I've often joked that every time I leave my house a "red alert" goes off in heaven.
My son declares that my angels must love adventure because he doesn't know of anyone else who gets in so many scrapes. I have to agree; I keep them busy, that's for sure.
It's a rare instance that a fawn is really orphaned when you come upon one cowering in the brush. No doubt its mother is nearby and she has taught her offspring to crouch and be still when a predator approaches. Just let the fawn alone and all will be well.
My hunting buddies in the Poconos called me the other day and told me how when they were haying, they had to stop four times to mow around the hiding places of the fawns. They didn't handle them, just let them alone, and the next day, all four of them were gone, no doubt removed by their respective does.
There is always the danger of rattlesnakes. There are some myths out there concerning snakes, one of them being that a rattler will always rattle to warn you of its presence and that they smell of cucumbers. Both of these are untrue. If you do a lot of walking around in the woods in the summer, and I do, you must be constantly surveying the area in front of you, looking for snakes.
I carry a long stick and beat the path out in front of me as I go, if I'm walking in high grass. Rattlers often lie in high grass and it is easy to get right up to one before it moves. I know, because I've done it more times than I can count. Never step over a log until you carefully survey what is under the log or just on the other side. Snakes love to lay under fallen logs to escape the sun and to watch for prey.
Of course, ticks and other insects, including bees are everywhere during the summer. I have a friend who was bitten by a brown recluse spider. He spent weeks in the hospital and more weeks off work because of the after effects of the bite. The most effective repellent for ticks I have ever found is a spray called Permanone.
There are dogs in the woods most all the time. Some are "wild" that is, someone just dropped them off and they are surviving by hunting in the woods. They seldom take kindly to an intrusion of their space by a human. Other dogs, and I suspect the ones that came for me are in this category, are farm dogs that are allowed to run free. It's surprising how many dog owners will swear their Rover "would never" chase deer and other wildlife but the fact is they will. It's instinctive with a dog to chase. Even if he does get a daily dish of Purina.
A few years ago I visited my son in Missouri. He lives so far in the boonies you need a map and compass to find it. I decided to take a walk one morning in the woods behind his house.
I was skirting around the edge of the clearing, headed for the next patch of woods where a gobbler was sounding off from the roost, when I spotted the tail and rear end of a dog disappear into the weeds in the upper section of the clearing. Quickly, I stepped into the woods and flattened myself against a tree, hoping the dog had not seen me. What I did not need was to meet a strange dog in the woods.
But the dog had seen me and it whirled and came charging toward me, barking and snarling. Then two more dogs emerged from the woods and they all came charging toward me, growling and barking. I was instantly terrified!
Acting only on instinct, I stepped out of the woods and confronted the dogs. I waved my arms and yelled at them in my loudest, nastiest voice! To my utter amazement, the three dogs whirled and ran. They must have thought they had just seen the scariest monster in the woods.
Summertime hiking and scouting is best done from trails where you can see what is ahead of you. Parading around in high grass or weeds or ferns is to invite attack from whatever is hiding beneath the foliage.
I've had close calls with bears. I've told often of the bear that once sat at the bottom of a tree I was in during archery season. Then there was the fox that thought my pre-dawn soft hen calls were going to lead him to his breakfast. I sensed his presence and pivoted just slightly to see him in the crouch position, ready to pounce on me.
No more surprised fox ever existed and he wasted no time getting out of there. But it was a close call. Had that fox jumped on me, I would have reacted instinctively and no doubt been bitten/scratched in the process. Then I'd probably have been subjected to the rabies shots.
This year, the Game Commission has reported several cases of rabid beavers, one of which swam toward an angler and bit him. The fisherman was able to kill the beaver and it proved to be rabid. Like many of you, I had not ever given any thought to the possibility of beavers being rabid.
Aside from chance encounters with wildlife, it is important to understand that not all rabid animals are going to be frothing at the mouth when you see them. More obvious signs of an animal being sick, possibly from rabies, and to be avoided at all costs is one that simply seems to be listless or lethargic or not acting normally. Any wild animal that seems to have lost it fear of humans, who just sits there and lets you approach it, is to be studiously avoided.
Wear gloves if you are going to pick up wood from a wood pile. Spiders and other insects love to lurk in them. Watch for poison ivy and poison oak. Summertime hikes are so enjoyable but caution and common sense will keep you out of a lot of trouble.