What if the Worst Happens? - Basic First Aid and Safety Precautions
So God forbid, the worst happens? You are in the middle of nowhere and you seriously cut yourself, shoot yourself, or even worse shoot someone else!
(Above: Even when stalking in the South East you can be a long way from help)
Maybe a client or partner has a heart attack or you take a nasty fall from a high seat. These incidents are rare and fortunately incidents of accidental shootings are rarer still, however as a result of deer stalking being conducted in inaccessible places, the consequences can be very much worse than they might be if you were in the home or near a built up area.
I was talking to a regular client about this the other day as we set out to stalk one of our more remote locations. We considered the question: how many deer stalkers and deer managers carry a first aid kit, know any basic first aid, or have any idea of what they would do in an emergency?
Clearly here prevention is better than cure. We should act safely and in line with best practice guidelines. If you are not fit you should not undertake arduous stalks, especially in remote locations. However if you stalk deer long enough, sooner or later, at the very least, you are going to seriously cut yourself. I even met one guy at Bisley who had managed to shoot himself in the foot when out hunting. Not life threatening if you are near a built up area, however if you are miles from the nearest road it might very well be.
(Above: Be prepared to carry a basic first aid kit)
'Health and safety' are dirty words these days, with silly stories of children having to wear goggles when playing conkers, or workers having to go on training courses to be taught how to lift anything over the size of a match box.
However we have a responsibility to at least make some preparations for the worst, and this is even more necessary if, like me, you are a professional stalker and have a duty of care to your guests.
This is what I do, it is not meant to be perfect, and I do not hold it up to be a model to be emulated, however it might act as some food for thought for those that currently have made no safety precautions or arrangements.
Firstly, I always carry a mobile phone. This to my mind is the most basic, sensible precaution and will allow me to summon help.
Secondly I am clear in my mind, to what closest point I could direct an ambulance or summon help. Be clear about where you are, and be prepared to describe this position to emergency crews. Chances are they may not be able to get to your exact location, and you may not be able to describe it precisely. In these circumstances have in mind a rendezvous point where you, or a colleague that knows the ground, can meet them.
(Right: Celox, designed to stem major arterial bleeds)
Thirdly; learn a little first aid and carry a basic first aid kit with you. This should at the very least contain equipment that will help you prevent a serious bleed. I am talking bandages and tape. Personally I also carry something called Celox. I would highly recommend this to stalkers and anyone working with dangerous equipment.
Basically it is a small sachet of powder that can be poured directly into a major arterial bleed to cause rapid clotting. It is only to be used in circumstances of extremely rapid blood loss, such as a major arterial bleed. My brother introduced me to this and he works with chain saws. A similar compound is also used by medics in warfare to help stem bleeding from gunshot wounds. Enough said.
Fortunately accidents are rare, however our tools of the trade are guns and knives and we work in remote locations, so you do the math and make some plans.