The first part of September means many Oklahomans are excited to get back to the great outdoors for a pastime they love. Whether you’re new to hunting, or you’ve grown up hunting and enjoy partaking in a family tradition each fall and winter, understanding the responsibility involved is extremely important. Before you head out to enjoy a weekend in the field or forest, take adequate steps to prepare, keeping these hunting health and safety tips in mind.
Assess your overall health
Did you know a heart attack is three times more likely to take a life than a gunshot wound? Many hunters aren’t thinking about the strain that hunting puts on their bodies — from the physical exertion required, the cardio effort of walking long distances, climbing in and out of stands, and the adrenaline rush when an animal approaches — and don’t realize how much of a workout hunting can be for your heart.
Before hunting season, see your general physician for a checkup to make sure your heart is healthy enough to handle the time outdoors. Stay well-rested and well-hydrated throughout your hunting trips, too.
Aside from wearing and bringing the proper cold, rain, ear and eye protection, it’s vital for hunters to be on high alert of any impending weather dangers and to be aware of the weather forecast.
Know what’s expected to happen, weather-wise, especially if you’re going to be on or near a body of water. Heavy rainfall in a short period of time can easily cause a small boat to capsize on a lake or create treacherous conditions for hunters in the wilderness. If you’re hunting in a remote area, plan as though you’re going to get stranded: bring the appropriate supplies and if cell service is not available, have walkie talkies on hand. Before you head out, make sure you tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone.
Make smart preparations
Before your first hunt of the season, it’s important to check blinds and stands for wildlife like snakes and mice that may have made a home there in the off-season. When preparing to use a tree stand, use a harness and drop rope to safely climb up, and never climb into a tree stand carrying your weapon. If you’re hunting in a group, take mental notes of stand placement and understand where your lines of fire cross, and if you’re hunting on public land or in an unfamiliar area, wear bright orange for added safety.
Be mindful of hazards
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of brucellosis, a dangerous disease that can be contracted from fluids from infected animals. When you’re cleaning any animal post-hunt, make sure to go slow and take your time so you don’t cut yourself, being watchful for ticks, missing patches of hair and other tell-tale signs of disease. Use clean, sharp knives and wear proper protection, like rubber gloves. Brucellosis and other diseases can also be contracted from eating infected meat, so know the warning signs and see a physician immediately if you’re concerned.
From 2013 to 2015, 41 Oklahomans died from ATV accidents. With ATV use especially common during hunting outings, it’s important for drivers to exercise caution.
Hunting season in Oklahoma is a great time to enjoy some fresh air and relaxation. Prep before you go and take the right precautions so you can enjoy a weekend in the outdoors, safely.