Time for another installment of “Yeah, Don’t Do That,” a series of safety tips informed by me hurting myself doing dumb things, then turning pain into lemonade by cautioning others to avoid the same obvious mistakes. Brought to you by aspirin and first aid kits.
In our last episode I tried to lift a large and heavy object with rusty and frayed cable jacks. Good news! The scar on my face is barely noticeable. Really healed up nicely.
Thanks again to the fine folks at Winding Waters Clinic and Wallowa Memorial Hospital. I generally rely on time to heal my wounds, but on occasions when seeing a doctor has seemed called for, our local Wallowa County medical squad has reinforced my gratitude for living in a small town.
Nothing against bigger city hospitals. I have another scar on my face that was stitched up in a Honolulu emergency room. (Yeah, don’t go surfing at night. Makes it difficult to see coral heads).
The sewing done in that big hospital was fine, I just didn’t have the urge to send a thank-you card to the hospital after the fact, as I have here. Nor did I run into the doctor at the grocery store a week later and get to thank them while selecting lettuce.
For this round of “Yeah, Don’t Do That,” we have a special outdoor sporting theme. Archery hunting season recently wrapped up, and I managed to bring home a trophy-sized welt and bruise on my arm this year.
Not to brag, but this thing was impressive. I haven’t had it officially scored, but from initial estimates in the field, I’d say the massive swelling and deep blue and purple coloring should push this bruise into the 360 or 370 category, easy.
Archery equipment has gotten very high tech. My compound bow spits out arrows at around 300 feet per second, and that’s in the slow lane compared to a lot of race car bows on the market.
Carbon arrows are technological marvels, partly because they’re so tough. They can get knocked around plenty and still fly straight. Until they don’t. Here is the warning printed in all caps down the spine of my arrows:
CAUTION: INSPECT COMPLETE ARROW, FLEX AND TWIST EACH SHAFT BEFORE EACH SHOT.
Sound advice, arrow. We’ll revisit this warning here in a little bit.
My hunting quiver carries five arrows. Four are all business. They’re the best I’ve got, and I treat them with care. The fifth arrow gets called up from the farm team of target arrows.
A judo point gets threaded onto the end of this utility arrow. Judos have a blunt end with little wire springs jutting out, the idea being that you can shoot at a rotten stump, clump of dirt, a leaf or whatever while out in the woods.
The wire arms on the judo point grab whatever it contacts, flips the arrow up and you don’t lose your arrow by having it bury itself into whatever you shot at. Shooting judo points is great practice and fun. Like a bow and arrow version of mini golf.
Couple weeks ago, Mike Baird and I had just finished hunting for the day. I pointed and told Mike, “See that clump of dirt over there? Watch this.”
Zing. Off goes the arrow. The clump of dirt was instead a modest coating of dust over a rock. “Ooh, that didn’t sound good,” said Mike.
Circling back to that warning to inspect an arrow before shooting, the lesson for today is that when you know something is probably not safe to use anymore, you should stop using it. I know this now.
I also have a keen understanding of why carbon arrows urge you to inspect them for cracks. I shot that arrow again. It tried to leave my bow at around 300 feet per second, but it couldn’t. Because it broke. Shattered, really, slapping my forearm at somewhere around 300 ouchies per second.
The lump on my forearm looked like I had a tennis ball hiding under my skin. The next day my arm looked like I was hiding a gallon of bruise colored paint under my skin.
So if it’s broke, don’t shoot it. This has been a friendly safety reminder from somebody who knew better but went ahead and did it anyway. So, yeah. Don’t do that.
All you hunters be extra cautious out there, bow or rifle or muzzle loader or whatever. And good luck. Despite my best efforts, I left a bunch of deer and elk out there for you.
Jon Rombach is a Wallowa County-based columnist for the Chieftain.