Hunting season is picking up, with archery for deer beginning on Oct. 3. On the PULSE sat down with John Hanna, physician assistant with UPMC – Primary Care based in McElhattan, to talk about key safety tips hunts should keep in mind.
Q. What should hunters keep in mind during the upcoming hunting season?
A. Understanding and being honest with yourself about what you’re capable of, what you’re not, what things are going to really stress you physically. Mountains that we are climbing when we’re 25 years old are a lot different when we’re 55 or 60 years old. And there are certainly some really intense terrains in this area as far as hiking and mountains and so understanding that and having a really good idea of where you’re going to be hunting and what challenges you know you might face as far as getting an animal out of the woods. That can be a significant task.
Q. What are some of the most common health issues among hunters?
A. No. 1, would be a cardiovascular event. Somebody who has an underlying heart disease, and they are unaware of the significance, or the severity of that. When they go to hunt and they exert themselves, they are stressing their heart more than they have for a whole year or longer. They could have a heart attack.
On the same sort of pathway. High blood pressure is something that often can go undetected for a long period of time. Somebody might not really have any significant symptoms, but if they have high blood pressure, they’re physically exerting themselves while they’re hunting, climbing mountains, etc., it could tip the scales – as far as having an event like a stroke.
Thirdly, diabetes, and an uncontrolled diabetes, which again, oftentimes can go unrecognized for a long time, months, even years if it’s not really checked for or screened for.
Q. How should someone prepare for hunting season?
A. Get in shape. That’s going to be key to preparing themselves. I think that sometimes different things can present themselves while you’re hunting. I’ve hunted for a long time. And sometimes, you expect to be exerting yourself a lot, doing some hiking and things, but then there’s other times where things change and you end up hiking, a mountain that you maybe didn’t expect to and that can really test you physically. So getting in shape would be crucial. Also, understand the importance of having adequate fluids. Being well prepared from a clothing standpoint, to ensure that you’re gonna be warm enough, while you’re hunting. And then the other part of the prevention aspect would be having a visit with your primary care provider, having the appropriate labs done to understand what your overall risk is.
Q. What supplies should you bring with you while hunting?
A. Adequate fluids would be important for good healthy nutritious snacks to get through the day and have enough energy for a 12-hour day in the woods. Fruits are certainly going to provide some good calories. Different high protein, snacks like nuts and trail mix. And, you know, peanut butter based snacks are going to be important to get through the day and to make sure that you have the energy in case you get a deer or a bear or something that you need to drag out of the woods for sometimes miles.
Q. Is it best to hunt alone or with a group?
A. From a safety standpoint, hunting with somebody else is a really good idea. Trying to avoid being in a situation where you are alone and unable to communicate with anybody is important. Fortunately there’s great ways to stay in touch with people these days as far as cell phones or GPS devices in case something does happen, or changes, then you’re able to communicate and get some help.