In Wisconsin, fall and hunting go together like Cheeseheads and the Green Bay Packers.
Hunting is not for everyone, but those who enjoy it are dedicated to the tradition. Hunters plan and prepare for the event months before the season opens.
Surprisingly, even though the sport of hunting uses equipment designed for deadly force, it is relatively safe when it’s done right.
Thanks to today’s hunter safety courses, people are 130 times more likely to be injured while playing football than bow hunting.
But arrows and bullets aside, here are a few tips to keep you moving all year long.
1) Practice aggressive tick and mosquito protection. In the fall, ticks are also hunting for a meal. Treat clothing, boots, and jackets with Permethrin. This insecticide prevents deer ticks from crawling into your jacket and pants. Ticks carry a host of diseases that can slow you down months after the hunt is over.
A full-strength insect repellent will also help you keep pesky mosquitoes at bay.
2) Dress for warmth. Warm muscles work better than cold muscles. Foot, hand, and body warmers can help you stay warmer when you’re sitting in a deer stand.
Dress in layers to keep sweating to a minimum. There’s nothing worse than sweating and sitting. At the very least, it will chill you to the bone and make your hunt less enjoyable. Being wet with sweat also makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
3) Condition your body for the sport. Whether you use a bow or use a rifle, you will enjoy your time in the stand or blind more if your muscles are as ready for action as your hunting equipment.
Get your body in shape for hunting. Add conditioning exercises to your routine that strengthen and support your shoulders, hands, and wrists. Bowhunting, especially, stresses and strains the tendons, ligaments, and muscles as you pull back the string and release the arrow.
Without proper conditioning, hunters are susceptible to shoulder injuries, including tendonitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff tears.
Forearm injuries affecting the tendons that connect the forearm (radius and ulna) to the elbow are also common. Overuse injuries limit your movement and affect your aim.
If you’re hunting with a party during gun deer season, it’s not too late to up your walking game. Start walking longer distances each day, so your body is ready for long treks through the woods.
4) Check your tree stand and safety harness. According to a 2015 article by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, a lifelong gun and bow hunter in Wisconsin has a 1 in 20 chance of sustaining an injury that requires medical attention due to falling out of a tree stand.
If you use a stand, make sure it is in perfect working order, and know how to use it before you head for the woods.
Injuries from mal-functioning tree stands are a frequent cause of severe orthopedic injuries during hunting season.
5) Share your location. Give people your hunting plan. Allow several people access to the location app on your phone. Check to see if this application works even if your phone is in silent mode. These two simple actions can be lifesavers if you do not check-in at the pre-arranged time.
6) Sit or stand with proper posture. Remember to stand up and move around occasionally to prevent back pain.
7) Take your shot with proper form. One movement with bad form, a shot of adrenaline, and the added weight of a bow or gun, is a perfect recipe for a back injury, especially if your core muscles don’t provide strong support to your spine.
8) Wear gloves while dressing out your game, especially deer. Animals can carry disease. Protect yourself. You may also want to test your deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Of course, there are common-sense safety measures to take.
- Wear blaze orange.
- Never hunt while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Never hunt after dusk, and . . .
Always, always, always be sure of your target; if there is any doubt, don’t shoot.
Bone & Joint wishes hunters a safe, enjoyable, and fruitful season.