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Into The Outdoors: Dangers of Outdoor Activities


My original plan for this week’s column was to feature airguns. However, I just got a brand new one, with which I am delighted. I decided to postpone the topic until next week, so that I can try it out.

There was a disturbing report from the Game Commission. Recently, in Luzerne County, two small children were attacked by a black bear while playing in the driveway of their home. Their injuries were not serious, but scary all the same. If the correct bear is found, the Game Commission has stated that it will be euthanized. This is sad. It seems like killing a bear for being a bear. If more people took common sense steps to avoid contact with the bruins, that would be better.

I know that it seems as though I sometimes harp on this subject, but I think it is vitally important. Let’s look at some dangers of outdoor activities, with an emphasis on old geezers like me.

Taking a fall is an ever present danger. Older people seem extra susceptible to this problem. Often, as we age, our sense of balance suffers. Especially since my bout with Covid, this has become a real problem. In fact, there are a couple of my favorite fishing spots that I would be half afraid to visit nowadays. This is especially true of the area below #9 dam on the Allegheny. It was always a bit tricky getting down over that rocky bank, even with a stout walking stick. Now, I don’t know if I should even attempt it. Some of the best level ground is located far enough away that one is hesitant to use the gasoline needed to get there. Luckily for me, I live very close to the river, and some nice, flat areas are easily accessible.

One of the worst falls you can take is when you step lengthwise on a log, even a small one, buried under wet leaves. You always land right on your tailbone, and that really hurts. In older folks, the bones are more brittle, which could certainly add to this already bad situation.

Lightning is a danger that is, for some unexplainable reason, often overlooked. It can be deadly. If you are in a metal boat, on an open lake, holding a graphite rod, you are sort of inviting a lightning strike. When the storm clouds start rolling in, it is time to head for shore. While it is true that walleyes often bite well when bad weather is on the way, the possibility of a good catch is not worth risking a lightning strike. Shore anglers and golfers should keep an eye on the sky as well.

Boating safety is often overlooked, despite the obvious dangers. Good life preservers, especially those you wear, are an important piece of equipment. Even if you are a strong swimmer, a sudden plunge, especially into cold water, can present deadly problems. Plus, you might be injured, and thereby unable to swim. For those of us on the older side, a long swim may be beyond our endurance level.

Speaking of endurance, that can be a big problem, again especially for those of us who have grown long in the tooth. This applies mostly to hunting, where hill climbing, deer dragging and certain other activities may be beyond your ability. Know your limitations, and stay within them.

Next up, we have dehydration. This one can really sneak up on you. It is often accompanied with heat exhaustion. Back in my jogging days, I once passed out from heat and dehydration. I also came close to it once on the golf course.

These things by no means indicate that we should spend the rest of our days in the old rocking chair. There is still a lot of outdoor fun to be had. The key lies in adapting your activities in order to stay within your capabilities.

I have mentioned bobcats in the column numerous times over the years. They are becoming more and more common here in Pennsylvania. Recently, I read an article about them which revealed some things I didn’t know about them. One is that, usually, rather than going over or around a log, they will walk the length of it. Also, they are one of only a few predators that can successfully prey on porcupines. I don’t know how they do it, but they do.

And finally, it is getting around time to get your new hunting license. Even if, like me, you are a geezer with a lifetime license, you still need to renew it, and get your antlerless license application.

 

Chris Henderson email: salmonangler1@gmail.com

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