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Hunting

Safety First - What does this really mean?

Q: Now let’s say you are hunting and the weather turns sour. Its starting to snow, the wind is picking up and the temp is dropping fast. How long do you tough it out or do you head in right away?

After answering this question that "I would keep hunting" some others responded stop hunting, go back, a deer is not worth the risk - it's about safety first dude.

This got me to thinking;

What exactly does safety first mean?
The absence of all danger?
Should we not hunt where there are poisonous snakes, wolves and bears?
An early antelope hunt can have a temp of 100+.
A late artic caribou hunt can have a temp -50 and wind chill -100.
A muskeg contains sink holes and you could fall through & drown.
Is it advisable to hunt where there is no cell service?

I spent 2 decades teaching advanced hunter education. In these classes we taught hunters how to be prepared and survive the unexpected. We viewed the unexpected simply part of the hunt. Has something changed when I wasn't looking?

For this discussion let's assume we ALL practice safe firearm handling.

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from t-town wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

If you know your limits, are prepared and use some common sense your probably more likely to be injured on your drive to the hunt than the actual hunt itself.

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from charlie elk wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

A few years ago on Halloween I was deer hunting along a river in central MN. Snow is not unheard of in October but it is usually a "tracking snow". This time it was not, rather a 12 incher, high wind and sudden cold temperatures 23 degrees putting the wind-chill into negative territory.
In this driving snow I could not see more than a few feet ahead while walking let alone driving the boat back to safety. With the help of a blow down tree and the knowledge of quinzees I spent the night sheltered with a fire for companionship and warmth while the storm raged around me.
What a beautiful boat ride on the way out the next day with all the glistening snow reflecting off the blue water and a 10 pointer in the front of the boat.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Good attitudes.
One's skill set plays a large determining factor with respect to these decisions.
For example if you plan to hunt in snow country - the possibility of heavy snow exists at any moment regardless of what the weather guy says. So if part of your strategy is to stay out and endure using a snow shelter like a quinzee. While you are caught in a heavy snow should not be your first time building and using a quinzee. My advanced hunter education instructor group advocated practicing in a safe enivorment like your back yard and actually sleep in it.
For more info see:
How to Build a Snow Shelter- http://www.ehow.com/how_4001_build-snow-shelter.html

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from Bo wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I think another thing that makes one safer is an understanding of some basic tenets of my old companion Murphy. Any contingency not planned for will happen and any contingency planned for will NOT happen. The east way is always mined. And if the mission is going according to plan, you are just too early into the mission. Pardon the cynicism on my part.

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from WVOtter wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

It's all about risk assessment. Consider the liklihood an event could happen or go wrong and what the severity of that event may be...then plan accordingly. All previous posters have summed it up...it's going to depend on you, on that hunt, and any number of factors at that time and place. If a storm roles in and you're 1 mile from your truck in terrain you've hunted your whole life...keep hunting. If you're leary of your path back and dressed relatively light or running out of day light...call it a day.

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from Kody wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Reviewing accidents and workplace incidents I have found there is often a common denominator. In most cases the person involved recognized the danger and did not do anything about it. "I wondered about it or I thought about it but...," are common responses after the event. The point is simple... if you wonder about it 'do' something about it. If you recognize a danger in the wilds you respond by making a clear decision. I have warm clothes and supplies so I will weather the cold snap. I am not prepared it is time to get somewhere warm. Sometimes you are going to make a bad call. That is when the real learning happens because those of us who are prepared to acknowledge we made a mistake are most likely to learn from the mistake. That is how you get better at making those decisions. I know that sounds pretty adolescent but it a lesson that many adults never learn. It is damn hard to learn from your mistakes when you are not prepared to acknowledge you made a mistake! Lost in the woods with darkness falling and the temperature dropping, Man I shiver just to think about such a cold night... What else should I be putting in that survival kit?
There are always risks around us and it should be fun to face such challenges. I don't mind getting a scare in the woods because you are in a place that should make you feel small. It keeps you humble in the face of something that makes the detail of your life seem trivial and the hustle of the city seem like so much empty noise.

