Hunter Orange and the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
So, in reading the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife hunting pamphlet, I noticed the heavy emphasis on hunter safety. This is an issue that has been growing in emphasis every year since a nearsighted hunter mistook the governor’s pet poodle for a mountain goat. He offered to give the governor the mounted trophy but his stuffy majesty declined.
I am suitably impressed with the requirement to wear a minimum of twenty four hundred square inches of “hunter orange” outer wear. Time was, when a red felt hat was sufficient but the highly educated game in Washington State are wise to red felt hats. It has been demonstrated that the only game animal in Washington State that can’t recognize red felt hats are poodles.
I think it is high time hunters in this state were required to wear bright orange clothing but I would like to point out the disparity between requirements for hunters and the requirements for drivers. For instance, drivers are not required to wear driver orange while operating a motor vehicle on our state’s highways. It doesn’t seem right to me that deer in the woods are given the right to escape the odd hunter but deer on our state’s highways are left to fend for themselves in simply crossing a road. Even our state’s school children are given an array of flashing lights, giant size yellow buses, and occasional police escorts.
I would also like to point out that the Department of Fish and Wildlife has missed some important safety issues. For example, Kevlar helmets. I mean, even construction workers have to wear safety helmets and they are not in near as much danger from falling objects as our state’s sturdy hunters. Just look at how many parts fall off planes in our skies every year. And do any of these parts fall on construction projects? I don’t think so. They fall in the woods. Where do most of our hunters hang out? The woods. Hello! Our hunters need safety helmets. Where are our state’s watchdogs of woodsmen when their cranial health is in danger?
And another thing. I would like to know why the Department is not any more concerned with our intrepid outdoorsmen’s hearing. Don’t they realize that hunters carry guns and guns go off with a loud noise? I think hunters should have to wear ear plugs, or better yet ear plugs inside of ear muffs. Maybe they could find a maker of ear muffs that churns them out in a colorful version of hunter orange.
I would also like to address the issue of foot wear. No self respecting outdoorsman or woman would be caught dead wearing anything but tennis shoes, or casual wear of some sort in the mountains and plains. Well, why would they do that, you ask? Did Daniel Boone wear Georgia wafflestompers? Nope. How about a famous mountainman like Jedidiah Smith? Moccasins. Moccasins made out of deerskin, most likely. And how did they get deerskin? Well, they collected the materials to make their stout footwear before arriving in the future Washington State. Every successful hunter knows you have to tread softly in the woods and sneak up on your quarry. The Department has a solution to the footwear issue, however. Instead of requiring hunters, like they do construction workers, to wear heavy cork soled, high top, steel toed boots, they encourage the growth of moss and ferns. Yep. That’s their idea of killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Provide the hunter with a soft floor of forest duff to walk on and keep the environmentalists happy all in one fell swoop. Now if we could only find a manufacturer of moccasins in a lovely shade of hunter orange.
And then there’s the issue of our intrepid hunter’s eyesight. Why no regulations regarding eyewear? Ever hear the old expression ‘a poke in the eye with a sharp stick’? Now, I ask you, where are you most likely to find a sharp stick? Yep. In the woods. I’m tellin’ ya, hunters need safety glasses. And not those wimpy skimpy plastic affairs they give you in the doctor’s office after an eye exam, either. We’re talking heavy safety glass like my windshield is made from. With a heavy cord firmly attached to the temples and hung around the neck so the glasses can’t get lost in the woods. After all, remember the State’s firm injunction: Litter and it will hurt!
While we’re at it, I’d like to mention the need for gloves. Hunters need gloves. Hunter orange gloves. Ever get a hangnail working the lever on your trusty 30-30? I think I can safely say we have all had that experience. I doubt that would have happened if we had been wearing a government approved pair of double knitted, nylon stitched, wool hunter orange gloves with reversible hunter orange wool inserts for cold mornings and lightweight safety grade hunter orange neoprene for pouring that first cup of coffee from the thermos which your wife forgot to screw the lid on tight.
As all of us experienced hunters know, hot coffee in your lap can be very painful, and the cause of many a fast food lawsuit. So I think the Department would be wise in requiring us all to wear insulated water proof rain pants with a reversible hunter orange lining and sturdy full length zipper. Just think of all the lawsuits that one step alone could prevent.
Every year, many hunters get lost in the deep dark woods of our great state. This results in great expenditures in search dog labor and man hours, helicopter fees, hot chocolate expenses, and replenishment of first aid kits. Given the current state of our high technology I think the Department should require each and every potentially wayward hunter to wear a GPS unit. I can think of nothing more comforting while lost in the woods than to flip a switch, glance down at my backlit AA powered GPS and read in a colorful hunter orange LCD display the exact longitude and latitude of my current location, even though I haven’t the foggiest idea where that could be.
After all these years of packing a heavy 7 to 11 pound rifle in the woods, I can readily attest to the wear and tear this produces on the ligaments and tendons of the wrists, arms and shoulders. In the interest of lessening the burden on the medical establishment, the insurance industry’s paperwork and bank deposit frequency, and we, the hunter people, may I suggest the Department require all hunters to wear those cute but awkward looking support devices for those people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. While the only ones I’ve seen in the local pharmacy are skin colored or black, I’m sure some enterprising individual could come up with a design in hunter orange. While we’re at it, don’t we all need the security of a back brace? I mean, who has not dressed out their deer and found themselves packing something in excess of the State’s firm mandate of forty pounds of meat out of the woods. A back brace like they wear in the local grocery stores, in a bracing hue of hunter orange, of course, should be a necessity if we successful hunters are to avoid the deadly plaque of back injury.
While I readily applaud the State’s efforts in regard to hunter safety, I think it can be said, there are a good many areas that still need to be addressed. In the interest of hunter safety I think we should all get behind the hunter orange mandate in all its aspects. Remember! Only you can prevent accidents in our state’s forests.