Is it possible what you eat—or better yet—don’t eat while out hunting making you more susceptible to be involved in a hunting accident? Seriously, it’s hard to sometimes admit, but most of us are not elite athletes when we traipse into the woods or walk along the slough. Indeed, many of us just don’t understand our bodies quite like that football player or cross-country runner.
One of the first magazine articles I wrote back in the mid-1980s touched on this very topic and I doubt much has really changed since then. At the time I was a senior at the University of Minnesota studying technical communications. On campus there was a professor who was considered a Farm Safety Specialist and he had just completed an exhaustive study on why farmers have work-related mishaps.
The topic intrigued me to the point I set up an interview with this professor to learn much more about his area of research. He provided me with copious amounts of data, but the crux of what he discovered was that farmers during the fall and spring busy seasons push themselves to get all their work done. They work long hours, they exert themselves sometimes beyond their capabilities, but most importantly they don’t always eat correctly.
I wish I could remember the professor’s name…but alas, it has been too many years now. Still, the emphasis of his findings was to stress that farming accidents occur at greater rates when the farmer (or victim) has lowered blood sugar levels. Skipping meals, eating empty foods lacking in nutrition, or just getting out of the routine all correlated with higher rates of incidents. In other words, poor (or lacking) blood sugar often meant the farmer took unnecessary chances and simply did not have good mental clarity in performing activities around dangerous equipment.
The professor knew where I was going with my inquiry. Would it be fair to postulate that such a conclusion could be attributed in some respect to why hunters have accidents? After all, many hunters keep pushing their bodies with long hours and heavy stress and we don’t always eat appropriately.
I took the good professor’s findings on farmers and visited the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources where they had thorough records on hunting accidents dating back several decades. I charted out when most of the accidents occurred and…”voilà” there seemed to be some similarity in “time of day” for when these incidents took place.
Now, granted…when you are working on a magazine article you simply don’t do the exhaustive research one would do if it was for a college thesis or some other intense research project. That simply wasn’t my intent at all. No, instead I wanted to show there could be some correlation for hunters with low blood sugar levels and a higher propensity to cause harm to self or others.
Bottom line on what was learned. The peak time for accidents—whether it be for farmers or for hunters—was typically mid-morning around 10am and mid-afternoon around 3pm. If a person was to monitor the blood sugar levels, this would also be about the same time things start to dip…assuming a normal breakfast and lunch was consumed.
What I would like to recommend all hunters consider is properly fueling the body. Eat a healthy breakfast. Take time for lunch. Stash a few healthy snacks in your pocket for those in-between times.
The point is your body needs the same good care as that elite athlete who is also pushing the physical limits of their body. In fact, as someone who likely isn’t as familiar with how their body reacts under stress, you might need it even more.
Keep a baggie in your pocket filled with trail mix. Stay hydrated drinking plenty of fluids. If you stay in the woods all day…fill a thermos with hot soup or chili. Not only does the food provide a warming feeling…but as we’ve learned, keeping those blood sugar levels in check could make you a safer, and certainly a more productive hunter functioning with greater mental clarity.
©2011 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.