Spring time brings changes we, as outdoorsmen, all look forward to and enjoy. Warm weather and spring rains bring our outdoors to life. Suddenly barren trees are alive with new growth, ground is covered with greenery that laid dormant during the winter months.
While this sudden change in our outdoor environment can be a motivator to pick up our outdoor activities, we need to be sure and take the precautions that these changes bring. When going outdoors to your favorite fishing hole, walking your hunting property, hiking, or camping remember some simple rules:
1. Bugs are loose. Make sure you take bug spray with you, whether on the water or in the woods.Our best days afield can be annoying when you are constantly harassed by mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and the like. Ticks love to perch on new growth grasses and weeds. Chiggers or red bugs do the same and take great satisfaction in making meals out of our legs. Bug spray will help keep the pests away.
2. Snakes are active. While I always feel we are blessed with the outdoors we have available to us, I'm also aware that the same outdoors can be hazardous. I'm thinking snakes of the poisonous variety. We have more than our share of varieties throughout the Southeast. They become very active when spring warms the woods and waters. While I'm not a proponent of killing every snake we see, I am aware that they do pose a real hazard. Take steps to limit your possible contact with snakes. Wear proper leggings and boots when you know you'll be walking around tall grass. Be aware of where you step, particularly if you decide to walk off the "beaten path". Don't put your hands anywhere around dead logs or woodpiles without first checking to ensure there are no dangerous residents (that also includes spiders which can be dangerous). If you see a snake don't do anything to provoke it. The speed of snake strikes is amazing. Leave them alone, enjoy your observation of them and simply walk away.
3. Yellow Jackets love to nest in the ground. I've been guilty more than once of "accidentally" stepping on a yellow jacket nest, only to be stung a number of times before escaping. Again, simply be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes focused on where you are going. On the water anglers may often find hornets nests hanging off limbs of trees that spread over the water. Like yellow jackets, hornets are very territorial and may decide you and your boat or companions are getting too close to their neighborhood. Again,enjoy the view from afar and you won't find yourself coming home with welts.
4. Poisonous plants are in the growth mode. Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Sumac and other plants that can cause various degrees of irritation are growing with the season. Become familiar with how to identify these plants and don't believe for a moment that you're not "allergic" to the plants.There are products available today that can remove the irritating sap that contact may bring and prevent an outbreak caused by these saps. Visit your local pharmacy and you will find these products. One I keep handy is a"protective" lotion that coats the skin and prevents the sap from adhering to the body.
5. Protect yourself from overexposure to the sun. Sunburn can ruin an outing quicker than anything else I know of. While temperatures may still be moderate, the sun's rays can be intense, especially if you are on the water. Keep sun screen handy and apply it liberally. Make sure it provides enough UV protection to prevent sun burn. Don't forget to also protect your eyes from exposure to the bright sun. A good pair of sun glasses with a high UV rating does not cost an arm and a leg and will protect you from the bright light.
These are pretty basic rules to consider when enjoying the springtime out of doors. While I'm sure I missed some additional rules, following these will help make your outdoor experience this spring an enjoyable one.