Sportsman’s Corner

  • Dinah, Laney and columnist Mike Roche in New York last October at grouse camp, shown with a pair of grouse and a pair of woodcock.  —Mike Roche

Published: 9/5/2019 9:39:16 PM
Modified: 9/5/2019 9:39:06 PM

While getting my things in order for fall hunting seasons, the matter of a first aid kit got me thinking. Over the years, there have been issues with both hunters and dogs that needed to be addressed immediately. First, and most importantly, dog matters. In my time running bird dogs the usual encounters with porcupines, skunks, barbed wire, glass and other sharp objects as well as dogs that won’t eat or suffer from diarrhea and vomiting have all happened.

A few years back, Dinah cut her paw severely and was spurting blood. Fortunately, there is always a bandana in my rear pocket, and it served as tourniquet until she was carried back to the truck. The first aid kit had medical sponges and tape and we were able to stop and control the bleeding until we got the vet, 45 minutes later. The new trauma products like Superglue to close wounds or wound closure products developed for the military are available but it is usually sufficient to apply pressure and keep the wound as clean as possible.

Last year, a dog got into a porcupine during the RGS hunt and another passed out. Keeping a good pair of needle-nosed pliers is always a good idea and if you know what you are doing, you can usually remove most if not all of the quills. That does not work when they are in sensitive places like the tongue and sometimes the dog must be quieted and quickly brought to a vet. There are concentrated glucose products to use if a dog becomes weak from over exertion.

A most important item to include is hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if your dog eats something they should not. With Laney, this writer has become an expert on “when dogs eat bad things” and I am never without it!

Fortunately, there are now companies specializing in hunting dog first aid and they have kits stocked with essential items to use when faced with a canine medical emergency or to just treat the normal “wear and tear’ issues dogs develop when hunting. Having the right supplies can save the day or the season. My research found a couple of companies with excellent kits. Both Gun Dog Supply and Kurgo feature a number of kits that will give you what you need for canine first aid.

For people, a well-stocked first aid kit can also save the day. Band-Aids, ACE bandages and medical tape are staples but aspirin, cold meds, anti-acids and Imodium can all save the day as it is no fun when you are not feeling up to snuff. You should also have your personal meds with you, particularly those of us with cardiac history or other conditions which can flare up in the field. My kit also always includes a night-time pain medicine with Benadryl. In combination with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, they make getting good night’s sleep much easier after a tough day of hunting.

You can make a sling if needed from the afore-mentioned bandana and also use it with a branch for a splint to stabilize a limb. Band-Aids should always be kept in your wallet as there is nothing more irritating than being plagued by a small cut that won’t stop bleeding and since so many people take aspirin or other blood thinners you can trickle blood all day.

Every vehicle should also have a “space blanket” for a number of purposes. If you are stuck in your car or truck it will keep you comfortable, no matter how cold it gets. It will also keep up the body temperature of a person or dog that is going into shock. They are really inexpensive and fold up so small there is no excuse to not have one available.

Certainly, we hope that nothing befalls you, your hunting companions, or your dog but it is always better to be prepared. A good first aid kit and the other items are not expensive and can really save the day.

It was back to the Franklin County League skeet fields again Sunday, this time using the 20-gauge Ruger Red Label. Whether it was the larger gauge’s bigger shot patterns or just having a little more experience, more targets were broken, including most of the tough passing shots at the middle stations. My score did not approach those of the more experienced shooters, who lament a single dropped bird, but it was a fun excursion as the company is always pleasant and the weather was perfect.

The early goose season is under way and will run until Sept. 25. The “nuisance goose” regulations include a liberal bag limit of fifteen and, for this season only, extended hunting hours until one half hour after sunset. The regular waterfowl season opens in the Central Zone on Oct. 14, the Berkshire Zone on Oct. 12 and the Coastal Zone on Oct. 11.

For upland enthusiasts like myself, bird seasons will be opening soon as well. New York opens the northern zone for grouse on Sept. 20 and woodcock on Oct. 1. Woodcock seasons are set according to the frameworks provided by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and do not coincide with upland birds in most states. Maine and Vermont both open ruffed grouse season (AKA partridge) on Sept. 28 with woodcock opening on Oct. 1. New Hampshire opens pheasant, grouse, and woodcock on Oct. 1. Here in the Bay State, pheasant and grouse open Oct. 19 and woodcock open Oct. 4.

The early grouse opener in New York is tempting and we did head out last year in September. My memory of the hunt was reinforced when I read the column written after the trip. It was hot and the vegetation was extremely dense, making it tough going for both dogs and hunter. We will need to make a decision soon about an early trip. We will see!

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