Contributors to this thread:
How do you handle lightning?
Elk are pretty synonymous with the Rockies (I'm aware of the other herds across US but not many people leave Colorado to hunt elk in Pennsylvania) and the Rockies get some nasty lightning storms in the summer/fall! How do you handle it?
My scariest moment was with my son, on a high ridge and a storm came in. We were exhausted and had just come up from the valley below so my first instinct wasn't to drop back down that hill. We dropped 100 yards down or so and crouched...then the hail began...and we sought shelter under a tree, and the lightning got closer and we kind of had a panic attack for a few minutes. The hail left and it snowed, then the sun came back out and all was fine.
I hate lightning. (and spiders)
I’ve had lightning cracking around me multiple days hunting elk in NM but not in Colorado. I guess maybe that’s the difference in early and late September. I usually just hunker down and say a few prayers. Lol
Hunker down and pray :)
Got caught high on a peak last year. We'd been watching the storm. No lightning, then it started and we were caught on an open hillside. We hunkered down and thought surely we'd be OK as we weren't on the highest part. . . . then lightning struck the valley in front of us. Then hit the peak behind us. It was a little hairy
I've had aluminum arrows humming as I watched lighting strike below me on the mountain. I try to be smart about it but sometimes they hit quick.
Get the rain gear on, find the nearest depression, hunker down and pray . No trees for me when the lightning is popping.
I was caught in a bad electrical storm once, I found s very large downed tree, and laid down parallel to it's trunk. Many tall living trees were more likely to take a strike before the one laying on the ground.
I try not to freak out. But it's spooky for sure. I bailed out once during my muley hunt last season I was hiking a ridge with pretty much every other tree bearing a lightning scar. On the horizon was a lot of lightning. I didn't have a good gut feeling so I backed out. Ended up driving through the back end of the storm on the way to camp. Snail pace on a highway couldn't see shit from the hail. When I was out unlocking gates to get back to camp the lightning was striking the area around me shaking everything. I never was so happy than then to be sleeping in a camper over a car or tent
I was caught in a bad electrical storm once, I found s very large downed tree, and laid down parallel to it's trunk. Many tall living trees were more likely to take a strike before the one laying on the ground.
I think it's more like, "How Does Lightning Handle Us?"
Was ready to head out to a spot to go hunting and noticed a bad storm heading the same direction so turned around and went hunting in a different area. Came back to camp that evening and found out that a couple hunters were caught in it and was taking shelter under a tree. Lightning struck the tree killing one of the hunters.
I generally try and get into a boat and get out into open water to wait it out ;)
OK maybe not funny, but that's relatively the same thing as hunkering under a big tree.
Apauls, et al, I agree but the hail was absolutely pummeling us. It was probably safer to get our asses handed to us by the hail but marble sized hail hurts like hell! LOL
Everything I know about lightning says to NEVER lay down. My understanding is the best position is to crouch down with your feet on the ground and close together (bird on a wire effect).
Not sure there is a "best case" with lightning but figured I'd get some other's input.
Whimper and pray...while the thunderbombs rattle my bones...
Just let em hang and man up!!!Haha , seriously though we hunt the high country and at 11000' sounds more like bombs going off outside the tent . Just ride the wave!
Yup! You really don't have a whole lot to say about it, especially at that altitude. But I look at it like this, as long as I can still hear the thunder, then I have NO problem with that! The bolt that hits you you'll never hear the thunder from.
Ive been known to hang my bow in a tree and walk a good distance away and wait out the storm
I WAS the guy: fishing in boat when the rod hums if you point it up - fishing when the line rises straight up taking all the line off your reel while the bait is still in the water.
July 2008 - I was standing under of the work shop overhang watching the thunderstorm. My hair stood on end then a 107' white pine in my yard (less than 100 yards from me) got struck by lighting. I watched the lightning go down the tree splitting it in half. From 20' and up there was a split 6-24" gap in the trunk. Bark/branches were on the roof of the house 150 yards away.
I will think twice before taking cover under a tree.
NOW when lighting approaches I go inside.
