By Mike Ryen
Spring is finally here, and summer is hot on its trail…I mean tail. Now is the time to enjoy some of the great trails that our state offers. Natural bridges, caves, scenery, and, of course, the chance to see wildlife. With everything there are some good rules to follow to help keep you safe. First rule, ALWAYS let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. If something happens, people will know to alert the authorities. The second rule is carry a small survival kit with you. Nothing fancy, simple items: water, snack bars, knife, lighter, basic first aid, and a compass. Hydration is no joke. Heat and humidity can cause dehydration faster than what you may think. Water is critical, filtered water. Insect repellant is our third rule, it may seem insignificant until you go through the effects of a tick bite or chiggers. Trust me! Always do a “Tick Check” once you complete your hike. Rule number four is to always stay within the limits of your abilities. This includes the distance you travel, the difficulty of the trail, and your ability to navigate less than well marked trails.
Rule five might seem a bit odd, but, believe me, it is important. Keep with you some different levels of defense while hiking. Whistles, pepper spray, knife, and in some cases a firearm are all acceptable. In Missouri we have bear, mountain lions, wolves, feral hogs, and the occasional stranger cross your path. I have had a bear encounter once; luckily, it was more interested in the berries across the way! Most of the time wildlife will avoid human contact and that is helped by making some noise while traveling. If contact occurs, don’t panic or show fear during the encounter. Be prepared and respond as required. The Kaintuck Hollow Trails located between Rolla and Saint Robert features sixteen miles of well-marked trails as an example. Get out there and enjoy the outdoors and be sure to be responsible while doing it. Your family appreciates it.
Vance Ewing spent 22 years in the US Army and eight years as a NATO Counter-IED and Anti-Terrorism Instructor. Vance currently serves as a NRA Counselor and Trainer. Michael Ryen spent eight years in the US Army Reserves and currently serves as a NRA Trainer and recruiter. They are the owners of The Bow and Barrel Sportsmen Center located at 22940 Harlan Lane, Saint Robert, Missouri. www.bowandbarrelsports.com, 573-451-2129