Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lightning Safety for Hunters

I remember as a boy hunting in the woods behind my house. I was probably 13 and dumb as a bag of rocks. Between the woods and my house was a cotton field. It seemed like a giant field at the time, but there was probably less than 1000 yards from my house to the woods. When I went out by myself I was held to a strict curfew. I had to tell my mom when I was going to be back and being late was not an option.

One day, right about the time I had to be home, a thunderstorm hit. Lightning was striking everywhere. It was scary. I had to decide between risking crossing the open field, with my very metal shotgun, in a giant lightning storm, or risking being late and making my Mom upset. I chose to brave the storm. The worst that could happen was death. With my Mom, you never knew!

Lightning is both necessary and sufficient for...Image via Wikipedia

I ran as fast as I could, trying to stay lower than the cotton plants. I made it home and watched the storm from out porch, including a few strikes in the field I just ran through.

Everyone who has spent much time outdoors has had a few close calls with lightning. I have had several. Being caught in a thunderstorm while you are hunting is a terrible experience, and potential hazardous. While the average person has a 1 in 250000 chance of being hit by lightning, the average person does not spend hours in tall trees, surrounded by a metal stand, and holding a long metal tube (a gun, in case you don't have an imagination). I would say that hunters are in a higher risk group that most.

So, what do you do if you are stuck out hunting and thunder starts to rumble?

Get out of the tree, dumbo
Obvious, but worth saying. Lightning likes trees.

Get in a house or vehicle
Houses are grounded by plumbing or electrical wires. This will direct the lightning down and away from you. Vehicles are safer than nothing. Not because of the rubber tires, but because of the metal box you are in. Just be sure not to touch any metal in the truck.

Find some short trees
If you cannot get to a house or vehicle, then look for short trees near tall trees. The lightning will be attracted to the tall trees and not the short trees where you are.

Get rid of your gun and anything else big and metal
This part sucks. love my guns. Put any large metal objects down and move at least 100 feet away.

Go to a valley or depression
Lighting hits higher areas sooner that low areas. Just watch out for flash floods.

Stay small
If you are caught in the open, crouch down and stay on the balls of your feet. Keep your contact with the ground as small as possible. Do not touch the ground with your hands. If you get struck the lightning will hopefully pass up one leg and down the other, avoiding vital organs (but possibly cooking your balls).

Avoid lone objects
Lone trees in a field are very dangerous. It would be better to stand in the open field.

Watch out for the tinglys
If you skin or hair feels tingly lighting may be about to strike close by. Run. Lightning, like most hunters, has a hart time hitting a moving target.

Here are some tips for if you or someone you are with gets struck. Actually, if you get hit and are alone you are fairly screwed. If someone you are with gets hit do the following:

Start CPR immediately if they are not breathing. There is no residual electrical current to worry about. Treat for burns and get help ASAP. Burns are most likely around jewelry, belts, fingers, and toes.

The chances of being struck by lightning is very low, but it is foolish not to be prepared.

Hey! If you haven't already, head over to the knife giveaway and enter a win a Buck pocket knife! It doesn't cost a thing and there are not many entries, so the odds are pretty good!
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