Elk Hunting – Safety

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Every year a few tragic stories emerge from elk country about hunters who died from accidents, hypothermia or getting lost. Most of these tragedies were avoidable if proper safety precautions had been taken.

Surprisingly, vehicles are the major cause of hunting related accidents. Sportsmen from the flat lands of the Midwest who are suddenly confronted with steep, narrow mountain roads which may have logging trucks hurtling down them, run the risk of over-reacting.

Drive a mountainous road slowly and cautiously. Instead of trying to squeeze by, stop and back up if you encounter another vehicle in a narrow stretch of road. Also, be cautious when approaching a bend in the road, where another vehicle may suddenly appear. Most of these areas have a turnout area on the outside of the road. Slowly drive into it to avoid another vehicle coming around the bend suddenly.

The second leading cause of hunting related injuries are gunshot wounds associated with vehicles. Hunters often become lazy and carry loaded firearms in their vehicles while driving, just in case they see an elk along the road. Besides being illegal, the sudden excitement of seeing an elk can cause a hunter to flip off a safety and prematurely discharge his gun while it is pointed in the wrong direction. More than one transmission or motor has been ruined after being shot by a foolish hunter.

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Unfortunately, tragic accidents resulting in deaths have also occurred as a result of leaded firearms being carried in vehicles.

Thanks to modern technology, you don’t ever have to be lost again. A hand-held location device, called a GPS (Global Positional System) costs a couple hundred dollars, but will lead you back to your exact starting point. This unique instrument uses satellite tracking technology and can save much frustration, suffering, and even lives.

However, the standard compass and map will also keep a hunter from becoming lost. But a compass and map is useless if you don’t take a reading before you leave camp or your vehicle. This reading will tell you what compass direction you need to backtrack toward to return to camp.

Every hunter who travels in elk country should also carry an emergency kit consisting of: emergency blanket, one day supply of good and water, matches, flashlight, first aid kit, plus fluorescent ribbon for aerial location. If you get injured or lost, this kit will make your ordeal both bearable and survivable.


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