Hunter Undergoes Shots
Inside the Outdoors, February 17
, 2012

When I heard that a Lancaster County hunter contacted rabies as a result of cleaning his deer, I thought – “Wow, I never hear of that before,” and year after year there always seemed to be an abundance of releases concerning Chronic Wasting Disease. CWD infects deer and elk and produces small lesion that result in the death of these animals. So, this sportsman got more than he bargained for and unfortunately has to undergo the dreaded rabies shots.

I have been told that if I would see rabid smaller animals, such as raccoons or foxes, for example, they would display definite signs that alert the onlooker that here we have sick animals. But, as long as I have been studying nature and listening to outdoorsmen and women, no one has ever mentioned what to expect when a deer has this disease.

Such was the case of this hunter, as well. He thought there was a coyote nearby from the sounds the deer was making. It was standing in a creek, straining and growling.

From samples taken from the deer, as well as information from the hunter, it was determined that, indeed, the deer was rabid.

Not being a hunter, I have no knowledge whether hunters wear gloves to clean their kill. The victim did not wear gloves. His hands were scratched exposing him to the disease. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has always recommended hunters and trappers wear latex or rubber gloves if hunters take an animal that may appear sick.

According to Dr. Walter Cottrell, Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, “All mammals are susceptible to rabies and can spread the virus in the right circumstances,” he said. “To prevent the spread of wildlife diseases, we encourage hunters and trappers to contact the Game Commission about any animals that they encounter that may appear to be sick. Also, when field dressing any mammal, it is critical to wear rubber or latex gloves to prevent exposure to not just rabies, but also to other disease organisms.”

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A citizen of Latrobe and I were holding a brief conversation recently, when she said, “It is important when hiring contractors to support local people.” Now, I heard that many times before, but something stirred my brainwaves shortly after departing from her presence. With the Forbes Trail Chapter Trout Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation having banquets in the beginning of March, shouldn’t it be the practice of all the members of our communities to support these fine folks who do so much to aid in the conservation, restoration and education of others? These men and women are your next store neighbors, the men down the street, or possibly, members of your church.

Why send a check to the national organizations of these and many more clubs throughout our fine nation that are doing the same thing?

Now, I must point out that national organizations should continually be supported if you want America to maintain the beauty that it has always carried with it. But, for these two, I know the FTTU and RMEF only have one fundraiser a year, the first organization on March 3, and the latter, March 10. The local volunteers depend on you to buy admission tickets and take part in the raffle and various other ways such as ticket drawings or silent auctions to raise monies needed that have been instrumental in carrying out their goals for the upcoming year.

For FTTU, that funding supports so much more than the eye can fathom, including education of youth whereby they learn to tie flies and then use them to catch fish. What a turn on! And other volunteer individuals will take time to show women how to cast with fly rods and then give them guidance during actual fishing experiences. How great is that?

Conservation and restoration of the banks and waterways also top the lists of ways FTTU men and women have contributed to our resources. That’s why this banquet is so important.

And to think that elk do not reside in Pennsylvania, so what’s the big deal, couldn’t be farthest from the truth. There is a reason Elk County is named for that animal. Here again, the president of this organization, Steve Kowatch, knows the importance of caring for these animals. By the way, the Latrobe businessman is surrounded by people just like him who come from all over to attend the banquet on March 10. These are concerned folks that want to see this creation of God stand tall in the grasses and woods of the northern county for many years to come.

So, when you hear someone use that all-too familiar expression, realize, you best get tickets for either function, FTTU, at the Ligonier Outfitters, Ligonier, The Angler’s Room, Latrobe, its website, www.forbestrailtu.org. Deadline for FTTU is Feb. 27. For banquet tickets for RMEF, contact Kowatch at 724-537-2618.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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