Extreme weather hunting

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Hunting Safely In Extreme Weather Conditions[edit | edit source]

The importance of hunter safety is a major concern of the conservation department and many aspects of hunter safety are already well researched and appropriate programs have been implemented to improve safety habits. Gun regulations and hunter safety courses have vastly improved the rate of firearm injuries and hospital visits. However, one issue that goes rather unaccounted for is the weather conditions. Many hunters are not prepared for the harshness of the elements, and most do not have a plan or the proper equipment to deal with the extreme conditions.

Adair County is one of the most prominent hunting counties in the state of Missouri, especially for deer rifle season. The rifle season occurs in early to mid -November, a time when extremely cold temperatures are a distinct possibility. While northeastern Missouri is relatively cool the majority of the year, midsummer temperatures have been known to soar well above one hundred degrees and for those who enjoy fishing and other outdoor activities, education should be available about how to beat the heat during the summer.

Heat exhaustion is the number one cause of outdoor illness during the summer months. Temperatures in Adair County reach on average about eighty degrees in the summer, and with increasing humidity, heat exhaustion is a very real threat (Adair County Weather).

“If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it may lead to heat stroke. The key difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion is the presence of confusion and other mental status changes during heat stroke. During heat stroke, the neurological system is affected and can cause odd behavior, delusions, hallucinations, and eventually seizures or a coma. At the first signs of heat exhaustion, you should stop activity and cool the body by seeking shade, shelter or a cool room, and drinking cold fluids. Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms are severe (Heat Exhaustion Symptoms).

There are many great ways that one can avoid heat exhaustion. First, it is very important to become acclimated to the heat for at least one week prior to prolonged exposure. This is most important for out of town visitors from a cooler climate. Outdoors enthusiasts should avoid the hottest parts of the day and wear light colored, loose clothing that can breathe. The most important aspect of avoiding heat exhaustion is staying hydrated, not only with water, but something that replaces key nutrients and electrolytes. Beverages such as soda and alcohol lead to quicker dehydration and are often the primary reason for dehydration in those who spend a prolonged amount of time in the heat.

The primary season for deer hunting is almost exclusively in the winter months. The intense winters of northern Missouri can lead to many cold induced health hazards, with the primary concern being hypothermia. Hypothermia is the number one cause of outdoor fatalities (Michigan Hunter Safety Course).

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing your core body temperature to fall. Hypothermia is often induced by cold, wet conditions, such as rain, snow, sleet, or immersion in water. However, hypothermia can occur at temperatures as high as 50° Fahrenheit. Moisture from perspiration, humidity, and dew or rain on bushes and trees also can soak your clothing over time, putting you at risk in cold weather. Wet or damp clothes will draw heat out of your body more rapidly than cold air. Wind lowers your body temperature as it evaporates moisture from your body. Resting against cold surfaces also will draw heat from your body (Michigan Hunter Safety Course).

Uncontrolled shivering if often the easiest, yet most ignored sign of hypothermia. It also begins to slow as hypothermia progresses. Other signs and symptoms include drowsiness, memory loss, and slow and slurred speech. Hypothermia is most easily avoided by dressing properly. Clothing should be thick enough to insulate the body, yet resistant to moisture. It is important to dry off as quickly as possible when you do get wet. It is also beneficial to eat foods that are high in fat content, such as peanuts or chocolate. These foods give the body a quick burst of energy and help to generate heat. One of the most important factors hunters should monitor before they depart outdoors is the wind chill. The wind chill is the "perceived" temperature to the human body, based on both air temperature and wind velocity. On a cold, windy day, your body loses more heat than it does on a cold, still day. Heat is literally blown away from your body, causing you to fell colder. With a temperature of -15 degrees Fahrenheit and winds blowing at 35 mph, the wind chill index would be -48 degrees Fahrenheit and would cause exposed skin to freeze in 30 seconds With the temperature of 15 degrees Fahrenheit and winds blowing at 35 mph, the wind chill index would be -7 degrees Fahrenheit, which would likely cause frostbite and make outdoor activities dangerous (Severe Winter Weather).

The message is not that extreme weather conditions are too deadly for anyone to survive in. It is urgent that hunters prepare themselves for these conditions and take the proper equipment and knowledge with them into the outdoors. With proper preparation, almost all life threating aspects of the weather elements can be avoided and hunters and outdoor enthusiasts can have a more enjoyable time partaking in the activities that they love. Family members should be able to have peace of mind knowing that their loved ones have been adequately prepared and are well equipped to conquer any weather conditions that may come their way.

References[edit | edit source]