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from SD_Whitetail_Hntr wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Once again these two pretty well hit the nail on the head. Safety first is going to mean a whole lot different to someone without survival skills and a plethora of knowledge in comparison to someone who has taken the time to learn their surroundings and necessary precautions. With this said, even the most experienced outdoor enthusiast puts safety first. You sure as hell shouldn't see a seasoned vet out on a hunting trip where temps will drop to 10 below with nothing more than a lightweight fleece and pants. For some, putting safety first is second nature, for others it's a lot harder. This is why people die in the great outdoors. For me, safety first is simply not going beyond your ability to control your situation, unexpected or otherwise.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Yoda wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I think what it really boils down to is being prepared for the unexpected and having a contingency plan if things go sour. It's also a good idea to make sure you know your limits, if you're in a new area and a storm pops up probably best to call it a day while you still know where you are at. Knowing your limitations is key so you know how far you should take it, unfortunately many people will continue because they believe they can tough it out. I'm not saying that you shouldn't push yourself, but when it comes down to your life, maybe you need to be a little more conservative in your decision making and turn around while you can.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bo wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Unfortunately, this is very subjective topic and I don't think can be defined in concrete terms. What is safe for me may not be for a 22 year old who has spent all of his life in the suburbs and only a few hours a year out in the wilds. BIG NOTE: I am NOT trying to put down any 22 year old that has spent all of his life in the suburbs. I have been caught out in the wilds more than once when conditions were less than desirable to downright bad and others would have been, shall we say, nervous. While I was not caught up in the lap of luxury, I weathered the situation rather well, and suffered no long term effects, other than to gain experience and resolve to be sure I was more prepared the next time I went into the wilds. I have treated all of those as learning experiences. Experience teaches us to be safe. We get experience by screwing up. It is one thing to have a lot of book knowledge; it is another to have experience.
Never in my life, have I worried about whether the activity that I was participating was dangerous or not. Many of my activities have been inherently dangerous. My wife of 29 years attributes that to my being a male. I just am careful to be safe while doing them.
I have been out hunting years before I had a cell phone. I still consider them to be a luxury. Where I hunt has very limited cell service, even what is there is dependent on how you are holding your mouth.
I have been stalked by a mountain lion. I have been shot at by people who had no business being out in the woods. (It was difficult, but I did resist the urge to return fire.)
I think the most important part of being safe is being prepared, physically, mentally and emotionally. Physically is my physical conditioning. Mentally is having a storehouse of knowledge to keep me safe. Emotionally is maintaining the attitude that I will not just survive, but prosper. I separate out the mental and emotional because there are too many facets to each that are interrelated but are so separate. There is the knowledge base and the attitude. I have seen people who had the knowledge base to survive, but because of their situation, gave up and perished. They made choices that I believe that they knew better, but were unable to make the choice that needed to be made because they did not believe they were going to survive.

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from charlie elk wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

A few years ago on Halloween I was deer hunting along a river in central MN. Snow is not unheard of in October but it is usually a "tracking snow". This time it was not, rather a 12 incher, high wind and sudden cold temperatures 23 degrees putting the wind-chill into negative territory.
In this driving snow I could not see more than a few feet ahead while walking let alone driving the boat back to safety. With the help of a blow down tree and the knowledge of quinzees I spent the night sheltered with a fire for companionship and warmth while the storm raged around me.
What a beautiful boat ride on the way out the next day with all the glistening snow reflecting off the blue water and a 10 pointer in the front of the boat.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