I read an article about two fellas hunting up in the Ruby’s when a thunderstorm rolled in. They were headed down hill on a trail on he rocks. The writer said I knew we were in trouble when I saw St Elmo’s fire dancing on my buddy’s gun barrel. That was right before the first bolt hit nearby.
I'm 54 years old, my kids are grown, my joints are wearing out, I'm going bald, I'm losing my hearing, and I have prostate issues. I climb up on a high spot and hold an arrow overhead.
I'm not a big fan. One summer on a muskie fishing trip up in northern MN a thunderstorm was approaching. I kept looking at my fishing partner (who is single and a tad bit obsessed) and asking if we shouldn't get off the lake. He kept saying we have time. In the meantime, I kept getting zapped by flies on the back of my legs. Finally I looked back to see what the heck kept biting me, and it wasn't flies at all. Electricity was arcing between my calf and a metal part of the seat of the boat. I said, we're getting out of here!
My friend who was the regional biologist for CDOW had just retired and was setting up his elk camp with his son. Looking forward to a long life of hunting and fishing. Lightning came out of nowhere - no prior thunder - and struck him dead.
A massive "mortar attack" lightning storm one night was what finally drove me into a camper for base camp. A couple times I've seen trees struck close by. Usually hail comes with it. Part of living in the mountains, and the best prevention when the spit hits the fan is prayer, because a ground strike can get you no matter what.
I was also the guy like Buck Watcher, with my hair standing up and fishing line going up into the sky. My buddy touched the side of the aluminum boat and got a shock. Funny thing was that lightning never struck that morning.
Here is what you are supposed to do.
Like Buck Watcher I've also experienced the buzzing when I raised my fishing rod too high. Had some times when the monofilament floating above the water from the static electricity. I was also in a bass club in north Alabama where one of the members had been struck 3 times. Some places are just more prone to it than others.
Hey Lark - didnt mean it as a slam. Just one of those things where it's a natural reaction to seek shelter in a storm, but in reality some of the obvious choices are the worst.
No offense taken, I get it, seeking shelter under trees during lightning goes against everything we know, right? BUT...taking hail to the ears, hands, head, etc sucks too. ;)
Since we dropped in elevation a bit to find the trees (not one individual tree mind you) I feel a bit better in my decision. It's bullet point...err...lightning bolt #3 on Elkstabbers link.
"Thunder's just the noise boys, lightning does the work....."
A couple of years back, I had shot a bull, taken a load out, and headed back to camp (backpack camp) with the plan of finishing the job the next morning. It rained on me the whole way up and was really dark when I got to camp. I was camped under some trees with a dead tree about 20 yards away. It started really getting after it. Lightning, hale/rain blowing up all around me. I barely got into the tent, basically jumping in muddy boots and all. It was exploding around me, and I was exhausted. As I sat there, I suddenly had the premonition that the dead tree was going to fall on me! It is hard to admit here, but I started sobbing and blubbering about my kids losing there Dad. I sat there and wrote them a long note about how Dad was an idiot, and he will miss them, be good to Mom, etc. I finally passed out. Next morning I woke up, an elk walking by the tent bugling, not a cloud in the sky. I had one of those "Thank God" moments, ripped up the letter, and got back to work on the packing meat!
There are a couple threads I posted my lightning encounter on with pictures. lets just say I got down out of my ladder stand 2 minutes before the tree and the stand got hit by lightning. I was less than 20 yards away. Took a slab of tree off just above the stand. left 2 holes in the ground 6 inches deep at the stands legs. Burned a hole through the stand safety bar and melted the material wrapped around it. The loudest crack Ive ever heard in my life! deafening. Now the first sign of lighting im out and start running like a scart little girl! I jump half the time when I hear it crack even when its a mile away. Fortunatly I got down in time, i also put on my Helly Hansens rain gear just before it hit.
GotBowAz, do you now pack an extra pair of skivvies in your pack? That must have been terrifying!
I always carry a 1 iron in my quiver. When lightning starts, I take it out and hold it up over my head......Even God can’t hit a 1 iron!!
Yes, I now pack 2 pair of skiveys. And there is still one very soiled pair out by the stand!
