By Tim H. Martin/Buckmasters Online Editor
I edit hundreds of stories written by hunters each year and am constantly amazed at how many describe walking to their treestands in the dark with no flashlight. This is one of the most dangerous things a hunter can do because other hunters only see movement in low light and could easily mistake you for an animal.
It seems innocent enough. We've all forgotten a light at one time or another, and I'm certainly guilty.
As a young hunter, one morning I chose to walk to my treestand despite knowing my flashlight batteries were dead. I took a chance in the dark anyway; fully aware other hunters were in the area on public land - sheer stupidity.
But several years ago, I started taking flashlights very seriously. A man in a nearby county was hunting with his son and a family friend, and there was a terrible incident.
After dark, the father and boy were walking out of the timber without flashlights and their friend mistook the son for a coyote. Even though they were wearing safety orange, the man shot at movement. It was one of the most tragic things I've ever heard, and it could have been easily prevented.
Since then, I keep multiple flashlights in my backpack in case one stops working. I also clip a caplight or strap a headlamp on any child I take hunting and make sure they also have a handheld model. If we spook deer coming out in the dark, well, that's just too bad.
Clip-on lights are cheap, available and easy to carry in your pockets. Buy several.
Our friends at Streamlight make inexpensive models for every possible use, and I highly recommend buying several to keep in your packs, pockets and vehicle.
Also, buy replacement batteries before hunting season starts. Keep them in the refrigerator for proper long-term storage. If you know your batteries are running low, this prevents having to run to the store late at night or before dawn to buy more.
Something so simple could have prevented a tragedy. I wish this tip had been used by those hunters years ago.