As many already know, I'm a gimp. I had an unfortunate fall a number of years ago and it has resulted in too many surgeries and permanent damage to my knee. I can no longer climb mountains for sheep hunting and have to ride my quad in hopes of picking off moose in river bottoms and have other people help me with carrying heavy loads. I'm very thankful for my friends, they have been great companions in the woods and on the stream banks.
One bit of information, though; that I think I should share with everyone, is that safety needs to be as high a priority during recreation as it does at work. My sordid story behind my knee is that I could have made a 100% recovery if not for the negligence during my second surgery causing a major ligament to blow out and thus, impacting my recreational ambitions immensely. After my initial injury, I spent a lot of time thinking about how it could have been avoided. My solution; a couple of pieces of duct tape across my boot laces. Sounds insignificant but it could have prevented or reduced a career ending injury and I'd still be crawling up mountains and carrying my own quarters, fish coolers and playing with my kids. Have you ever caught your laces on anything in the woods?
My original injury stemmed from my foot being caught via my laces on a piece of metal, my knee acted as a fulcrum for my entire body weight and I ended up on the losing end of a torn meniscus and a few heavily sprained ligaments.
Safety is something that I do as part of my work now. I enjoy the gross out factor of my training sessions when I show my classes my post op pictures of me knee. What I almost always get choked up on, however, is sharing that I can no longer run with my girls, climb above timberline and scope for sheep, bears, moose or whatever. I have to plan my trips with a buddy or two to accommodate my deficient abilities in carrying stuff; you don't know (some of you do) how lame it feels to have to ask for help as a 35 year old man with the knees of a 75 year old man.
My recreational life has come to screeching halt; I have to fish the handicap holes, pay strapping young guys to carry my dipnet coolers back to the truck and shell out moose quarters to friends to pay for their help in loading and packing.
DO NOT THINK FOR A SECOND, that I'm some idiot that was never careful. I received kudos and awards frequently at work for my safe behaviors and observations; I'm just like the rest of you; except now I'm broken and reluctantly reliant. Don't take your situations for granted, don't become complacent, don't become like me. I'm not sure if there's a safety book on outdoor recreation but there should be. Common sense is your handiest tool and should be kept on hand at all times.
If but for a couple of pieces of duct tape, I wouldn't be writing this right now. I hope you all have a safe and productive season in all your adventures. And don't forget to teach your kids the importance of not only gun safety, but wilderness safety.