You are hunting an elk and focus all your attention on stalking the animal form through the trees and over ridges.
Before you know it, darkness quickly fills the mountain forest.
There is 3 feet of snow on the ground. Every single tree looks like the one beside it. The temperature is dropping fast. You don’t have a flashlight, water or a compass. And you have absolutely no idea where you are.
Terry Lammers, a member of the Rocky Mountain Sportsmen Association and a hunter for almost 40 years, found himself in that exact situation the first time he went elk hunting in the Flat Tops Wilderness north of Glenwood Springs.
“You think it’s no big deal, that you’ll be able to find the trail,” Lammers said.
But after a few hours of searching, Lammers realized he and his friend were completely lost in a darkness so black they couldn’t even see the ground.
“A panic sets in,” Lammers said. “It’s not like losing your car in the parking lot.”
For six hours after the sun went down Lammers wandered aimlessly.
Finally he stumbled upon a ridged depression in the snow and realized he had found vehicle tracks.
Each young man took a track to follow and eventually found more people.
Lammers said the frightening adventure taught him a valuable lesson about hunting safety.
Now, the 53-year-old man from Erie always brings a GPS with him when he is hunting and always carries food, water and a first aid kit.
“I’d never had a problem before,” Lammers said. “But the one time
you don’t take it is the one time
you need it.”
Training before Taking Aim
Colorado requires that every person who is applying for a hunting license who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1949, must successfully complete a hunter education course.
Before the mandatory classes became law in 1970, Colorado averaged nine fatal and 24 non-fatal hunting accidents each year.
But with hunters attending safety classes, by 2004 those numbers dropped to 1.6 fatal and 10 non-fatal hunting accidents per year.
According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife the basic purpose of the hunter education course is to teach safe, responsible firearm handling in the field, in the vehicle and in the home after hunting.
The class focuses on hunting laws and ethics, wildlife identification, game care and outdoor survival through lectures, videos and hands-on activities.
Beware of the BB’s
Even if Vice President Dick Cheney is not part of your hunting party, mishaps and accidents can happen quickly if people in large groups are not careful.
Jim Vanek of Greeley was pheasant hunting with a band of 20 in Kansas.
The day was going fine until the pheasants starting flying up out of the tall grass.
“The pheasants are getting up, things are getting hectic and you forget about the other guys,” Vanek said. “When people start shooting, those BB’s have to go somewhere.”
Somewhere ended up being the face of a man from Oklahoma.
One BB went through his nose and another imbedded itself in the man’s Smith and Wesson hunting glasses.
Had the shooting glasses not been there the BB would have ripped through his eye.
“Oh Lord, it was a mess,” Vanek said remembering the man’s bloody face.
Emma Schmautz, Greeley Tribune
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