Hunting & fishing comes naturally to humans, but has been a long time since most of us depended upon hunting & gathering for survival. Modern sportsmen go afield not for survival, but for pleasure. The lure of hiking into a valley for the first time, bagging a trophy animal or catching wild trout in a mountain stream have replaced the fight for daily survival. That changes when you are miles from civilization and suffer an injury, then it becomes all about survival.
As the saying goes “Hope for the best, prepare for the worse”, and that is exactly what every outdoorsman should do. Hope for a simple afternoon scouting trip but prepare for a slip and fall which leaves you disabled and in the back country overnight. To some this sounds paranoid, but to others it sounds – prepared.
One of the most common medical conditions facing outdoorsmen actually has nothing to do with an unexpected injury but is caused by simply staying in the field too long – the inability to access necessary medications. If you take medications to control a serious medical condition, such as nitro or an asthma inhaler, you should always have a supply on hand. The stress of taking a trophy animal or hiking a long trail can trigger any number of pre-existing conditions. The same goes for medications you must take on a regular basis. Bad weather, a long tracking job or simply getting lost are but some of the many reason you could find yourself away from home, and you medication, longer than expected. Having your next dose on hand can keep a small issue from becoming a big problem.
Contact with the world
Cellphones, mobile email, and social media – it seems like we can never get away from work or our day to day commitment. For many a couple days in the deep woods are a perfect excuse to unplug, but that does not mean you should leave your phone on the coffee table. Although you may not want to check emails from your tree stand your daily distraction could be a lifeline if an accident does occur.
Being prepared mean more than having your inhaler and cellphone, it means having a basic first aid kit on hand which contains a minimal amount of gear. Due in part to demands by the military there are a large number of commercially available field first aid kits available, some specifically designed for sports, or you can build one yourself. The most serious accident related condition you might face is serious bleeding so you should insure that your kit includes a pressure bandage, gauze with tape and a tourniquet. Other useful items include a small tube of pain killer, antibiotic ointment and latex gloves.
Learn the basics
If you have never taken a basic first aid course and routinely spend time in the back country it might want to consider using the off season to do so. Not only will taking a basic course introduce you to the contents of the first aid kit, before actually needing it, you will also learn how to determine when what appears to be a minor injury may be more serious. Course specially designed for outdoorsmen will also cover issues such as snakebites, harness trauma and heat exhaustion more common to sportsmen.
Good luck and safe hunting!