November 28, 2023

I Went Hunting The Other Day And Saw Three Deer, A Moose, A Coyote And A Meth Lab

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What? No, I’m not kidding. This is all I read and hear about these days. I read newspaper accounts and hear from hunters everywhere that they are running into out-of-the-way, home made methamphetamine labs. Meth, for short, is a highly addictive drug that is usually made on home concocted apparatus. Because of police trying to crackdown on the manufacture, use and sale of it, makers have moved operations into the woods so they won’t so easily be found. Because of this, hunters roaming the woods during hunting season are finding them.

It has gotten so bad that states like South Dakota have issued warnings in their Hunting Handbook(pdf.file) about what to do if you come upon a meth lab.

Because of the illegal nature of their activity and the extreme paranoia these ‘cooks’ may be experiencing, approaching them in camouflage clothing and carrying a firearm can be a recipe for disaster.

The Handbook goes on to explain what to do if you come across a user, also known as a “tweaker”.

Keep your distance. Coming too close can be perceived as threatening.

􀂄 No bright lights. The tweaker is paranoid and bright lights may cause them to react violently.
􀂄 Slow your speech, lower your voice.
􀂄 Slow your movements. The tweaker may be paranoid and may misunderstand your actions.
􀂄 Keep your hands visible, or they may feel threatened and become violent.
􀂄 Keep the tweaker talking. A tweaker who falls silent can be extremely dangerous. Silence often means that his paranoid thoughts have taken over reality, and anyone present can become part of the tweaker’s paranoid delusions.

USA Today has a story today about the widespread problems of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts coming upon meth users and labs in the woods. The article states that some hunting organizations are actually spending their money to warn hunters.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association sponsors public-service announcements on radio stations each fall to warn hunters to be on the lookout for meth labs. “How can people abuse our natural resources like this?” asks Mark Johnson, the group’s executive director.

Lt. Carl Lamb of the Seymour, Ind., police department has conducted seminars for hundreds of area hunters and farmers. After the training sessions, he says, “They recognize what to look for and know not to mess with it.”

Larry Dale, a hunter and hunting safety instructor in Petersburg, Ill., says hunters can be “useful eyes and ears” for law enforcement when they know how to identify meth-related equipment. The drug and its makers, he says, are “a general menace to society.”

What has become of our society? Is this it? Is this what we have to look forward to? I can see it now as I sit down with my now 5-year old grandson when it’s time to take him into the woods for a hike, or to fish or to hunt. I’ll not only have to begin telling him of the respect we as outdoor users need to have toward nature, wildlife and the land and landowners but now I must warn them that their life might be in danger because some sorry loser is out in the woods cooking up meth.

The warning issued in the South Dakota Hunting Handbook also tells those who come across a meth lab, not to touch anything.

Most of these chemicals are hazardous by themselves, but when mixed in the cooking process and disposed of they become toxic waste, which is harmful to humans, animals and the environment. These mixtures are also highly flammable and even explosive. Manufacturing of one pound of Meth produces 5-6 pounds of hazardous waste. These chemicals can cause severe health problems, even death if handled improperly. Exposure may cause respiratory problems, skin and eye irritation, headaches, nausea and dizziness. If you believe you inadvertently came into contact with a lab or dumpsite and experience any of these symptoms, first seek immediate health care

This is a sad commentary on what has become of people in this country that they have to resort to such self-destructive behavior. Maybe if these people had grown up with their dads or moms taking them out hunting and fishing and just enjoying the outdoors, they wouldn’t be doing what they are today.

With this many toxins now being dumped in the woods, think of the number of animals that are probably dying from this. Where are the so-called animal rights activists? Maybe if they spent their time and money on important projects like this and began viewing hunters as not the enemy, their work would be better recognized and appreciated.

Tom Remington