By Bob Humphrey
Do you know what the greatest threat to outdoorsmen is? I’ll give you a couple hints. It doesn’t involve firearms or falling from an elevated position. The leading cause of death among hunters and fishermen is hypothermia - exposure. If you’re headed out to hunt or fish this winter you should be prepared.
Dress in layers - You can always remove clothes you don’t need but can’t put them on if you don’t have them. Start with a base layer, and socks, made of a synthetic material that draws moisture away from your body. A wet body loses heat faster than a dry one. Add an insulating layer of fleece or wool in the middle and a protecting layer of waterproof/windproof breathable laminate on top.
Protect Your Extremities - If you’re riding, you should already have at least ankle-high boots and gloves. Insulated ones are a better choice for wet and cold conditions. If you don’t have a full face helmet and face shield, wear a face mask or light balaclava under your helmet.
Carry a Survival Kit - At the very least, include a compass - for finding your way if lost; waterproof matches - to start a fire; high energy food items, a knife and a whistle to signal for help. Other items to consider are some type of shelter (a space blanket), a length of cord, a flashlight and first aid supplies. You should also bring water, or some means of water purification. Dehydration can accelerate hypothermia. If you’re riding on an ATV space is less of an issue so bring along anything else you might need should you get lost or injured and need to stay out overnight.
Have a Plan - Plan your route for the day. Stick to it and leave a map or description of where you are going and when you will return with someone else at home.
Cold, wet conditions may be intimidating to hunters and fishermen, but game often moves more and fish bite better with the falling barometer. Don’t let bad weather keep you inside, but be prepared before you head out.