Take Steps To Ensure You’re Fit For Hunting

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it. At 41 years old I’m not in the best physical condition of my life. I certainly know better…but taking the time to get into a “fitness routine” has not been something I’ve been able to accomplish successfully during the past 8 years.

I must also confess that during these past eight years I have worked part-time for one of Minnesota’s largest private ambulance services – North Memorial Ambulance. While I’ve let my body slowly deteriorate…I’ve also witnessed countless heart attacks and other serious medical conditions befall individuals who were just not as lucky as me.

Case in point was last fall when I was “off-duty” but my pager alerted me to a “hunter having a heart attack” in the woods about two miles from my home. I did the Good Samaritan thing and responded to help out however I could. After driving my truck back into the woods about ½ mile (in deep snow, I might add), I finally located the hunter lying in the snow on the road. He was in his early 50s, looked quite ashen in appearance and was definitely having a serious acute medical condition. I safely drove him out of the woods…met up with the ambulance…and knew right away this guy needed help…AND SOON!!!

As things turned out…he wasn’t having a heart attack. Instead, he was having a “brain bleed” which required immediate surgery to evacuate the pressure this was causing in his head. At the scene he was in such denial and simply refused to go to the hospital. Eventually, however, I wore him down and explained the seriousness of his symptoms. Had he not listened to me…well, there’s a good chance he might now be dead.

Denial is one of the signs we are trained to look for in medical patients. It is particularly present in men (who are stubborn) and will not accept the reality of a situation. On top of that add the fact that deer hunting season only lasts a few days each year…well, most hunters quickly reason they do NOT have time to get sick during hunting season.

Well, I am announcing publicly that I am making some changes to my once-upon-a-time mostly sedentary routine. What am I doing? I purchased one of the neatest little devices that is slowly adding some “wellness” back into my life. I purchased an Omron Digital Pedometer that is truly an awesome little device. My goal is to add 10,000 steps daily to my routine. This device even measures aerobic steps (that would be walking at a pace of 100+ steps/min.), distance, calories burned, etc. Check it out here.

To complement this new toy I have also signed up at www.JustMove.org. This is a wonderful web-based fitness journal that can help you track your progress and set important weekly fitness goals.

This fall, when I’m out pheasant hunting or tracking a deer, I don’t expect to get winded quite as easily as I may have in the past. I’m accepting the reality that I have plenty of work to do to get this decrepit old body back into its mid-20s physical condition…but to better enjoy the outdoors somehow seems to be an incentive making it all worthwhile.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.

Give Babe Winkelman A Break

Last fall, Babe Winkelman, a nationally known outdoorsman and communicator was cited for the alleged illegal use of two-way radios while deer hunting on his property in northern Minnesota. He claims that the use of the radios in his hunting party was for safety reasons…which, in my mind, is a perfectly legitimate reason for their use.

Yet, a local conservation officer who had been monitoring those communications saw it differently and made a citation. Eventually Babe petitioned the court with an Alford plea which essentially doesn’t admit to guilt, but concedes that the evidence of the case would likely point towards a conviction. Babe paid his dues which included a $200 fine and a community service component consisting of writing an article about hunting ethics. Click here to read more.

But this posting isn’t about whether Babe was right or wrong with the use of his electronics last fall. Certainly with the evolution of technology we will all be faced with new challenges that might at times put us on the wrong side of the law. Indeed, I am frustrated with the folks who are now condemning poor Babe as a lawbreaker. I’ve read that several of these individuals are calling for groups, such as the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, to “cut all ties” with the Babe. These are the folks who truly disgust me.

Let me state that I do not personally know Babe, although I once heard him give a lecture to a group of outdoor writers at a convention in Maine. It was truly one of the most inspirational talks I have ever heard. Babe described how early in his career he was to lecture a group of fishermen…but that things started off all wrong. As I recall the details, Babe was so nervous…that he tripped and fell face-first on the stage. Talk about a dramatic entry!! The entire audience was laughing…and this budding outdoors communicator was suddenly at a pivotal point in his career. His choices? Well, he either must pick himself up and now overcome the tremendous stage fright or walk off to never be heard from again.

Obviously, we all know which choice was made by Babe. He didn’t give up…in fact, over the course of 25+ years as writer and TV host I dare say he has inspired many of us to explore and better appreciate the great outdoors. Babe’s enthusiasm for the outdoors was evident whether you saw him in person or on TV.

I ask you this question…do we need more Babe Winkelmans in our outdoor world or should his illegal, albeit unintentional, actions from last fall be used against him to castigate a truly great outdoorsman? Consider this…place all of the positive things Babe has done to encourage enjoyment of the outdoors experience on one side of the scale. Now place his alleged law violation on the other side of the scale. Do the two even come close to balancing out? I DON’T THINK SO!!!!

To those individuals who choose to cast stones at this great outdoorsman I have but one thing to say. Babe Winkelman promotes the outdoors positively and touches the lives of more people in one week…than any of the nay Sayers will achieve after a lifetime of whining about another person’s success. Rather than bring a person down for making an honest mistake…let’s encourage him on, to learn and to grow from the experience.

I wholeheartedly encourage the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to continue their alliance with Babe as their official spokesperson. He’s a man of great character who deserves far better treatment than some individuals in the outdoor world have given him after his mistake.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.

Don’t Take This Election For Granted

If you’re a sportsman don’t you dare take this election year for granted. The choice for who should remain our president for the next four years is quite clear. There is only one candidate who deserves the sportsman’s vote. That candidate is President George W. Bush.

If you’re still undecided…take a look at the latest issue of Field and Stream who interviewed both candidates. It is truly laughable how Senator Kerry trys to fool us into believing that he has any sporting interests whatsoever.

In fact, quite the contrary. Check out voteyoursport.com. Here you will learn how Senator Kerry has spent his entire political career attempting to deny all of us sportsmen the rights we so dearly enjoy. Another great site for information on why the Kerry/Edwards ticket is not right for sportsmen can be found by linking here.

Will you be hunting on Election Day? Not a problem…take a moment now to request an absentee ballot. There is only 41 days left before the election…so if you must vote by proxy do it early to make sure it gets done. I think we all learned an important lesson four years ago how EVERY VOTE COUNTS!!! Make sure your voice is heard and rally your friends to take action also. We need George W. Bush back in the White House because it is obvious he is one of us (much more so than Kerry could ever pretend to be).

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.