Firearms Safety – It’s No Accident By Design

FirearmssafetypatchIt was 30 years ago when I first took firearms safety as a 12-year old.   Notice how I mentioned I FIRST took firearms safety.   That’s right…during the years since I first stepped into a firearms safety class as a youth, I have voluntarily refreshed the class as recently as 12 years ago as an adult.   Why?   Because the fact is you are never too old or too experienced handling guns to forget the all-important lessons learned from this class.

Today I was reminded of that experience when a good friend of mine, John Maki, stopped by to visit me in my office.   You see, John is one of the local volunteer firearms safety instructors and for the past two years I have donated a plaque recognizing an outstanding youngster from his most recent training class.   While the award certainly recognizes a youngster and their classroom achievement…it also gives the local sportsman’s club a chance to get some valuable publicity in promoting this vital community training.

After John left my office I started to think about all these tireless volunteers from around the country who spend their free time passing on these critical and very necessary gun skills.   To many kids, this is the first introduction they will have to conservation practices as well as to the proper handling of firearms.   These instructors are burdened with the awesome responsibility of inspiring the youth of today into becoming the safe, gun-handling adults of tomorrow.   For most people, it may be their first and the last time they are ever exposed to formal education in the proper handling techniques of firearms.   Indeed, it takes a special instructor to impact a person’s life so effectively that they recognize and maintain these important lessons over a lifetime.

I pay tribute to John because 30 years ago he was also one of my firearms safety instructors.   I can vividly remember sitting in his class as if it happened just yesterday with him talking about compound bows and the many wonders of hunting with archery equipment.   I dare say there are few other classes from school I can recall with the same mental clarity…but when it came to the fun lessons of becoming a responsible youth learning about the outdoors and the equipment hunters use…I was all eyes and ears for the lessons he taught.   John’s message not only captured my attention, but the skills he was carefully promoting also captured my imagination for how I saw myself developing as a sportsman hunter.

Even though many kudos can certainly be paid to folks like John and thousands of dedicated instructors like him from across the country…this message is not solely about his individual efforts.   Instead, I want to emphasize how the hunting community as a whole owes this special fraternity of volunteer firearms safety instructors a debt of gratitude for doing the work we often take for granted.   Firearms safety training, from the perspective of the instructor, takes a patience and skill in relating to youth that is nothing short of commendable, as far as I’m concerned.

When you consider how the typical instructor touches hundreds, if not thousands, of students over their teaching career…it becomes an awesome responsibility.   In many ways, this person is the gatekeeper of continuing our unique outdoor heritage.   If we fail to introduce the youth of today to the proper handling and understanding of the “tools of the trade,” they can never be expected to fully appreciate and respect the skills necessary to become a safe sportsman.

I might suggest that if you don’t personally know who teaches firearms safety in your community you should make an effort to get to know this person.   Offer to be a resource person willing to assist as needed.   Even sitting in on the classes when you don’t have to sends a message showing these young, impressionable minds how important firearms safety is no matter at what stage you are at in your hunting career.

No doubt about it 30 years ago when John described his passion for bowhunting he planted a seed in my mind on that day that continues to grow even as of today.   I doubt he fully realized it at the time…and probably doesn’t comprehend just how important that effort was even today.   But every budding sportsman needs a good mentor as a role model…and I believe for most youth it begins with the very capable instructors in the firearms safety class…and then later it continues with the family and the friends who must constantly reinforce each of those safety lessons once learned.


International Hunter Education Association (features links to all state programs)

© 2005 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.

Know Your Ticks…And Understand The Diseases

Back in the days of my youth wood ticks were nothing more than a nuisance of spring and early summer…but somewhere along the way as I got older things seemed to get a whole lot more complicated with these little buggers.   Indeed, the common wood tick is becoming a 21st Century menace of dangerous proportions to outdoors folks in many areas of the country.
As a kid, I knew of the dangers from the creepy crawly little pest.   We knew it transferred Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever…but the fact is to a small child in rural Minnesota my chances of contracting this ailment seemed about as likely as my parents traveling to Vegas and winning enough money to pay off the farm mortgage.   Sure it could happen…but the odds were simply too astronomically high to really worry about this health malady.

Such is certainly not the case today.   In fact, the more we learn about the common wood tick (and its host of cousins, such as the deer tick, etc.) the more we discover that this pest is actually a carrier of some down-right nasty diseases.   Diseases that left unrecognized could permanently debilitate you and at worse…could kill you.

In today’s Minneapolis StarTribune there’s a good article about a deputy sheriff in Northern Minnesota who had a triple whammy, of sorts.   This poor individual came so close to dying as a result of ticks that it’s truly a miracle he’s still alive today.   Check it out by linking here.

For the balance of today’s blog, I want to review the different diseases these ticks carry and also highlight some of the more common symptoms (by linking to the disease).   I’m not going to harp on preventative measures…as I think we all know what needs to be done.   Check!  Check!  Check!   Also liberally use some of the great repellents much like you would spray your clothes for mosquitoes.

