Having someone watch your back is good advice when outdoors

<span>We’ve probably said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back” a few times in our lives. It’s ironic that we are not very good at taking care of our own. The first, and most obvious meaning of watching our back, means to take care of ourselves in a dangerous situation. It is easier to be safe if we have a buddy or companion who can help look for danger. Two sets of eyes and ears are better than one.</span>

<span>My sons floated the Saline River over the weekend, and found themselves in close proximity of an angry water moccasin. I shudder to think what could have happened but they were safer together than alone. Imagine getting bitten a long way from medical attention and being alone. These brothers have always watched each other’s backs and will continue to do so when they explore the outdoors together.</span>

<span>It can be especially relaxing to hunt or fish alone. No need for conversation, no questions about where to go or when to leave. Many fine hours afield have been enjoyed with no company other than my dog. Still, it’s safer to hunt or fish with a friend who can help in time of need, or go for help in a really bad situation.</span>

<span>Another meaning of watching your back includes preventing injury. Most of us have read or heard the proper way of lifting things by using our legs, yet we continue to bend over and pick things up instead of stooping down and using the muscles in our legs for power. We don’t have all that much strength in the “hinge” point of our backs and, once injured, it can cause a lifetime of pain. Surgery isn’t often completely successful, either. Prevention is better than the cure.</span>

<span>This time of year folks tend to worship the sun and it’s not uncommon to see young men working in the fields, on roofs or on construction jobs without a shirt. While some of these men soon develop a nice tan, many of them get a nasty sunburn that is extremely painful. In both cases, with a tan or a sunburn, they may be setting themselves up for skin cancer in later years.</span>

<span>Skin cancer is both unsightly and life-threatening, and can become deadly serious. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and, over the past 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other forms of cancer combined. According to www.skincancer.org, one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetimes.</span>

<span>Approximately 3,170 deaths will occur in the U.S. in 2013 from skin cancer. Most of them could have been prevented, since 90 percent of skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun. Half of all adults report at least one sunburn in the past twelve months.</span>

<span>The only way to prevent sunburn is to wear clothing that covers the body or wear sunscreen that protects the skin from damaging rays. </span>

<span>Be sure to apply sunscreen liberally to ears, face, neck, and head. These areas are often overlooked, as well as one’s back and shoulders.</span>

<span>Some of my buddies laughed at me this week because I donned a long-sleeved white shirt and a straw hat while working outdoors for most of the day. Let them laugh. It’s easier for me to cover up than to wear sunscreen, and both are effective at preventing cancer.</span>

<span>As you venture outdoors this year, remember to “watch your back” and remember that the warning has several meanings. Guard yourself in dangerous situations, take care of your spine, and avoid skin cancer. It’s simple prevention that could avoid lots of suffering.</span>

<strong>Leave fawns alone</strong>

<span>It’s not unusual to find a whitetail fawn this time of year. From all appearances, the fawn has been abandoned. You’re likely to find it lying in the grass or woodlands without any other deer around. It’s natural to assume it needs your help. But, the best thing to do is leave it alone.</span>

<span>Whitetail does feed their fawns milk, then bed them down while they go off in search of food. The fawns have very little scent, so predators are unlikely to discover them. With their camouflage covering of spots, and little to no scent, their best defense is to remain motionless when danger approaches. Thus, it’s not unusual for you to stumble upon on in the woods or grasslands.</span>

<span>Unbeknown to you, the mother is probably watching from a distance and will not likely make her presence known. While she might come charging in to confront a dog or coyote, she won’t make the same defense against man. The fawn doesn’t need your intervention. It’s simply waiting for its mother to return in normal whitetail fashion.</span>

<span>After June 30, 2012, it became illegal to take deer as pets in Arkansas, although deer already in captivity could be kept until their deaths.  Although deer make poor pets, they were sometimes captured in the wild as fawns and kept in pens. This practice is now illegal.</span>

<span>So if you find a fawn in the wild, take out your camera phone, snap a few pictures, and enjoy the sweet innocence of one of nature’s beautiful creatures before you leave it as you found it. It’s okay to savor the moment but, honestly, the fawn really needs nothing more than a chance at life and it’s best if you’ll just leave it alone.</span>

<strong>Be safe with fire</strong>

<span>The land is lush with fresh growth right now, but the hot, dry days of summer are upon us and the threat of wildfires will build as we move into the dry months. If we move into drought conditions, the smallest spark can cause a fire. It’s only prudent to be increasing aware of fire danger and take steps to avoid causing wildfires.</span>

