Hunters Urged to Use Caution in the Woods

The damage from Hurricane Ivan extends from the Gulf Coast into much of Alabama’s forestland. With hunting season underway, many will be spending time in the woods and exposed to danger from downed and weakened trees. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Alabama Forestry Recovery Task Force have suggestions on what hunters can do to keep themselves safe in the woods.

Blocked Roads: In areas severely impacted by Hurricane Ivan, many hunters will face roads to camp houses and hunting areas that are blocked with downed trees and limbs. If faced with this situation, don’t try to pick up more weight than you can handle. Use equipment to do the job.

Widow Makers: Sometimes the trees that are left standing have limbs that are either dead or only partly attached to the trunk. These “widow makers” can fall without warning and very little sound. Be aware of and stay away from these trees. Mark these areas with colored reflective tape and inform your club members and others to avoid these trees.

Storm-Created Debris: Shy away from using random piles of trees downed by Hurricane Ivan as ground blinds since these piles can be very unstable. If the debris shifts, you might become injured or entrapped.

Logging Activities: Logging activity will be high in areas where a lot of timber was damaged by Hurricane Ivan. Make sure that you know where trucks and equipment are working in order to avoid collisions or being run over by equipment that will be concentrating on removing damaged timber. Four-wheelers can be particularly dangerous because of their speed and small size, and the fact that their engine noise could drown out the noise of other equipment. Be aware of what and who is in the woods at all times and inform all of your hunting companions.

Four-Wheeler Trails: Hunters should walk their four-wheeler trails and trails leading to and from shooting houses or tree stand sites and remove hazards such as spring poles, spears and overhanging logs to avoid accidents once hunting season gets into full swing. Leaving these hazards on the ground, or trying to ride around them, could lead to accidents and problems later on.

Treestands:  Heavy rains and wind from Hurricane Ivan caused extensive damage to many trees still standing in Alabama’s forests. Hunters should inspect each tree for possible damage prior to attaching a treestand to the trunk. The heavy rain associated with Ivan may have caused soil erosion around the roots, which could lead to a weakened root system and increased potential for the tree to fall. Hunters should use extreme caution prior to attaching a treestand to any tree. Always wear and use a full body safety harness while climbing, hunting, or descending from a treestand.

Power Hazards: Hunting club members should be cautious about possible electrical hazards, especially in remote areas where lines could still be down to camp houses, or where electric lines could still have limbs and trees on them. Downed lines present a possible fire and electrocution hazard to hunters and should be repaired by a professional to avoid future problems.

Common Sense: Your common sense will often alert you to danger. Keep a sharp eye out for hazards and alert others to them. Although you might see a problem and avoid an accident, that doesn’t mean a friend will be so lucky if not forewarned.

The Alabama Forest Recovery Task Force has developed a web page with information relating to damage from Hurricane Ivan at www.alaforestry.org/ivan/index.htm.

###