One of the things that makes hunting so thrilling is that it puts us face-to-face with nature, which can mean unbelievable, up-close interactions with animals and splendid views of nature. It can also mean potentially dangerous and even life-threatening situations, brought forth by hazardous terrain, hungry predators and unexpected, fast-changing weather systems. But the benefits and joys of hunting outweigh the risks, of course, so there’s only one thing to do: Be prepared to handle whatever the wild throws your way.
With a well-equipped emergency preparedness kit and a commitment to stay calm under pressure, you’ll be able to tackle any stressful emergency situation with ease. Here’s how to handle some of the more common emergencies that may occur while you’re stalking prey:
If You’re Trapped, Lost or Need to Stay Put…
This is perhaps one of the riskiest scenarios for hunters, hikers and outdoors-men. You find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to head back to camp or to a place of safety, forcing you to post up in the dangerous depths of the back-country. This may occur because you or a partner is injured or because you’ve gotten lost.
- Stay calm and focus on your own survival needs: Do you have adequate shelter, food and water for the night or until you can be rescued? If possible, procure those things.
- Formulate a plan. Is your GPS or phone working and in service? Can you call someone to come and provide aid?
- If you are unable to call for help, use a rescue signal in your emergency kit. A whistle, flare or a combination of both will help alert others of your location.
If You or a Partner Is Seriously Injured…
Injuries are common while hunting, with most occurring as a result of slips, falls and lacerations, especially those relating to tree stand injuries (it’s worth noting that the vast majority of hunting injuries have nothing to do with firearms). How injuries are handled in the moments and seconds immediately after they happen can determine how serious they may become in the long-run.
- Stay calm and formulate a plan. Determine whether or not the injury requires you to stay put and request rescue or if you can treat it and head back to camp.
- Know how to handle serious head injuries. Be able to gauge seriousness based on the AVPU scale, which stands for “alert, verbal, pain, unresponsive.”
- If you or someone you’re with suffers from a broken bone, you may have to ready a makeshift splint or stay where you are until you can get help.
- Learn a few first aid basics. Know what to do when you experience a cut, serious sunburns and other wounds while out in the wilderness.
- Learn how and when to administer CPR. This lifesaving technique can be used in situations of heart attack or near drowning.
If You Come into Contact with a Predator…
A good hunting adventure is only a good hunting adventure if there’s wildlife involved, of course. But what happens when you come into contact with the wrong kind of wildlife? Say you’re out on a white-tailed deer hunt and find yourself face-to-face with a grizzly bear. Or what if you’re out in the desert stalking mule deer and catch the interest of a hungry rattlesnake? Knowing what to do in these scenarios can prevent a fun day from turning sour.
- Check with the state department of natural resources, the U.S. Forest Service or your local parks department to find out what kinds of predators lurk in the area where you’ll be hunting. Know how to handle those encounters before you go hunting.
- If you cross paths with a bear, remain calm and get your bear spray ready. Speak calmly to let the bear know you’re a human and not a predator. Move away slowly and sideways, leaving the area.
- If you cross paths with a dangerous snake, stay calm and freeze. Slowly move away from the snake with no sudden movements.
If You Face a Serious Storm or Bad Weather…
It’s common in many of the best hunting lands: The day starts out sunny, mild and clear and quickly turns foul, with hurricane-like conditions or massive snowstorms heading your way. Make sure to have a plan in place for how to respond if a big storm suddenly appears on the horizon.
- Seek shelter. In the middle of the woods or a field,
you leave yourself vulnerable to injuries and life-threatening scenarios, including lightning, heavy rain, hail, snow, tornadoes and high winds.
- If you cannot find suitable shelter, look for natural shelter, such as a group of small trees surrounded by large trees or dry, low-lying areas.
- If you or someone in your group is struck by lightning, first call for emergency assistance. If that’s not an option, address injuries and administer CPR, if necessary, until help is on the scene.
- Know how to treat serious weather-related injuries, including trench foot and frostbite, if you’re heading out for a winter hunt.
Preventing Emergencies While Hunting
It’s important that, if you decide to spend your free time hunting, you know how to do it safely at all costs. With that being said, the very best thing you can do to stay safe while hunting is to focus on preparedness and protection. Avoidance is always the best course of action in any wilderness survival scenario, so focus on that first. Knowing how to respond in perilous situations can help if things become dire, but it’s ideal that you never find yourself in any to begin with. Happy (and safe) hunting!