We all do it. We all take careless and unnecessary chances in our lives. I can’t count how many times I have switched lanes on the highway without fully turning my head to the rear and getting a good look to verify I had room and that I would not be competing with any other vehicles. Or there are the times when I do check for lane clearance, but I might wait a few seconds before changing lanes all the while assuming that no speeding car had suddenly showed up in my blind spot and was occupying the space I was moving into. We all do it, but we don’t have to.

I have a bad habit of putting things in my pocket. Sometimes, I have placed pencils and pens in front and back pockets and forgot all about them for hours. Bad things could have happened, but I have been lucky. While doing taxidermy for over 20 years and in moments of having my hands full, I have accidently placed scalpels and knives on my chair between my legs for long periods of time and forgotten about them. Bad things could have happened, but they never did.

I can’t count the times I have stood on chairs or ladders to accomplish common tasks. Did I double check and make sure the ladders were totally safe and secure before trusting them with my life? Not always. Did I double check those chairs to make sure they were solid in construction and sound in design? Nope.

How about the times that I have been hunting and dismissed an errant gun barrel pointed at me from a friend or hunting buddy, just because the incident only lasted a millisecond? Then there are all the steps taken on loose or wet rocks.  What about the walking or standing under large trees during windy conditions, and knowing there could be widow-makers up there waiting for a chance to strike?

The truth is that most accidents aren’t accidents.  They are momentary inattention or outright mistakes. Of the statistics that I could find that are reliable, approximately 100 people are killed every year in hunting accidents (in the U.S.) Some are gun accidents; some are tree stand accidents, drowning, exposure, or animal attack. More people are injured every year. Personally, I scoffed at safety straps until I fell out of a tree stand. The only reason I survived was that I had only set my tree stand eight feet high (I was young and dumb).  The experience taught me to wear a safety strap especially since I’ve been known to fall asleep at much greater heights.

When you think about it, how many possible accidents have you avoided or experienced in your life? We all take chances every day, but we don’t have to.  Safe hunting!