Fake new, real news, death, sickness, masks, gloves and poor reporting has brought on a general panic. People are now returning to the old days when hunting and fishing supplied meals.
States closing hunting or fishing areas or seasons are widely protested by outdoor enthusiasts and those who think it’s time to hunt and fish again. Many just resent having their sacred time in the outdoors taken away.
We have become dependent on supermarkets for food. A combination of fake news and photos of empty meat coolers at stores has made people rethink the importance of stocking their freezer with wild game meat.
States across America are anticipating at least a 20-percent increase in license sales by fall, meaning more hunters returning to the field. Big game like deer, elk and antelope will be targeted for many as freezer meat.
A rise in license sales is always good – more money for conservation. But large numbers of people returning to the hunt may not be good – for safety reasons.
When was the last time you shot a shotgun or rifle? Safety is always a main concern for people returning to hunting. I highly recommend a hunter’s safety course for people starting to hunt again, no matter how experienced you were in earlier years.
However, everyone should have places to hunt. There are plenty of places developed by local state game and fish commissions and the feds are helping too.
The Trump administration recently announced plans to open 2.3 million acres of land for hunting and fishing at more than 100 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries under a proposal aimed at giving Americans more recreational access on public lands.
A big reason for opening more land for outdoor activities is safe recreation. Ballgames, movies, live theaters and other forms of enjoyment have been shut down, and for good reason. One person in a group with the coronavirus can make many sick. This terrible chain reaction is a threat to everyone.
So, going outside and away from crowds is a great way to relax. Staying in the house and waiting for everything to open up is tough. Many of our elderly sadly understand this too well. The problem with traveling to hunting or fishing spots is stopping at various places. Here are some examples:
FOOD: Food from a drive-through may be taking a chance. That said, many restaurants are making sure their employees are taking all precautions to protect their customers. For example, many are wearing gloves and a mask? Some say that is enough and some claim it is not. Who knows? But you don’t have to eat restaurant food on the road.
We fill our cooler with sandwiches, chips, fruits and whatever for safe meals. This may not be as exciting as fast food, but it could be safer. We, too, wipe down all packaging from grocery stores with disinfectant wipes, not the food, just the packaging.
Some may choose to stop at a roadside table for your cooler lunch. Make sure you wipe down the picnic table, including the seats. You can’t be too careful.
GASOLINE: You can’t drive long distances without gasoline. The possibility of getting this flu virus from a gas pump has long been reported but still worth mentioning. Use some kind of plastic protection when touching any part of a gas pump where other human hands may have touched.
I have watched people using plastic grocery store bags – one of the environment’s biggest enemies, rubber gloves and paper when touching gas station pumps. I have no idea if this is really necessary, but reports say it is. I believe in better safe than sorry.
BATHROOMS: This is a tough one. Many state public toilets at roadside parks are closed. This leaves bathrooms in restaurants and truck stops. Many of these places are scroungy during the best times without epidemics.
But bathroom breaks happen to everyone. I recommend plastic gloves for the entire bathroom visit. Paper seat covers furnished at many public bathrooms should always be used – use toilet paper when the seat covers are not available and touch as few things as possible.
We actually hold on to a paper towel when opening or closing the stall or entrance door. Then throw the towel away in a trash can outside. Finally, have hand sanitizer in your vehicle to wipe on your hands and the steering wheel. You can’t be too careful! This may seem like extreme measures, but many have died from this terrible virus.
Yet, this strange disease has brought more people back to nature and there seems to be a decrease of air pollution in the world because of less vehicles burning fossil fuel. Who knows, maybe this is God’s way of telling us to be more protective of our lands and support sound conservation principles.
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.