The other guy might be you — be safe

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I have been called several things over the years, none of them having anything to do with careful and athletic.

In fact, the two words that best describe my attributes would be careless and clumsy, both of which when combined, might be why I am now recovering from one more outdoor induced injury.

And that’s exactly why I am compelled to describe a few of my best “not-my-fault” injuries associated with personal outdoor pursuits in an attempt to caution all my co-hunter and fisher readers to be aware that it doesn’t always happen to the other guy.

I’ve intentionally avoided any sort of sick humor in the following paragraphs in case any reader might have ribs that hurt as bad as mine.

Ladder stand

Several years back I discovered a ladder stand in a wooded corner of a new property which I was looking forward to hunting.

The stand had been abandoned but appeared to be in fairly good shape and in fact was in an ideal spot that looked out over an isolated crop field. Of course, I wanted to see just how safe the stand was and whether I would need to do any trimming to have clear shooting lanes.

I proceeded to test each step and slowly climbed. You know the rest. I didn’t fall but did hang briefly by one arm, my right, the one that required several sessions of physical therapy and still flairs up from reminders of that act of stupidity.

That’s when I first discovered the other guy might be me.

Western trip

Then there was a long-anticipated western trip. The Colorado Rockies surrounded us with an awesome pallet of reds, yellows, and greens we followed a twisted trail on a long horseback pack trip to our drop camp at 10,000 feet. The mountains were alive with color lit by a late autumn sun.

We were almost to our camp when I dropped a map that I was tracking and stopped to pick it up. The first step was apparently on a tuft of grass that gave way and twisted my ankle in a way it wasn’t designed for. This was on day one of a week-long elk hunt.

The injury meant a week of torn T-shirt wraps, tighter than tight boot laces, and limited walking.

Back in Ohio, the ankle was declared broken as well as sprained. And yes, the other guy syndrome was becoming even more evident.

Other injuries

A couple years after that an early summer bass fishing trip was cut short when my foot slipped off the edge of a dock, banged hard into a boat seat base and produced a very large, textbook hematoma on my calf.

This one brought all sorts of admiration and descriptive adjectives from more than a few doctors who looked at it, one who actually sliced it open looking for clots. The half of a tennis ball would be a nice description.

Just recently I tripped in the woods while toting two armloads of pieces and parts belonging to a game feeder. This time I found out just how badly bruised ribs can feel.

Oh, there’s more. Lots more. Fish hooks, smashed fingers and toes, that common stuff.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m suggesting that all of us need to take a good hard look at our outdoor endeavors and add a degree of caution as we enjoy each day afield or on the water.

We, you and I, are the other guys, or girls. Be safe. Don’t be careless and clumsy.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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