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Into the Outdoors: Hazards Found in the Great Outdoors

As mentioned recently, we are going to focus on some more hazards to be found in the great outdoors.

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 the #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 near 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 by 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.

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