Are We Forgetting About Keeping The Older Generation Outdoors?

Now that I’m in my 50s I tend to look at life a bit differently than I did when I was…oh, say 20 or 30 years old.   When a person is younger they have an abundance of unbridled energy and enthusiasm.   As you age, the mind often says I sure want to do that, but the body doesn’t always agree with that misguided thinking.

This past weekend while I was deer hunting I looked up at several trees and thought…hmmm, those trees would sure be wonderful supports for a cobbled together deer stand for next season.   All a person would have to do is climb up the tree, start pounding some nails into wood, and contort the body into unusual positions to get the project completed.   Sure sounds like fun…NOT!   Well, it did when I was half my current age, but not now.DSC08896

As a sportsman ages you learn to adjust your activity to what your body can endure.   Unfortunately, there comes a time when many hunters (and certainly even fishermen) simply give up.   When the fun of an activity becomes a chore, that signals to many it is time to move on to other less strenuous activities.

Now, let’s contrast this with the efforts underway by many organizations to get more youth involved in the outdoors.   A very noble cause and I don’t mean to take anything away from those efforts, but I still have to wonder if perhaps we are forgetting about the other end of the sportsman spectrum?

I think it is time all of us as sportsmen don’t overlook the seniors in their hunting and fishing camps.   When things start getting tough—whether it be building deer stands, getting into or out of boats, walking long distances, etc.—several years can be extended to a sportsman’s outdoors fun just by providing a helping hand.   Trouble is, for many seniors acknowledging this loss of independence is a bitter pill to swallow and they will not ask for help…and sometimes will not even accept it when it is offered.

P1010015It’s fine and dandy to introduce youngsters to the great outdoors.   I think in many ways for our heritage to continue this is an obvious priority.   But realize older sportsmen, or those with disabilities, also deserve some greater attention throughout our ranks.

Consider the efforts you spend to help an older person continue their enjoyment of the outdoors simply “paying it forward.”   Eventually, God willing, we all grow older and our day will come soon enough to deal with these same dilemmas.   Do you simply hang up the outdoors life for the easy chair or accept some assistance from a younger, stronger, more able-bodied person?

Thankfully, I am not quite to the point where I need to curtail too many of my outdoors activities thanks to a decrepit body…but when the day draws closer it would be my hope that someone younger recognizes the importance of keeping me out in the woods…or on the waters.   If for only a few years longer than I otherwise could.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Make That One Less Deer For The Fall Hunt

Each weekday morning about 7am you will find me out at the bus stop waiting with my 5–y/o kindergartner to get picked up for school.   I’m discovering it to be an interesting time standing waiting alongside a busy morning highway.   And today was certainly no exception.

The bus had departed maybe ten minutes earlier and I was still standing near the road talking with the neighbor.   The traffic was zipping by with folks in a hurry to get to their jobs for the day.   This included a fast-moving semi truck presumably hauling grain heading northbound.

For some reason my eyes just focused on this semi as it trailed off away from me when suddenly a deer darted directly in front of the semi.   The distance was maybe 200 yards from where I stood and I witnessed the semi swerve and then came a noticeable “thud.”   From even my angle it appeared this deer took it squarely in front of the truck’s grill.   The semi never even slowed down and just kept on trucking down the road.

Moments later another car oblivious to the accident sailed by and I watch as its driver attempted unsuccessfully to swerve and bounced over the debris in the road.

The neighbor and I then slowed additional traffic down to warn them as we ventured down road to discover the eventual carnage.

Deer

We quickly removed as much of the deer from the middle of the road as not to cause continued traffic problems.   Let me tell you…the site of this might have been bad but the stench was nearly overwhelming.

Indeed, this deer was crossing the road heading right onto my property when it got schmucked.   Not a pretty sight, but one I have grown accustomed to seeing along this road and in the very spot, nevertheless.

But, I’m not going to whine about one less deer for this fall.   Instead, I want to remind folks it is that time to be careful…and to train your mind NOT TO SWERVE away from a deer when driving.   I know that’s hard to do, but let’s face it a semi truck is not going to evade hitting a deer.   Some of the best drivers in performance cars cannot react that quickly (and safely).   It requires a person to just be mentally prepared and not to overreact.   Why?

Simple, on this same stretch of road maybe 1/4 mile heading in the opposite direction this happened some 35 years ago.

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A fawn was standing in the roadway and the semi attempted to avoid it.   Not a good outcome.   The driver had gone over a million miles accident free prior to this incident.   Explain that one to your employer.

So, let this be a reminder…for safety sake do not swerve to avoid deer or you easily can lose control and cause more damage anyway.   Let this also be a reminder that deer are on the move this time of the year and it pays to be vigilant and aware of those areas they are likely to be traveling.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Temperature Vs. Trophy: Making The Tough Call And Letting It Go

One of the dilemmas of early season hunting is the weather can be unseasonable until things begin to stabilize later into the fall season.   So, today I ask the important question…if a trophy animal presents itself within shooting range and there is a chance the elevated temps could spoil the meat before it can get handled properly, will you let it go?

I know for many hunters this situation can present itself and be one of the most agonizing decisions a hunter will ever make.   You could have spent countless hours in the deer stand or on a difficult stalk only to let the animal see yet another day thanks to prevailing temperatures and circumstances beyond your complete control.

Let me explain.   Back in 1996 I was hunting antelope in Montana and my season was winding down.   I was in day five of a six day hunt and the heat of the open range had taken its toll on me.   More importantly, it had taken its toll on my coolers as my supply of camp ice was quickly dwindling.   Past experiences had taught me how much ice to bring, but past experiences did not have to endure the high heat as I witnessed on this trip.

My partner and I belly crawled up on some nice antelope where they were within easy shooting range.   I glanced through the herd and picked out the buck I wanted to take.

But I hesitated.   Indeed, I did not feel right about what I was about to do.

You see, I knew back in camp I did not have the ice necessary to deal with the meat I would likely harvest.   Moreover, I was on a rough section of the ranch where it was over an hour to the ranch house…and another two hours to the closest city where I could have found a processing plant with a cooler or, at the very least, more ice.

Call it improper planning if you will, but the point is a shot taken at this point would have resulted in a nice animal bagged but a beautiful animal’s meat all but wasted by the act.   I chose NOT to shoot and ended up going home empty-handed from the western hunt.

These type of tough calls are all part of hunting.   Consider the deer hunter who sees a trophy deer but at the edge of his shooting range.   Sure, it might be reasonable to take such a shot, but hunting at extreme ranges also increases the odds for an extended recovery.   If you know there’s even an increased chance for a delayed recovery and perhaps wasted meat, is it ethical to take the shot?   It’s a tough call.   It’s also a very personal call.

This scenario can play itself out many different ways.   Marginal shots while upland bird hunting when your normal canine partner is not with you to aid in the quick recovery…I think you get the picture.   The main goal of hunting should be the preservation of the meat being harvested, but it’s easy to forget during warm weather conditions how the precious time clock begins ticking quicker the moment the shot is taken.

I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on this subject.   Have you ever taken a chance you later lived to regret?   Have there been days you could have hunted, but rather chose not to for this very reason of high heat perhaps leading to spoilage?   Is it even ethical to shoot a game animal when the odds are stacked against the hunter for obtaining a wholesome meat product to take home?

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.