Staying safe in the backcountry.
Heading off into the back country, whether hunting, hiking or tramping there are alot of factors to consider regarding keeping safe. I have discussed a few things like telling someone where you are going and what to do if you don't return by a certain time. Having good gear and equipment and the right gear and equipment for what you are doing. Checking the weather, knowing where you are going and that you can get there and back safely, any river crossings? use of bridges, your fitness.
Back country walks, it's about enjoying the experience.
So let's assume (and really that's not a great thing as assumption is the mother of all F#@k ups) but in this case let's assume everything has fallen into place. Easy walk, a couple of hours into a hut, no need for a tent etc. fitness is good, got all the right gear, equipment, food. An over-nighter.
However accidents happen and staying safe in the back country can, in the blink of an eye just happen. Could be as simple as a twisted ankle or worse a fall with a broken bone or a dislocation, even a bad cut. A branch falls out of a tree and hits you or your walking buddy. A stone dislodges from up the hill, bounces down and hits you. Didn't see that happening did ya! But it does happen.
Because accidents do happen, be prepared and have a good first aid kit.
Being prepared, having a good first aid kit and knowing how to apply that first aid is really important. Do a first aid course, they are well worth it. Remember it might be you you are applying the first aid too or it could be some random other person that needs your help.
Even though you are careful in the back country accidents do happen so be prepared if something should happen. Ideally as a back country user the whole idea is to have an awesome walk, get some great memories and photos and share them with your fellow walkers. You don't want terrible memories of the disaster trip where 'Lucy' broke her leg falling down a hill and you had to get air rescued. (probably a trip you would remember for ever)
The last thing anyone wants. But thank god they are there for us.
Hunters tend to put themselves into more dangerous places but are generally pretty good back country or off the trail users. But sometimes do put themselves into places that, if they made a mistake could see them very badly hurt or on the odd occasion die. So from a hunters perspective, they need to be more aware of their surroundings and assess the situation accordingly. If this looks dangerous, it probably is so back away.
A simple situation could be, walking down a steep muddy bank or hill. Once you have mud filled up in the tread of your boots you will now have no grip and just slide off down the hill or bank, picking up speed and where are you heading ? how far are you going to keep sliding? This could end very badly. Or you could walk a hundred meters to the left and walk down that rocky ridgeline that would be a safer option.
In this type of country making good choices is essential. Don't take the risk.
Taking risks can have dire consequences and you have to weigh up, 'is this really worth it' If I make a mistake here what could happen? Broken bones, bad lacerations, internal damage, death. You have family and friends that love you and want to see you again so think about them and the pain you will cause them if you don't make it. And taking that risk... for what.... so you can get a slightly better photo or maybe shoot that animal. Is your life worth a slightly better photo or some hairy goat? I don't think so.
On average more people die crossing rivers in our back country than anything else. Here's a risk that do you even have to cross that river? Can you use a bridge somewhere that will save you getting wet and putting you or you and walking friends in a dangerous position. Do you have the skills needed to cross that river safely? if not then just don't attempt it. You might be quite fine crossing it now but in five hours, due to rain that rivers is now swollen, fast flowing and very dangerous. You are now stuck on the other side of the river and can see camp. Its times like this that people make mistakes and 'have ago' ....'I think I can make it'.... And are found a few days later, having been drowned. Sad but true.
Doing a river safety course is well worth it. But even so you still need to be able to know when its too dangerous
I guess the idea of this blog is to get you to think about the risks than can happen when you get into the back country. If you are in a situation stop and evaluate the risk. The plan here is to enjoy your walk or hunt and get out safely and that you can share good memories of a great trip. Staying safe in the back country, 99% of the time things will go to plan but it's that 1% that we have to be prepared for.