What was left of my padding.
Im not sure why this picture didnt show up on my above post.
Lightening can scare you off the mountain for sure or it can pass without circumstance. I think caution is always the best approach.
Hard to avoid trees when you're surrounded by 40 ft. trees a mile in any direction. I figure if lightning is gonna hit the one tree that I'm under out of the 1,000,000 around it, then it was meant to be. That being said, I have felt the concussion from a lightning strike near by, and have seen plenty of 2X4 sized splinters, some driven so deep you couldn't pull them out of the ground.
My best friend (at the time) and another guy as well, was struck by lightning running from a thunderstorm on Lake Fork. They think it struck the pedestal seat in the back. Killed both of them, fried all the boat wiring, both motors, etc. I was supposed to go fishing with him that day, but I had to work. If I had, he would still be alive today, because I don't challenge thunderstorms on the water. I had a couple of very close calls in the past and a fish just ain't worth it.
The two scariest times,
Once in a horrible storm at sea in 14-18 foot waves, lightning striking everywhere! Everyone was sick and scared to death! it got so rough, that we had to tie ourselves into our bunks. Nasty Nasty Nasty!
Once in Florida, I was driving a Cat 950 D Loader over an overpass and lightning struck the ground about 15 feet in front of me. The heat burned the hair on my arms and it shook the whole overpass! I killed the loader and jumped over the railing and ran underneath the overpass. I stayed there for over an hour until the storm passed.
Yes I needed to change after both events... :/
I have also seen two tower cranes get struck.
I’ve experienced a couple scary thunderstorms in the past. These days when I hear one approaching, I head back to camp. I’m at the point I don’t care to tempt fate if I can help it.
Had a really bad lightning experience sheep hunting. The only thing that scares me more is mountain lions....And my mother-in-law.
It depends on how close it is and how wet it is. Sometimes I just ignore it. Sometimes I go in and wait for the storm to pass. If you are waiting it out in the field, have some rain gear with you.
Years ago a friend and I had hiked a mile or so down an open ridge to fish lower slough creek in yellowstone NP with the only obstacle being scattered bison to avoid. Pretty good fishing and we let a thunderstorm catch us, so we hotfooted our way back toward the camper. With the lightning getting too close we started looking for a decent depression to hunker down in but the bison outsmarted us because every low spot had from 2 to 20 bison mostly lying down. Never knew the critters were that smart/educated. Brighter than us for sure, we should have sat it out along the creek.
Get below treeline but near the edge of the Basin not the middle and find a low spot and cover up with my tarp and take a nap
PRAY. I've had to many close calls.
People always say get to a low spot blah blah.
Well when I was in high school. I was standing up on a Mtn. My buddy was about 1000 feet below me. Out of nowhere a lighting bolt blasted him (nearly killing him).
I think when your time is up your time is up.! Lol
Also got to see a herd of 50 elk that was killed by lighting Up abover timberline once.
Lighting is an interesting critter.
Lightning in the elkwoods can be scary for sho. Not much you can do about it when you're caught in it. Just have to try and find a safe place and hope it's not your time yet. When you look around, and see a dozen spruce trees that have been struck, you are not in a safe place ;)
There is NO safe place when its hitting around you,,when I was a kid ,people used to say ,,get in a vehicle,,the rubber tires will save you...high school....my buddies dad ,,cutting wood,,storm whipped in,,jumped in his truck,,,.truck got struck..killed a good man.....
I work in the woods a lot. I have been in some really bad electrical storms. Last one was about 15 years ago. I swore if I lived through it, I'd do my best to never be caught in another one. I've done pretty good so far. So, I run to shelter or my vehicle when I see or hear it coming. Call me a wimp. I don't care. I am terrified by electricity. Especially when it is eradically jumping around every where. God Bless men
Do exactly what elkstabber's link says. I always love the "go indoors" advise. Gee thanks, why didn't I think of that, the closest house is only 25 miles away.
