Outdoors Column: A Few Lessons Learned

Periodically, a person should take the time to look back over the past year, take stock of their experiences, and learn from these, so one does not make the same mistakes twice. Hopefully, listing these happenings will cause me to remember and avoid a few unpleasantries in the future. Perhaps others will learn from my misfortunes, but I doubt it. Outdoors people know it will never happen to them.


A person should be cautious about hunting on horseback while their hunting partner is riding a mule. Mules can go places a horse cannot, but the horse does not realize he cannot go those places. When your horse gets high-centered on a partially downed tree, it makes him very nervous when you approach with a chain saw to rescue him. He is not sure if the rescuer going to use the saw on him or the tree.


Do not fish in a small boat with a large dog. Large dogs tend to get excited frequently and do not mind a nice swim when the boat turns over. To them, it is just part of the fun.


If you cast your bait at the base of a tree that has over-hanging branches, there is a 90% chance you will get your lure stuck in a branch. If you are fortunate enough to free it by jerking and whipping your rod, the lure will most likely come flying back directly at your face. If you are able to duck in time to avoid getting a lure between the eyes, it will hit your fishing partner squarely on the back of the head. With some fishing partners, this is worse than having a hook in your own forehead.


During deer season, if you pass up shot after shot, waiting for that big buck you saw on the trail camera in August, chances are good your freezer will be empty come winter. It is best to decide before the season starts if you want one particular deer or nothing. It just might come down to nothing, and a person cannot regret the decision after the fact.


It is always good to remember, determination will not replace conditioning and youth. In their teens and twenties, people can go from rather sedentary lifestyles to hunting all day with no ill effects and even get up and do it again a second day. With bit of age and lack of exercise, one day of extreme hunting is exhausting. The second day can kill a person off. It is always a good idea to get in shape before hiking miles of hills and ditches.


If you think you are a good shot with a shotgun, try a round of sporting clays or five stand. Either of these games come closer to real life hunting than either trap or skeet. They will make a person humble, and eventually, a better shot.


Near the end of bow season when the temperature is well below zero and your wife says the two of you should go do something together, deer hunting is probably not what she had in mind. Do not push your luck.


Always carry a first aid kit (see above about fish hooks) and a cell phone (see about sawing your horse out of a tree). It is easier to call for help than ride a mule double all the way back to the truck and a first aid kit can be useful for a multitude of injuries that always seem to happen.


This year, be safe, enjoy the outdoors, and do not make the mistakes I did.