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Top 7 Dangers In The Backcountry

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The seven most common dangers headed your way in the backcountry and how to avoid them.

In the Backcountry issue of EBJ (Jul/Aug 2016) we will explore the seven most common, deadly backcountry dangers, how to avoid them and what to do if you happen to find yourself staring one of them down face-to-face. Those seven deadly dangers are but not limited to:

  1. Hypothermia The silent killer. More than 1,300 Americans per year die from exposure to the elements when their core body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This backcountry assassin is the 25th most readily available killer in the United States. Don’t be caught off guard like Napoleon’s 1812 army.
  2. Firearm Accident- Accidental discharge from a high-powered firearm can be a very lethal but extremely preventable killer in the backcountry. Shear avoidance through education and caution is the key to keeping off this CDC statistic list.
  3. Fall/Horse Accidents- A fall from a cliff or a horse in the backcountry can be debilitating and downright deadly. A basic education in backcountry first aid can often keep a fall from becoming a body bag extraction by heli.
  4. Extreme Knife Lacerations- A sharp knife plunged clean to the handle in your thigh can end more than your hunt. There is no helicopter fast enough to beat this life and death timeline as your femoral artery pumps what’s left of your life onto the side of a mountain in about three minutes flat. Education, caution and basic first aid on a MacGyver-type level can keep you alive to hunt another day.
  5. Lightning Strike- Zap, Crack, Bang!!! The up-close and personal experience of an electrical storm at 12,000 feet can change your life. The likelihood of getting struck by lightning on a high country ridgeline in September can increase exponentially. Get smart about how to avoid being cooked from the inside out by Mother Nature’s high voltage furry.
  6. Grizzly (Bear) Attack- Watch the first 15 minutes of the movie, “The Revenant.” This is exactly what happens when a good hunt goes bad with a grizzly bear. Learn how to hedge your bets as to not get caught off guard by a big, pissed off bruin on your next elk hunt.
  7. Carbon Monoxide Poison- Two guys hunkered down in the their tent and sleeping bags during an October snow storm at 10,000 feet. They turn on a small lantern to warm up the nylon cavity. The brothers are found three days later frozen solid as a rock with smiles on their faces. True story. Learn how to come home to your wife and kids with a smile on your face after a freak snowstorm minus the body bag.  

For an expanded read that may save your life in the backcountry this fall make sure you read this very valuable and potentially life saving article before you head out on your next backcountry-hunting excursion. Your life could depend on it.


About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Ken Anderson

    I think a great follow-up to this story would be “7 things you should know or carry with you to avoid becoming a backcountry casualty”

  2. Why the grizzly phobia?! You’re more likely to be struck by lightning. There have only been 10 fatal grizzly attacks in the 2000’s in all of Canada and the US. Yet, there are millions of people who enjoy the backcountry. In fact, more people have perished due to dog attacks in the same period of time.

  3. One should be going into the Back Country un-prepared. The “back country” starts 100 feet from the car/tent door…don’t be a statistic

  4. I would add Dehydration: leading to poor judgement, then fatal decisions…

  5. I would agree dehydration not only from sweating but also from getting dysentery from tainted unfiltered water. And let’s not forget a cardiac event from people who don’t routinely hunt the back country but decide to go out for their once in life time elk mule dear hunt and succumb to the rigors of mountain hunting.

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