Get in a small depression if you can and stay off ridges or peaks, crouch down on the balls of your feet. You get some electrical insulation from your shoes and minimizes your exposure. Also, the speed of sound is 341 meters per second, so if you hear thunder less than 10 seconds after the flash, it's close. I've been in 2 situations where I saw a blinding flash and what seemed like a simultaneous deafening thunder.
It ain't all bad got new for you nobody get out alive it is one of the most incredible and awe inspiring shows in nature,,,The most incredible day in my life I was packing out my ram in the most insane thunder/sleet-storm I ever saw...there was no stopping...hunkering down... you just kept trying to keep moving...I wouldn't trade that feature of that day for anything....well boys in my book getting toasted with my ram on my back is better than a lot of ways out of this earthy life...
Find an old dead snag on a ridgeline and hide under it..... they say lightning never strikes the same place twice......
Been knocked down twice from lightning, one time elk hunting in ID 10-12 years ago. Was hail, lightning here and there. It was pretty much near dark and I was hooking it to camp..... was fairly open, had just gone into a small swale and the world went bright white. Next I knew I was on my face, ears ringing like somebody shot a 10 gauge by my head and seeing spots. Laid there for some time and things seemed to pass by. Got up and hauled azz back to camp. Never had any hair raising warning or any such that I can remember.... it was popping around, but never seemed that close. Then wham. I couldn't tell you where it hit or what it hit. Never really "saw" it. Just a major flash bulb went off.
Where to go.... what to do.... I'd guess get to the lowest spot you can given the time. I've read not in the open... but not under a tree (???? where then?) crouch with just the balls of your feet on the ground (not sure how long to expect to hold that position.....) In reality I'm likely in the fetal position and praying from a hole in the ground.....
If a lighting bolt can cross the open space between the clouds and the ground, there's nothing you can get in or on to beat it, especially your shoes, however a car might conduct it around you instead of through you, that's the reason it will provide some protection, not the tires! If your shoes could protect you, you wouldn't get static shocks from the carpet, just basic electrical theory!
Hide in the tent or pull my hood over my head a little tighter. Not sure where you can really "hide" from lightening. It's kind of like Christmas with the in-laws, you just suck it up and hope nothing really bad happens and then thank your lucky stars when it's over.
Ermine, I've heard ther "rubber tire " thing too. It's a myth. What's NOT a myth is that a motor vehicle can act as a "faraday cage" dispersing the grounding points and making the vehicle LESS likely to be the "best" strike point for the static discharge (which is all lighning really is) ...doesn't always work, and when it doesn't it's tragic. It's still probably the best bet though.
I give lightning a bunch of respect. I have witnessed it go crazy on a peak I was on an hour prior when I had no idea of the approaching storm. By luck I had made the decision to drop off of it. I keep my eye on the sky when up high now. So much dead standing timber where I hunt heading into the timber when the wind is building from an approaching storm isn't really appealing. You just know every one of them is coming down at some point!
Oh and when my mom was21 she was taking clothes off Of a clothes line,,she was pregnant with her first child,a storm looked far enough away,,lighting hit the ground,jumped to the pole,and line. Blew her shoes off,and killed the baby,,8 month's in...she said the sky was clear,,darker a few miles away...never know..
savage, I am sorry to hear that. I can't imagine what she must have gone through!
Yeah lark I bet,,,Young and central mountains of WV. tough...coalminers and carpenter's,,her skin was thick,she had 3 kids including me after,,so that's probably what's wrong with me....lol
I've always marveled at the fire tower rangers. They would sit in a chair with glass insulators on the feet and during a lightning storm mark as many strikes as they could on an Osborn Firefinder (map of the area). Then afterwards would check these marks for smoke. Definitely not a job for me.
I use it to recharge my cell phone.
Well, it's not that life is too short, but that you're dead for so long!
I've had enough "hairys" with lightning that I have a healthy respect, bordering on a phobia, for it....kinda like grizz...but I digress.....
I watch the weather fanatically! Storms coming and I seek shelter...yeah, I know, sometimes I still get caught, but I don't like it...lol.
