Hunting, and fishing alone can be great fun. There is something to be said for independence, peace, and being reliant on yourself. Mountain Men, native hunters, and Fred Bear were experts when hunting alone.
Solo hunting and fishing can also be deadly. Recently I watched a show about the “Last Alaskans”. This reality special showed several Alaskans heading afield to moose hunt. Eventually they all scored but not without a lot of effort. Fortunately, no one was injured. If they were, help was days away.
When we head afield in Montana or many remote areas, anything can happen. Bears, mountain lions, wolves, and snakes populate where we trek. Logs, snags, deadfalls, and other dangers lurk. Dead trees can fall, loose rocks can slip, and we are using sharp knives, weapons. All of this adds up to danger.
Years ago, Rocky Jacobsen, an expert packer, hunter, guide, caller, and outdoorsman had an accident. He was deep in the backcountry hunting elk and downed a bull. Light was going fast as he started to dress and quarter his elk as he had done many times before. This time, the long knife slipped and sliced him along the chest and full length of his arm. Oh CRAP!
Rocky was miles from the trailhead and fortunately was not alone. The companions bandaged and duct taped Rocky’s wound and put him on a horse. The long ride saved his life. Had he been alone, who knows what may have happened. He now runs Rocky Mountain Game Calls and is still hunting.
Most accidents afield will be Hypothermia, sprains, breaks, or cuts. Other things can go wrong in a hurry, but my guiding, teaching, and outdoor experience commonly sees these. A little planning and preparation can go a long way to saving the day.
Know what to do in each case. Do some homework on what to do in these cases.
HYPOTHERMIA When the body core gets cold, the body begins to shut down. This often happens after getting wet or in the snow. Ironically, most hypothermic deaths occur over 70 degrees! Drink warm liquids, dry off, get in warm clothes, and watch for shock. “If their face is red raise their head, if their face is pale, raise their tail”.
SPRAINS RICE! “Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation”. Once the sprain occurs, act quickly. Pack the sprain with snow, dip it into a cool creek, and elevate it. With luck, it will ease off in a few hours. Now add a compression bandage and use a walking stick to get out of the wilderness.
BREAKS Broken bones and severe sprains need to have a splint. Use materials found afield. Belts, boot laces, vines, and duct tape are great cordage to secure the splint. Foliage can add padding. Crutches and walking sticks will help you get mobile. For pain, chew on green willow sticks. The bark contains acetaminophen or aspirin like ingredients.
CUTS Fingers, feet, and arms seem to get cut often. Rinse out the cut and stop the bleeding. Apply pressure and raise the cut area to slow the bleeding. Create bandages and secure with tape or cordage. Pressure points are good to know.
Always be prepared for the worst. If you are thinking about the risks and dangers, you can avoid most accidents. Do some research about field first aid and survival. I never enter the wilds without being prepared to spend the night, if I have too. Candles, matches, tape, fire starter, minimal meds and first aid kit is a good place to start. A space blanket or emergency sleeping bag are also good choices. None of these take much space or weight. For food, a bouillon cube, tea bag, metal water bottle, candy bars, powdered energy drink additives, filter straw, etc. will literally save the day.
Don’t become a victim. Hunt smart and if alone, be prepared!
For more Montana Grant, find him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.