Concerns for late-season deer hunters
Very often, deer hunting in the late archery and flintlock muzzleloader seasons requires one to hunt alone. All of which increases safety concerns because of the potential for cold temperatures and inclement weather.
This year, both the statewide late archery and flintlock muzzleloader seasons open Wednesday, Dec. 26, and continue through Saturday, Jan. 12. In Wildlife Management Unit 5C, both seasons remain open until Saturday, Jan. 26.
While dealing with these conditions requires planning and common sense, technology has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade to make hunting alone and in cold weather safer. For starters, there are Global Positioning Satellite units that not only allow hunters to map out their favorite hunting locations, but also serve as a guide for those who may wonder off into a new area.
By downloading and saving hunting locations, hunters can inform family members where they plan to hunt, where their truck will be parked and when they expect to be home. Very often, cell phones will not be able to make or receive calls in some mountainous areas, but a GPS works anywhere there is open sky to receive satellite signals.
There are some GPS units that are even capable of sending a text message, such as "running late," or "got a deer." Even more amazing is the development of products such as a Personal Locator Beacon which can transmit distress signals from one's location to searchers.
Like all electronic devices, even the best of these products are dependant on batteries, so for that reason it is still wise to carry a compass and topographical map. In addition, a compact, albeit, well-stocked survival/first-aid kit and Space Blanket should be standard equipment in every hunter's backpack.
Being able to make a shelter and fire are important to overnight survival, and it is surprising - even in cold weather how fast a bottle of drinking water is consumed, so carry a few tablets for purifying water. Another good idea is to use a headlamp, rather than a flashlight, to keep hands free while working in the dark.
Items in a first-aid kit should include everything from headache tablets to bandages capable of stopping a serious wound. Even for veteran hunters, an accidental cut from a broadhead or skinning knife is always a possibility.
For those who hunt from treestands, many of the newer safety harnesses have enough pockets to nearly eliminate the need of a backpack. Also, items such as a whistle and compass can be work around the neck.
Pack high-protein food that supplies energy, and fresh fruit is a better source of sugar than candy. Another consideration are the benefits to be had from today's high-energy drinks.
Finally, keep warm without overheating, which means dressing in layers and not putting on heavy outer garments until reaching one's hunting location. It is also advisable to pack at least one extra pair of socks.
Hunting alone can be a satisfying adventure. With proper planning, it can also be safe.