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Hunt in good health

Compared with Colorado’s other popular recreational activities, hunting causes relatively few injuries and fatalities, statistics indicate.

But staying safe isn’t an accident. Hunters must be careful and go prepared when they venture into the Colorado backcountry.

Heart attacks, altitude sickness, hypothermia and dehydration top the list of concerns for hunters, especially those coming from lower altitudes.



“Depending on their health and age, it can lay the groundwork for a heart attack,” said Beth Watson, who is a public health nurse at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. “Hunting is a lot more exercise than what they might think it is. It really is a lot more than everyday activities.”

Watson recommends that hunters carry cell phones so if an emergency does happen, the hunting party can call 911. Another essential is a well-stocked first aid kit.



It also is a good idea to have a person in the group who knows first aid and CPR, Watson said.

With the elevation in North–west Colorado ranging from 6,000 to 12,000 feet, altitude sickness is a concern for those coming from out of state. Acute mountain sickness is the most common form of altitude sickness and can occur as low as 6,500 square feet.

Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton encourages hunters to come out to Colorado a few days before their hunting trips begins to get acclimated.

Hunters should remember to drink plenty of water. Water loss is greatly increased by breathing the dry air at high altitudes, and dehydration can worsen altitude sickness. Drinking alcohol also could worsen dehydration.

Eating foods with lots of carbohydrates and frequent small meals helps with dehydration.

Another must for hunters is being prepared for Northwest Colorado’s unpredictable weather.

“The mountains in Colorado have very diverse weather, so it can be warm one day and snowing and below freezing the next day,” Hampton said.

Watson said hunters also should remember basic hygiene in the woods. Washing hands with soap is important, as is filtering and boiling water from mountain streams. n


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