<span>The vast majority of uncontrolled fires are caused by man, even though a few are caused by lightning and other natural causes. By simply being careful with our fires, we can avoid most wildfires. This means making a campfire only in a safe place and being sure it’s completely extinguished before we leave it.</span>

<span>When cooking outdoors, be aware that sparks or coals can cause flammable materials to ignite and clear an area around your grill or cooker so that it cannot burn. Use a concrete pad, or spread gravel to construct a fire-proof cooking area.</span>

<span>Under drought conditions, the tiniest spark can ignite fires. Be especially careful with fireworks, and discard cigarettes in a safe place. Even power tools or the sun’s rays shining through a glass bottle holding some water can cause wildfires. A stray bullet can hit a rock and cause a spark, which is enough to cause a fire when it’s really dry.</span>

<span>As we move into the dry period, be increasingly careful with fire. Never leave any fire unattended and always have the necessary tools at hand to deal with a fire if it begins to escape. </span>

<span>When in doubt, don’t burn. Fire is our friend, but it can do awesome damage if uncontrolled and can cost millions in damage to timber, structures and homes. Worse, it can cause the loss of life which can’t be measured in dollars.</span>

<strong>Alligator hunt permits applications available</strong>

<span>LITTLE ROCK—Arkansas hunters may apply for alligator hunting permits for the 2013 season. The application period lasts until midnight June 24. Permits will be drawn in July.</span>

<span>Each permit authorizes the harvest of one alligator, which must be at least four feet long. </span>

<span>Alligator hunting is allowed 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise during the approved alligator hunting season dates—Sept. 20-23 and Sept. 27-30. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age the day the hunt begins and only Arkansas residents or holders of an Arkansas Lifetime Sportsman’s Permit may apply. Applicants with 12 or more AGFC violation points are ineligible to apply.</span>

<span>Successful applicants must attend a hunter orientation class at one of the following locations before the hunt: AGFC Hope Regional Office, AGFC Monticello Regional Office or AGFC Little Rock Headquarters. Visit www.agfc.com for more information regarding the special alligator permit hunts and to apply. (AGFC Press Services)</span>

<strong>Big Bass Bonanza coming June 28-30</strong>

<span>LITTLE ROCK—For many Arkansas fishermen it is a dream. One cast can win the equivalent of a year’s salary—the $50,000 top prize.</span>

<span>It is the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza scheduled Friday through Sunday, June 28-30, and the competition is on all of the Arkansas River in the state. Big Bass Bonanza is operated by the Arkansas Hospitality Association.</span>

<span>Professional bass fishermen are not allowed to enter the tournament.</span>

<span>Anglers can choose to fish one, two, or all three days of the tournament. Entry fee to fish is $80 each day, if the fisherman enters by Thursday, June 13. After that, the entry fee will be $90 a day.</span>

<span>The angler with the over-all biggest bass gets a guaranteed $50,000. The river is divided into five pools for the tournament, and winners of the other four pools are guaranteed $10,000 each.</span>

<span>Hourly first-, second- and third-place winners in each of the five pools will receive money based on the number of entries in the tournament. Last year the hourly prizes were $500 for first, $250 for second and $125 for third. A total of $188,850 in prize money was awarded in 2012.</span>

<span>There is an extra $100 for wearing Big Bass Bonanza caps and T-shirts at the weigh-in for each of the hourly first-, second- and third-place anglers. </span>

<span>Additional prizes include one competition that always draws interest, the Willow Leaf Award, going to the parent-child combination or grandparent-grandchild, weighing in the largest bass for the tournament.</span>

<span>Fishermen can choose to fish any of the five pools and can fish different pools during the three-day event if they want to. However, all fish must be weighed in the pool in which they were caught. Eligible fish species include largemouth, smallmouth and spotted or Kentucky bass.</span>

<span>The tournament begins at 6 a.m. on all three days, with the first hourly weigh-in at 8 a.m. and subsequent weigh-ins at the top of each hour until the final 1 p.m. weigh-in. The five weigh-in sites are Clear Creek Park at Fort Smith, Dardanelle State Park at Russellville, Alltel Ramp at North Little Rock, Regional Park at Pine Bluff and Pendleton Bridge east of Dumas.</span>

<span>To enter or for more information, go online to arkansasbigbass.com or contact the Arkansas Hospitality Association at 501-376-2323.</span>

<span>Anglers from many other state in addition to Arkansas compete in the Big Bass Bonanza. Last year, 21 states were represented. In the 24 years of the tournament, there has not been a repeat over-all winner. </span>

<span>Last year’s winner was David Shopher of McGehee with a 6.27-pound largemouth. He was fishing from a 14-foot flatbottom boat. (AGFC Press Services)</span>

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