Thursday, October 4, 2012

Don't Be Stupid! Public service announcement...

     I’ve done a lot of risky things in my 43 years…Some irresponsible, most unnecessary and others just plain stupid! I could’ve been the poster child for “Hey ya’ll watch this!”

     Most of my reckless acts came in my teens and as a young man feeling his way through adulthood, but even at a young age, I pushed my limits. A misspent youth I suppose… Jumping from the porch roof under an open umbrella, racing down a sledding hill in a Radio Flyer wagon or chasing a softball into the middle of a busy intersection that nearly cost me my life as a 5th grader…Ramping an old Chevy pickup on SR 262 or defying gravity and putting a ’72 Coupe DeVille’s brakes to the test as I sped along narrow county roads. Racing motorcycles at Hilltop or knocking around in the woods and up steep banks of a gravel pit in an unreliable 4x4 without a thought of wearing a seatbelt.  Launching an old, aluminum john boat in a rain swollen Laughery near Milton and praying to make it back to the shore before getting sucked into the whirlpool at Hartford. Leaping from Arnold’s Creek Bridge into less than 6’ of water or playing stretch or chicken with a sharp pocket knife or jumping from a moving ski boat and hitting water that felt more like concrete…Yep, I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life and the ones above barely scratched the surface. And if it weren’t for the fact that my parents read these articles, I could go on and on!

     But of all my senseless acts, none were more risky or just plain ignorant than hunting from my deer stands without a safety belt. I freely admit it, for years in my early hunting career, I was never concerned about safety. As a young man, you tend to think that you’re invincible and nothing can happen to “you”…I knew the stats, but a safety belt or harness just seemed to be more of a hassle than a necessity. Then came along my kids…suddenly, as a young father of two, I was no longer just responsible for myself when I was out there enjoying Mother Nature…I had two beautiful children at home that wanted to hear about “Daddy’s” adventures while hunting and I knew that when the time was right, they’d join me in the woods. How could I not take the time to “buckle in” when I was high up in my treestand?

     For the last 17 years, there hasn’t been a hunt that’s taken place when I haven’t worn my safety equipment. The belts and harnesses have gotten better and more user friendly over the years and there really is no good excuse not to use one. Statistically, more hunters are hurt or killed from falls each year than shooting accidents and ATV accidents combined. Archery season is upon us and we as hunters owe it to our loved ones to wear our safety harnesses. No deer, no matter how large the antlers, is worth the risk of hunting from an elevated stand without taking the proper precautions.

     So fellow deer hunting addicts, get out there, chase some antlers, bring home some venison, thin the herd for the farmers, but most of all, hunt smart, hunt hard and hunt safe and come home to your family.