Don’t mix alcohol & gunpowder

Some things are just meant to go together. Cookies and milk. Coffee and duck blinds. October and elk hunting. But some things just don’t mix.

You can’t beat the combination of a new shotgun and an old bird dog. Or a campfire and s’mores. OK, so that second one was a bit of a stretch. But you know what I mean. Some things just go together.

And some things don’t. Actually, a lot of things don’t. Like rogue nations and nuclear weapons. Or leaky waders and late December duck hunts. And don’t leave out hunting and alcohol.

Most responsible hunters already know this. You don’t get all liquored up, grab the .30-ought-six, and hit the trail. It’s a recipe for disaster. I’d hope you’d never think about downing a 12-pack then getting behind the wheel of your truck, and the same should be true for hunting. Or handling firearms at any time. If you’re not completely sober, leave the gun alone.

I’m not saying there’s no place for alcohol in hunting camp. I can’t think of many camps I’ve been in over the years where there weren’t any brewskis being shared around the fire. But before the first cap comes off, all the guns are safely stored.

There have been a number of stories in the papers over the years about accidents in hunting camps. Some were just pure bad luck, and others were the result of carelessness. But most of the ones I’ve read have listed alcohol as a factor in the accident. I’m sorry, but that’s just inexcusable.

Sure, go ahead and celebrate a good hunt. Make a toast or two to the mighty hunter, the alignment of the stars that allowed you to get your Boone and Crockett elk, or to the good friends who are with you in the field. But before you do, make sure the guns are unloaded, put ‘em in their cases, and store ‘em where they won’t be in the way when you finally crawl into your sleeping bag.

And it should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Leave the hip flask at camp. And don’t go hunting with anyone who thinks a nip along the trail is what hunting’s all about. Hunt sober. Drive sober. Come home safe.

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