It's all about risk assessment. Consider the liklihood an event could happen or go wrong and what the severity of that event may be...then plan accordingly. All previous posters have summed it up...it's going to depend on you, on that hunt, and any number of factors at that time and place. If a storm roles in and you're 1 mile from your truck in terrain you've hunted your whole life...keep hunting. If you're leary of your path back and dressed relatively light or running out of day light...call it a day.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bo wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Unfortunately, this is very subjective topic and I don't think can be defined in concrete terms. What is safe for me may not be for a 22 year old who has spent all of his life in the suburbs and only a few hours a year out in the wilds. BIG NOTE: I am NOT trying to put down any 22 year old that has spent all of his life in the suburbs. I have been caught out in the wilds more than once when conditions were less than desirable to downright bad and others would have been, shall we say, nervous. While I was not caught up in the lap of luxury, I weathered the situation rather well, and suffered no long term effects, other than to gain experience and resolve to be sure I was more prepared the next time I went into the wilds. I have treated all of those as learning experiences. Experience teaches us to be safe. We get experience by screwing up. It is one thing to have a lot of book knowledge; it is another to have experience.
Never in my life, have I worried about whether the activity that I was participating was dangerous or not. Many of my activities have been inherently dangerous. My wife of 29 years attributes that to my being a male. I just am careful to be safe while doing them.
I have been out hunting years before I had a cell phone. I still consider them to be a luxury. Where I hunt has very limited cell service, even what is there is dependent on how you are holding your mouth.
I have been stalked by a mountain lion. I have been shot at by people who had no business being out in the woods. (It was difficult, but I did resist the urge to return fire.)
I think the most important part of being safe is being prepared, physically, mentally and emotionally. Physically is my physical conditioning. Mentally is having a storehouse of knowledge to keep me safe. Emotionally is maintaining the attitude that I will not just survive, but prosper. I separate out the mental and emotional because there are too many facets to each that are interrelated but are so separate. There is the knowledge base and the attitude. I have seen people who had the knowledge base to survive, but because of their situation, gave up and perished. They made choices that I believe that they knew better, but were unable to make the choice that needed to be made because they did not believe they were going to survive.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Yoda wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I think what it really boils down to is being prepared for the unexpected and having a contingency plan if things go sour. It's also a good idea to make sure you know your limits, if you're in a new area and a storm pops up probably best to call it a day while you still know where you are at. Knowing your limitations is key so you know how far you should take it, unfortunately many people will continue because they believe they can tough it out. I'm not saying that you shouldn't push yourself, but when it comes down to your life, maybe you need to be a little more conservative in your decision making and turn around while you can.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD_Whitetail_Hntr wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Once again these two pretty well hit the nail on the head. Safety first is going to mean a whole lot different to someone without survival skills and a plethora of knowledge in comparison to someone who has taken the time to learn their surroundings and necessary precautions. With this said, even the most experienced outdoor enthusiast puts safety first. You sure as hell shouldn't see a seasoned vet out on a hunting trip where temps will drop to 10 below with nothing more than a lightweight fleece and pants. For some, putting safety first is second nature, for others it's a lot harder. This is why people die in the great outdoors. For me, safety first is simply not going beyond your ability to control your situation, unexpected or otherwise.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bo wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I think another thing that makes one safer is an understanding of some basic tenets of my old companion Murphy. Any contingency not planned for will happen and any contingency planned for will NOT happen. The east way is always mined. And if the mission is going according to plan, you are just too early into the mission. Pardon the cynicism on my part.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Good attitudes.
One's skill set plays a large determining factor with respect to these decisions.
For example if you plan to hunt in snow country - the possibility of heavy snow exists at any moment regardless of what the weather guy says. So if part of your strategy is to stay out and endure using a snow shelter like a quinzee. While you are caught in a heavy snow should not be your first time building and using a quinzee. My advanced hunter education instructor group advocated practicing in a safe enivorment like your back yard and actually sleep in it.
For more info see:
How to Build a Snow Shelter- http://www.ehow.com/how_4001_build-snow-shelter.html

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from t-town wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

If you know your limits, are prepared and use some common sense your probably more likely to be injured on your drive to the hunt than the actual hunt itself.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kody wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Reviewing accidents and workplace incidents I have found there is often a common denominator. In most cases the person involved recognized the danger and did not do anything about it. "I wondered about it or I thought about it but...," are common responses after the event. The point is simple... if you wonder about it 'do' something about it. If you recognize a danger in the wilds you respond by making a clear decision. I have warm clothes and supplies so I will weather the cold snap. I am not prepared it is time to get somewhere warm. Sometimes you are going to make a bad call. That is when the real learning happens because those of us who are prepared to acknowledge we made a mistake are most likely to learn from the mistake. That is how you get better at making those decisions. I know that sounds pretty adolescent but it a lesson that many adults never learn. It is damn hard to learn from your mistakes when you are not prepared to acknowledge you made a mistake! Lost in the woods with darkness falling and the temperature dropping, Man I shiver just to think about such a cold night... What else should I be putting in that survival kit?
There are always risks around us and it should be fun to face such challenges. I don't mind getting a scare in the woods because you are in a place that should make you feel small. It keeps you humble in the face of something that makes the detail of your life seem trivial and the hustle of the city seem like so much empty noise.

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