The common tick-borne diseases include (sourced from

  • Lyme disease.   Symptoms usually start 1 to 4 weeks after the tick bite, with up to 90% of people developing an expanding, circular red skin rash.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever.   Symptoms usually start 3 to 12 days (average 7 days) after the tick bite.
  • Tularemia.   Symptoms usually start within 21 days (average 1 to 10 days) after the tick bite or other exposure.
  • Ehrlichiosis.   Symptoms usually start from 1 to 21 days (average of 7 days) after the tick bite.
  • Relapsing fever.   Symptoms usually start 3 to 11 days (average of 6 days) after the tick bite.
  • Colorado tick fever.   Symptoms usually start within 14 days (average of 3 to 6 days) of the tick bite.
  • Babesiosis.   Symptoms usually start 1 to 6 weeks after the tick bite

The important thing is to remove the ticks promptly and carefully.   There are many good methods for doing this…but most often you want to remove the ENTIRE tick.   Don’t use a match to burn the tick.   Likewise, rubbing nail polish or Vaseline on the tick does not always result in an effective, clean removal.   Finally, be sure to thoroughly wash the infected area with soap.

My technique of choice is to simply grab the tick and apply gentle, constant pressure pulling away from site of attachment.   I don’t pull too hard so that the tick’s head breaks off and remains attached to the skin.   Instead, my main goal is to play a sort of tug-o-war type of game with the tick hoping that eventually it will lose its grip.   If it takes a minute or two to accomplish this…so be it.   In this case patience is a virtue when it comes to proper tick removal.

Sometimes I wonder if ticks are actually carrying more diseases these days or if through the marvels of medical science we are simply discovering more tick-borne illnesses we never knew previously existed.   Whatever the case…if you’re a sportsman who spends time in tick country you owe it to your good health to do a complete inspection after every outing.   Might I recommend taking an opposite-sex buddy with you that you might later want to get naked with…it makes the tedious task of finding ticks a lot more fun.

© 2005 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

In-Fisherman Magazine Turns 30

This week the 30th Anniversary Edition of the In-Fisherman Magazine goes on sale at newsstands around the country…but why is this milestone of any importance to sportsmen?   Quite frankly, it was the foresight of brothers Lindner who helped to revolutionize the process and the science behind the way many of us go fishing.
As the fishing industry grew there was also a need to satiate the growing thirst for knowledge that permeated throughout the outdoors world.   For deer hunters it was a group in Wisconsin called Stump Sitters who eventually parlayed this deep desire to learn everything about deer into a club, of sorts, to share experiences and blend knowledge.   Eventually, this effort evolved into the magazine now called Deer and Deer Hunting.   But for fishermen nothing could ring more credible than the wisdom spewed forth in In-Fisherman published by the Lindner Brothers of Bemidji, Minnesota.

You see, the Lindner Brothers were well on their way to making a name for themselves even before they published their first written article.   In Northern Minnesota the name Lindner quickly became synonymous with success even way back in the early 70s.   In fact, these brothers started dabbling in producing fishing-related TV shows dating way back to 1970.   Their uncanny ability to mix fishing fun with hardcore fishing science paved the way for these pioneers of fishing to permanently make a mark in the fishing world.

As fishing lure manufacturers (Lindy Tackle – Lindy Rig, etc.), to publishers of books, magazines, TV, radio, videos, websites…the Linder Brothers really have done it all.   And perhaps most notable of all is that after nearly four decades in the industry their reputation and energy is still going strong, where many others have often failed.

Ever since the early days the credo at In-Fisherman was to conduct the research out on the water…and that’s what they did best.   The Lindners resisted the temptation of burying their noses into books or research articles and instead opted to do the research themselves…on the water…with fishing reel in hand.   On average they would log over 200 days each year using fishing experience as their best teacher to prove or disprove their theories.

Today, as I understand it, the Lindner Brothers no longer own their multimedia enterprise known as In-Fisherman.   They sold that a few years back to Primedia, Inc. a large New York-based media giant.   Still, many of the same old influences that were present way back in the beginning continue to help make up a part of In-Fisherman yet today.

The Lindners, however, have now embarked on a new venture called Angler’s Edge which has much of the same flavor of their old venture producing quality TV Shows and videos, but now you can also see a more open reference to their Christianity faith.

To many of us the In-Fisherman will always be about a couple of brothers from Chicago who grew fed up with big city life and moved to Northern Minnesota to begin their fishing education empire.   Unfortunately, as so often happens when success blossoms, that empire grew so big that the brothers were actually spending more time catering to the business than casting for the fish.   Hence, the sale of their business to begin life anew.

As we reflect back on the past 30 years of knowledge printed in In-Fisherman…it’s more a celebration of Al, Ron and Jeff Lindner’s dream of mixing science with a sport that mysteriously was taking place underwater where we could not see the action.   What we now take for granted as fishing fact was once cutting edge knowledge some 25 to 30 years ago.   Thanks largely to the Lindners; they taught us all how fishing can not only be a fun activity, but also a never-ending learning opportunity.

© 2005 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.