Monday, April 7, 2008

The Dangers of Treasure Hunting

When most people think about dangers in treasure hunting there is generally one or two things that pop into their mind, it is either death traps or being ambushed, depending on how paranoid you are. I’m sure I will catch a lot of flack about this next statement but I will say it anyway; there are very few death traps that you have to worry about. In my opinion it will be very rare to run into an actual man made death trap. People seem to see them all of the time but in reality, they just aren’t found that often at treasure sites. If you are unlucky enough to run across a death trap they are generally obvious as long as you are paying attention and not getting ahead of yourself. An actual death trap is designed to work on someone who gets excited about finding a tunnel or cave that is supposed to have gold in it and stops paying attention to what they are doing. Excessive greed will get you every time.

As far as an ambush goes, these are fairly rare also unless you are working in a foreign country or along the border of one like Mexico. If you are in fear of an ambush then it may be better to look for a different site. Treasure isn’t worth dying over.

Now that we have the two “big” dangers out of the way I’ll talk a little bit about the ones most people ignore and shouldn’t. The ones that you are most likely to encounter. The first and scariest to me is snakes. I hate snakes! You can call me a “girly man” if you want but I would prefer never to see a snake. Most of us hunt at least some in the warmer months and the chance of running into a snake is pretty good. Luckily the snakes like us about us much as we like them so as long as we aren’t stupid or extremely unlucky, you can usually steer clear of the snakes. There is always the chance of accidentally running across a snake so you should always be prepared for a snakebite. The best way to be prepared in these times is a cell phone and not hunting alone. You can get cell service just about anywhere now so always take your phone with you. It wouldn’t hurt to have an up to date snakebite kit either. You can also purchase a good pair of snake boots or even snake chaps to help lower your chance of getting bit. The thing you really have to watch is where you put your hands if you are climbing across large rocks or boulders. Learn what snakes are indigenous to the area you are hunting and what the poisonous ones look like. You will be asked what the snake looked like when you go to the emergency room so you might as well look like you know what you are doing!

Another problem that some of you farther south will run into is Africanized or “killer” bees. These things can be worse than snakes because they just don’t know when to give up and you almost never have any warning they are coming until it’s too late. I have just started learning about these nasty little critters and it has become apparent to me that if you are hunting in an area where these bees can be then it is well worth the money to buy a “bee hat” or hood. They make some that fold up and are for emergency use. They don’t take up very much room and are reusable and fairly cheap. If you are old and out of shape like me, running away isn’t the best option so having an emergency hood and sleeves is cheap insurance from this kind of attack. If you are in need of this kind of protection you should try a "Bee Ready Kit". You can find more information about these at Africanized bees are known to attack “intruders” that get within one hundred feet of their hive. A hundred feet! You wouldn’t even know their hive was there until they were already on top of you. If you do get attacked and stung know how to deal with the sting. I would recommend that everybody, especially those of you in the southwest, know about these bees and how to protect and treat yourself. There isn’t enough room on this blog to go into detail but the information is readily available on the Internet. The only good news so far about these bees is the incidence of death by killer bees is small, just a couple of people each year. I think it would be in your best interest to try not to be one of those people.

As long as we are talking about bugs I should mention things like spiders, scorpions, centipedes, etc. There are certain species of bugs out there than can turn a good day hunting into a really bad day of pain and agony. These are too many to list individually and vary from area to area so I would suggest you do a little research about the area you are hunting in, especially if it’s not a place you normally go to, and find out what kind of creepy crawlies are out there that could cause you problems. Once you know what they are learn how to counteract any symptoms of a bite or sting and know which ones will require an immediate trip to the hospital.

Normally, I would think it would be obvious and unnecessary to tell people to stay away from wild animals but I have seen more than one person think they could antagonize a buffalo and get away with it. I would hope that if you are smart enough to be reading this blog you are smart enough to stay away from things like wild buffalo, cats in the “we can eat people” category, wild horses, etc. Although they are fun to read, I certainly wouldn’t want to read about a treasure hunter in the annual Darwin Awards.

Another thing I would recommend everyone take a crash course in is plant life for your area. Learn to recognize which ones are poisonous or hazardous to your health. Poison Ivy or Poison Oak can sure make for a bad experience. Running into a cactus or other plant with pointy ends can also be very unpleasant. Some of these types of plants can secrete a sap or juice that will make the point of contact even more irritated.

One of the most important things that most people don’t even think about is dehydration. I know Okie has had to rescue more than his share of people that got lost in the mountains and had no water. Always, and I mean ALWAYS make sure you have enough liquids. Figure out how much you think you will need and then pack extra. In the really hot months it is a good idea to pack a large bottle or two of Gatorade along with your water. Sometimes water just won’t replace the electrolytes as quickly as you need them and the Gatorade will make a big difference.

Take the time to learn about the dangers indigenous to the area you are hunting in and plan accordingly. Think of it as a do it yourself survival school.

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