Rancher's Management Guide
TSCRA Special Ranger Holiday Safety Tips
By Ellen H. Brisendine
December is the month in which we focus on ranch safety, and it's the month in which many of us are in full holiday mode. The special rangers of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), like many of us, are busy with family gatherings and activities. I asked them to share the precautions they take to keep their families and friends safer during this time of year.
Special Ranger Scott Williamson: Be aware of your surroundings
Awareness and common sense are my 2 top picks. Be aware at all times of your surroundings.
These days, cell phone use is so prevalent and people are often focused on their cell phone while walking through a mall or parking lot. Predators will use this to their advantage to stay within striking distance.
Be cautious of persons approaching you while you are entering or exiting your vehicle in parking lots. A request for help is often used to draw you into striking distance.
Be aware of the situations you put yourself in, particularly in parking lots — stay in a lighted area or better, limit your errands to daylight hours.
Throw a couple of jackets in the vehicle, regardless of the temperature, to throw over gifts or purchases left in the vehicle. This time of year it is so common to see jackets in a back seat and no one thinks anything about them.
Lock your doors. When possible shop with another person.
Most importantly think about what you post on Facebook or in any public networking site. For example, don't announce, "We are all going skiing in New Mexico and will return to have Christmas at home!" You may trust those you intended to see the news, but there will be those who you don't trust who may be able to access your travel plan.
This time of year, it is extremely important to record serial numbers of all your firearms. We are experiencing a large number of burglaries at ranches and hunting camps involving the theft of all types of firearms.
Firearms are virtually impossible to recover without the serial number. With the serial number, although it may take some time, we have a much higher rate of recovery. Special Rangers Dean Bohannon and Harold Dempsey recovered about 40 firearms earlier this fall, and I recovered 3 in September because the owner had recorded the serial numbers.
Since many times firearms are given as Christmas gifts, the giver may assume he or she does not need to record the serial number until after the gift is opened. I recommend recording it before the gift is wrapped, in case there is a Christmas burglary.
Special Ranger Max Hartmann: Holiday hunting safety
During my 35 years as a Texas game warden I investigated too many firearm-related accidents that sent hunters to the hospital and approximately 7 fatal accidents that sent hunters to the funeral home.
Five of the fatal accidents I investigated were cases in which the hunter mistook a hunting partner for a game animal — deer or turkey.
Too often hunters become caught up in the moment. They may develop tunnel vision and fail to positively identify their target. This is always tragic because many times we are hunting with friends or family.
Always positively identify the game in your sights and identify what may be behind the game should you miss your shot.
These accidents, which occurred mostly in the field while hunting or around hunting camps, could have been avoided with proper firearm handling, and most were because individuals did not observe the "10 Rules of Firearm Safety."
I always stress that alcohol and firearms do not mix! Please be careful and enjoy your hunt, and bring your friends and family home safely.
"Rancher's Managment Guide: TSCRA Special Ranger Holiday Safety Tips" is from the December 2012 issue of The Cattleman