Let’s face it, hunting poses a lot of risks.  Not only do you run the risk of getting shot by a inexperienced hunter, but you could get lost in the woods, twist an ankle or suffer a serious case of indigestion from one of those deer-camp dinners.

hunting at sunsetThen there are critters — the kind that want to scratch you, bite you and sometimes eat you. Phew! You might say that hunting can be Mother Nature’s time of the month. But here are some dangers that we, as hunters, don’t always think about.

Avian Flu: Infected birds can make your life miserable with that ailment. Hanta Virus: That one comes with deer mice. Tularemia: Infected rabbits carry that nasty bug. Plague: Yes, prairie dogs have been known to carry plague. Rabies: Lots of critters can carry that one. Lyme Disease and Spotted Fever: Leave it to ticks to pass theses along.  Tape and flat worms: Sorry hunters, those can accompany some game meats. Chronic Wasting Disease: It’s a close relative to Mad Cow Disease that affects the deer family.

So how do we protect ourselves against all these frightening ailments. Let’s start with Avian Flu. Don’t shoot at or handle waterfowl that look sick or behave in unusual ways. As a precaution against Hanta Virus, stay out of structures where you see mice droppings. Use a wet, soapy mop with 10% bleach when cleaning out your hunting cabn. Avoid sleeping on the bare ground. If you plink a prairie dog, don’t touch the remains. Protect yourself against rabies by avoiding animals that look or act strangely.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been documented in 17 states and two Canadian provinces. For deer and elk, the disease is always fatal. Even though CWD is closely related to Mad Cow Disease, there has never been any evidence to indicate that the disease can be transferred to humans. However, in states where CWD occurs, fish and game agencies recommend that hunters wear latex gloves while field dressing.

Most wild animals carry a variety of external and internal parasites. Like humans, they are subject to a variety of diseases. Our best defense is prevention. During warm seasons of the year, apply Deet to unprotected skin, especially at dawn or dusk to prevent mosquito bites. Prevent tick bites by wearing long sleeves and pant legs. Check yourself at the end of each day in the field. Avoid contact with sick animals. Wear protective gloves when field-dressing game, and cook your meat well.