The golfer Lee Trevino and his playing competitor were once struck on course during a tournament...they survived, but not without consequence. If memory serves, Trevino never won on tour again. Anyway, being the "character" that he is, his advice to getting caught on course in a lightning storm is, "Walk down the middle of the fairway holding a "1" iron high over your head...even God can't hit a "1" iron!"
I’ve heard some firsthand stories to develop more respect for it. Ive had some scares, but nothing serious. You could try this to decrease your odds. :)
“How do you handle lightning?“
For me it usually involves the fetal position and some slight whimpering sounds! Lol. But seriously… I’ve always marveled at mother nature and the force that comes with her! As a kid I would love seeing and being in the middle of storms. Lightning is an awesome thing until it becomes so close you can feel the hair on your arms stand up. I definitely try to be smart and have a respect for it when it rolls in.
Wish I could find the pic of our tree stand in MO after lightening struck......stripped two several inch wide swaths of oak bark from where the stand pegs engaged the tree all the way to the ground.......15'. Spooky for sure.
Found an exploded pine once following a bad storm. 8' up the trunk there was no more tree. It was a good 2' around. Wood shrapnel was spread in a nice radius out 20' with some shards stuck into surrounding trees and stumps. Glad I was not next to it when that happened.
Close lightening makes me scream like a little girl, shart my shorts and throw an aluminum bow......damn the cost. Glad I have a carbon bow now but not sure that matters much. I hate high country lightening and head for cover and hunker down.....or run downhill. I have no shame.
I personally know a woman who's vehicle was struck going down the highway and all it did was blow the pin holes in it like it does a airplane. Must be something to the the rubber tire thing.
Did someone really say, "I was in a lightening storm ONCE" ?
Elkstabbers link....and Oldgoats diagram are very good. I would add that whomever is lying on the ground in a lightning storm is asking for more of a jolt. If you can get out of the wet stuff...and get some dry insulation- a non conductor under you...like dry forest duff...or dry sticks.
I always camp in those inside elbows- #3 on Oldgoats diagram. I've been on high plateaus where every other stunted pine has been struck...and that inside elbow has very little sign of being hit in many decades.
Okiej hitted on the the head. Never under trees and big rocks. Find the nearest depreesion and hunker down. We came upon a herd of 13 elk that were all killed by lighting. Total respect especially in Colorado. Second only to Florida in lighten strikes
I've been too close to many times... I have a hard time with god and the after life, but when it hits on the same ridge and you feel the static shock feeling, I become a beliver... lol..
Colorado is bad , bad, Leroy Brown. I have been all over the West and Midwest and worse lightening storms I have ever been in were in Colorado. My wife and kids and I took a side trip out of Grand Junction and got in a thunder storm and we have never been so scared in our lives. My advice and what I do is dive off into a canyon as fast as possible. Pray always and trust God.
God bless, Steve
I don’t handle lightning very well. I know it can be stimulating and all but l just don’t get a charge out of it !
My worst fears are rattlesnakes and lightning....in that order. But I like to hunt and go to work, so I deal with both when needed. I've been in some bad storms while elk hunting in NM but I'm going on my first Colorado high country deer hunt this fall. I'm pumped.....except for the lightning possibility
I've never been afraid of lightning. Probably because I grew up watching He-man.
I've had some close encounters over the years... Nothing like getting stuck on a ridge in Colorado this past August on a solo sheep hunt. I'll never forget that night for as long as I live. After the 3rd strike within rifle range, I abandoned ship and descended 1000-1500 ft in a matter of a few short minutes. I will take a brown bear at 50 yards over an exposed ridge lightning storm any day of the week.
I find running in the opposite direction screaming like a little girl works for me ; ?
I went to Philmount Scout reservation for a 10 day trek. They taught us to stay in place and make your self small with as little contact with the ground as possible.....cause whatever was touching the ground was gonna die or get blowed off. That was helpful.
OMG this is almost as bad as the "Who's afraid of the Dark" thread...;)
Don't be the tallest thing out there. Don't stand next to the tallest thing out there. And as much as you might love that new bow, probably best to hang it somewhere a ways off! (Even if it's a yew longbow!)
I once had an elk call in range for a shot and lightling all around me and i elect to get up and move out of there. There is always another day.