ESCANABA - If most people with a handle on history were asked what the significance of 11/11/11 would mean to them, a quick answer would be how, one hundred years ago on November 11, 1911, the "Great Blue Norther" hit the Midwestern United States.
On this day in history, cities went from record high late morning temperatures to absolute lows in the evening, some records that remain today.
As an example, Springfield, Illinois reached a high of 80 degrees and sixteen hours later chilled at 13 degrees.
There were nine tornados that hit the states of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. An F4 tornado hit Janesville, Wisconsin during the day. Within an hour those working to clean up were in blizzard conditions and temperatures were hovering around zero.
Some ponder if it will happen again.
If guys like me are asked about this date, our response regarding its historical significance will be to the point. "Sure I know, it's only four days to deer season!"
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.
It is the weekend before the start of the 2011 Michigan Firearm Deer Hunting Season and time to focus once again on what's important in preparation as we go afield, some of us for the first time this year.
It seems that I hear hunters say more and more often that they just didn't have as much time in the woods this year as they've had in the past. Maybe they'd been out to the blind to see if it is still standing but couldn't afford the time to scout or check conditions and movement. Family responsibilities and providing an income to support your lives is more intense now than it used to be. It is this alteration in focus that can be cause for concern, especially with regard to safety.
One of the fundamental rules before going out to hunt is to make a plan. Tell those at home or camp where you are going and what time you intend to return.
At my camp we have a topographical map of the area and a mark on it for each established blind. We also know the sections and if someone is still hunting public land, we'll even travel out to where they'll be to know the terrain especially if they put up a blind or scaffold.
Speaking of blinds and scaffolds, if you do place one on public land it must have your name and address permanently affixed to all sides.
Those type I, II, III ground blinds cannot be legally placed on public land until Nov. 6. The rationale for this was to reduce the frequency of turf disputes. Prior to the ruling, some individuals would claim the area open to the public as their exclusive spot. Retaliation for encroachment had been on the rise prior the rule change.
If you are using an elevated platform (scaffold), check it over before putting it up. Make sure there are no stress cracks on the welded joints and that the tie straps are free of rot. Clear the ground below to be free of small stumps that had been cut. Falling onto one of them could leave you impaled. Also try not to use an anchor tree with a profound trunk root base. Those also cause injury from blunt trauma (i.e. Broken ankles legs and back injuries).
Wear a full body harness while on a scaffold. There are several newer versions out that have break-away extension and provide a slow release if you fall. It is no longer advisable to use a single strap but if you do, make sure to place it under your arms around the upper chest. By putting it at waist level, a fall could be deadly. Placement at the belt line quickly causes a squeezing pressure on the diaphragm and restricts breathing.
Make sure you have a lift cord to raise and lower an unloaded firearm and dress appropriately for the weather.
If you are fortunate enough to bag a deer, don't physically tax yourself if you're not in good condition to do so. Many heart attacks have occurred when hunters attempt to drag a deer and are not physically fit.
I hear some hunters complain about the rule of blaze orange being a required garment while hunting, especially when they are seated in a blind. The issue isn't so much about being concealed in the blind as much as it is forgetting to put a hat, cap, jacket or vest on once you leave.
Michigan hunters continue to be on top of the list as safe sportsmen and women. The requirement for hunter safety education for anyone born after January 1, 1960 and the blaze orange law have contributed significantly to this. You may not take a chance shot at a deer, but someone else might and that's why it is best to be safe and be identified as a hunter.
Another key focus in being prepared for the hunt is to make up a day pack of products that can have multi-purpose uses, just in case there is a problem.
I don't care how many years you've hunted the same spot or area, there is still a chance that you'll get turned around. You may get wet or injured and need the companionship of a camp fire to get warm and dry. You may get a cut or scrape so a basic first aid kit would be advised as part of your day pack. A bottle or two of water should also be part of the list.
Lastly, a compass or GPS, flashlight, and signal mirror (an old discarded CD will work), length of rope and poncho or sheet of vinyl for shelter will round out some of the items necessary to get out of a jam.
If a serious problem does occur, remember that the first link in the chain of survival is 911. If you use a cell phone, try to say on line with the dispatch center so they can attempt to GPS you for location. They can also determine who should be called and what equipment should be deployed to make a timely rescue.
I hope you all have a safe and happy hunt this deer season.