Hook and Bullet Club

by Nick Wognum

The injury was a stupid one really, jumping out of the back of a pick-up truck and twisting an ankle on uneven ground. But this happened in town, and with some ice packs and hobbling around, all should be back to normal soon. <BR><BR>There are times and places where an injury, even one as basic as a twisted ankle, can lead to a lot more trouble.<BR><BR>Hunting is the perfect setting for injuries. Between walking over uneven terrain, you have tree stands, swamps, darkness, logs and slippery rocks to put the brakes on your expedition.<BR><BR>Plus there’s the all-too-common situation of pushing your physical limits beyond what your body is used to. If instead of typing on a computer you spend all day traipsing through the woods, you’ll feel the difference in a hurry.<BR><BR>But most hunters don’t really think about what could happen if an injury were to occur. Many of us have taken off in the woods without letting someone know of our planned route of travel or when we will be back. <BR><BR>Add in starting your trip on a wheeler or other motorized transportation and you can really make it difficult for help to find you should something go wrong.<BR><BR>It’s easy to change your starting point by driving in the woods, parking and then walking to a point where nobody may think to look for you right away. <BR><BR>Even at this time of the year there are people back in the woods. There’s a few out there hunting horns, looking for the antlers the bull moose have started to shed. You have to get off the beaten path to find them and with the temps still dropping below zero on a regular basis, these hunters are inviting trouble as well.<BR><BR>Cell phones may be a solution IF you have reception and your battery isn’t dead. Many hunting parties use two-way radios for peace of mind and as long as the law on this is followed, it’s a good safety item to have in your pack.<BR><BR>Especially in the winter months, having some type of fire starter along is a simple precaution and you can add on from there. A compass, first aid kit, food, extra clothes, the list can be longer than there is room to pack all of it.<BR><BR>But there’s something alluring about heading off on your own. Just you and the woods, and whatever happens is why they call it the unknown. <BR><BR>We’re all guilty of doing it, myself included. But as the years pass, you learn to swallow your pride and leave a note on the kitchen table.<BR><BR>“Heading up to Johnson’s Point, then around the pond…” It can really be that simple and even though you might write 99 notes without there being any need, it’s the 100th one that keeps you from having to spend an unplanned night in the woods. <BR><BR>We teach kids in snowmobile safety that the best thing to take along on a trip is a friend on another snowmobile. Even with the newer machines that are considerably more reliable, it’s just not worth the risk to go it alone.<BR><BR>Yet, just as in hunting, it happens. I took my yearly solo snowmobile trip on a Sunday afternoon, leaving only my destination but not my route on how I was going to get there and/or how or when I would be coming back.<BR><BR>This made for some interesting thoughts as the air holes and endless slush on the Beaver River threatened to swallow me and the sled right then and there. <BR><BR>But I thought twice before heading down one of our deer stand trails that has a steep hill right after a sharp corner. This would be no place to get stuck with the over two feet of snow still in the woods. <BR><BR>So I cut straight across the beaver pond, hopping over the dam and knocking down some alder brush to get to our trail on the other side. I avoided the hill but had to push the Ski Doo to its limits to keep from getting stuck. <BR><BR>Yes, there is an excitement in going it alone and feeling that freedom. But there’s also that common sense move of making sure you don’t get yourself in a situation you can’t easily get out of. <BR><BR>My twisted ankle reminded me of all this Thursday afternoon. Now if it would just heal up so I can get back out there. Wait. So WE can get back out there. That sounds better already.