a couple of young guys in the party to help. After all, what are young guys for? And if you're hunting alone, don't try to reach your truck in one long pull. Drag a little, then sit down and rest, then drag some more. There's no hurry.
Finally, and this is really important, if you're hunting alone and don't have a cell phone or it doesn't work where you like to hunt, tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back. I don't rabbit hunt, squirrel hunt, seek deer, or even go fishing without telling my little lady exactly where I'm going and when I'll be back. If I'm not back, she knows what to do and where I can be found. Forget to do this, have a heart problem or break a leg, and you might be out there for a couple of days. Or forever.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Ohio's popular deer gun season will open statewide Monday, offering hunters a full week to harvest a whitetail. The season will again include an extra weekend of gun hunting Dec. 15 and 16. Some of the bucks taken are likely to be huge, since Ohio is becoming known for its outstanding deer and trophy racks. The Buckeye Big Bucks Club has recorded more than one half of its top 10 entries in both typical and non-typical deer racks during the last decade. Of the 144 entries scoring higher than 200, 92 have been killed since 1990.
Six Defiance County men have been charged with 54 wildlife violations in the Defiance Municipal Court. The six suspects are accused of wildlife violations concerning deer, fox, black bear, turkey, and Canada geese, according to the Division of Wildlife. Officers confiscated an ATV, a trailer used for field transport, a variety of firearms, six mounted deer heads, a mounted black bear and fox, and turkey and deer meat. As a result, the men were charged with a variety of third and fourth-degree misdemeanors including illegal method of taking, overbag, illegal possession and spotlighting.
How important is CRP to duck hunters? Very important, according to a recent study. CRP has been responsible for an additional 2 million ducks a year since 1992, and that's the average. In wet years, like 1997, it's two times that many. There are about 5 to 6 million acres of CRP in the Prairie Pothole Region alone, and if duck hunters lose half of that, and those losses are random, we'll lose half of our productivity.