Coronavirus Survival Guide for the Outdoorsman
Three months ago, if someone told me I would be advised to “stay at home” during a worldwide epidemic, I would have thought, NO WAY! Now that reality has set in and social distancing is a real thing, I’m going to offer some tips on what you can do during this time of uncertainty. First off, let me be clear that just because an activity occurs outdoors, doesn’t mean there is zero risk of getting the Coronavirus (Covid-19). Here is an example, the walleye run is happening on the Menominee River along the border of Michigan and Wisconsin. Anglers typically crowd the Hattie street bridge hoping to catch the walleye of their lifetime, but when a spot is good, people flock towards it. Here is an article I found about police considering closing the bridge so that people wouldn’t get close to each other: http://www.baycitiesonline.com/news/hattie-st-bridge-fishing-causing-concerns-about-spread-of-covid-19/
We are at a very unique point in the history of our nation. Our ability to obtain protein isn’t as secure as it was in any other time in recent history. We should be able to go acquire our own protein from the great outdoors, but is hunting and fishing a right? We all assume that it is our right to hunt and fish, but the truth is, it is a privilege. Don’t believe me? How about you try hunting public land in Illinois this turkey season… Many states across the US have closed their state to non-resident hunters wishing to fill turkey tags. What if you have your own private land in Illinois? So far, that is still open for hunting, but what if your state agency told you that the season is closed? You have two options, follow the law or disregard the law because it is ridiculous. I would like to think that I would follow the laws, because after all, state wildlife agencies already control our “take” of wildlife, in the form of yearly and/or daily bag limits. Without regard to regulation, we would end up like parts of the world that have overhunted their natural resources to the point of extirpation, which in the short-term stocks our freezer, but in the long term makes our freezer unable to be filled again.
With massive meat packing plants shutting down because of workers becoming infected with Covid-19, the results can be seen at the grocery store where meat supplies are picked clean. It would be naïve to think that all people would follow the rules in regard to limiting their take at a time in our nation when people could be facing hunger. Luckily it hasn’t gotten to that point, but just because someone could get away with shooting a few extra turkeys, doesn’t mean they should. We currently do not have a supply issue, there is still plenty of meat out there, but the problem is our supply chain relies on large commercial packaging facilities to help keep the grocery shelves stocked. I’m not worried because, I rarely buy meat from a grocery store, but what I’m concerned about would be the part of our nation that might shift their meat consumption to wild sources, and might do so in a way that is unorganized, radical, and without regard to other sportsmen. So, what should you do as a law-abiding, rational sportsman? Keep on doing what you do best. Set an example of what a good hunter/gatherer should look like and keep your deer herd as healthy as you normally do. That includes supplementing the herd with minerals in the growing season and proteins in the dormant season. If you planted food plots in the past, keep up the good work.
If you managed habitat for healthy wildlife populations, stay on track with your objectives. If you turkey hunt, try going without a ground blind and if you go with someone else, keep your distance. If you must hunt in a ground blind, make sure you wear your facemask and be cognizant of ways to limit potential exposure to other people. If you can get by without stopping at the gas station, then don’t. Don’t go to counties that are hot spots of infectivity and return to places with low infection rates. Try to recreate closer to your home. If you were planning a cross state trip for turkey hunting, maybe try finding land closer to home to hunt. If we all do our part, this lock-down happy government will ease restrictions, eventually, and we need to be smart how we act when the lockdowns are lifted, or we will see another spike in infection rates. Stay safe out there everyone, and good luck turkey hunting this spring!