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Avoiding Danger in the Woods

Hunting is an extremely safe activity. According to the National Safety Council, far more people per 100,000 participants are injured while bicycling or playing baseball than while hunting. Further statistics show that while around 100 die in nationwide while hunting each year, more than 1,500 die in swimming-related accidents. But, there are dangers. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you don't become a statistic.

Use a Safety Harness. By far, falls from treestands are the most reported hunting accident. A fall can be a tragic event, or a nonevent, depending on if you're wearing a good safety harness. Summit's Seat-O-the-Pants harness is a five-point harness that's easy to get into and out of and can save your life. Summit even makes a Cub version for youngsters.

Heart attack! Another killer of hunters is the stress caused on the heart when killing or dragging out a deer or other large game animal. Take some time prior to the season to get in shape. Walking with a backpack weighted down with a few books is a good, low-impact way to start. When dragging out game, take your time, and get help. Never stress yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Mistaken for game. This is a phrase that is often seen in accident reports. When hunting with others, always know where they are, and don't shoot if you can't account for each of your party. This also is a basis of gun handling – know your target. Never shoot at something you "think" is game.

Decoy danger. This one is related to the one above. If you see someone sneaking your decoy(s), whether it's turkey dekes, a deer decoy or your spread of waterfowl decoys, alert them by yelling, never by waving. The sudden movement of a wave when someone's engrossed in the sneak can trigger him into whipping out a quick shot. When turkey hunting, place your decoys at least 20 yards out and off to one side. Never place your deer decoy where it can be seen from a road.

The Critters Themselves. Animal attacks are extremely rare, but Tularemia (rabbit fever) and Arboviruses (viruses transmitted to humans through mosquitoes, such as the West Nile virus) can be serious. Take care cleaning any animal, even so far as wearing surgical gloves. As far as the Arboviruses go, wear a bug spray when you can, and try Thermacell unit. These handy devices are awesome for keeping the little buggers away.

There are roughly 8,000 poisonous snake bites per year, and since we're hunting where the snakes live, that ups the odds of a snake encounter. Snake-bite-proof boots and/or chaps help, but most bites still are the result of a hunter messing around with a snake. Best is to back away from the snake and leave the area.