As I sat in my tree stand this afternoon, wondering what this week’s Tuesday Terror would be, I watched (and listened as) a big thunderstorm rumble across the horizon. To my right was a pine tree quite similar to the one I was sitting in. The only difference was the giant inner-wood crack that ran from crown to roots. It had obviously been zapped by mother nature recently. After seeing all of this, it was clear what today’s terror would be…Lightning.

Photo taken from swfwmd.state.fl.us

According to national geographic (and about a billion other sources), Florida is the lightning strike capital of the US. Over 1500 lightning strike deaths have occurred in this state alone. Why? Might you ask…

Well, take today for example. My first hunt of the 2011 archery season and I nearly keeled over from the heat. I’m not usually one to complain about it being too hot for anything, but…today was too hot. I was drenched before I even got out of the Jeep. To add, it was so humid I could see the steam rising off the dirt road. This heat generates afternoon storms like crazy and it’s these storms that produce so much lightning.

Now, I took a meteorology class a few years back…but I honestly can’t remember what they tried to teach me about lightning aside from the fact that strikes apparently occur from the ground up and what we see is the electricity going back up. There was some other crazy stuff they tried to teach me, but my brain exploded while trying to wrap it around the concepts. All I know is that it likes to strike the highest point nearby…and it’ll kill you. That’s enough for me.

Florida probably leads the country in deaths not only because of it’s weather, but because some of our favorite outdoor activities involve sitting in trees, sitting in boats, or swinging clubs at little white balls. All of these activities (or any outdoor activity to be fair) makes one vulnerable to lightning should there be a storm nearby.

I had my close call with lightning two summers back. While pulling in a stringer from a canal in south Florida, a bolt struck the water nearby and shocked me up to my elbows. That was more than enough to make me extremely wary of lightning from now on.

Just try and be smart about it. Don’t go stand in some field when a storm’s nearby, or find shelter under the tallest tree. Seek some low-lying place and make yourself as short as possible if you’re stuck outside. Otherwise, get inside…or at least in a car.

Even though lightning can be something beautiful to look at from a distance, it’s something you just don’t play around with up close. It’s kinda light Russian-Roulette with mother nature…There’s no telling where the next strike will land.

Lightning at night during my internship

Should have a report from my hunting trip coming out later this week. Rutting deer already? Bird-like dragonflies? Stay tuned!