Welcome to this special Fresh Afield blog post.
Be warned of our state’s newest invasive species threat--ZOMBIES!
While zombie management is largely left to the police, military and health agencies, conservation plays a role in protecting Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources--and Missourians--from this invasive species.
Hunters, campers and others in the outdoors and on conservation areas should know there is always the chance they may encounter a zombie while out in the field. Good preparation helps you know what to do if you encounter this newest invasive species in Missouri.
The zombie invasion is like the feral hog problem in parts of Missouri, and its management is similar. We do not encourage organized zombie hunts since that may encourage the intentional release of zombie swarms. It can also disrupt wildlife and hunting opportunities for the more than 500,000 living Missourians who enjoy hunting.
Some indications that you have a zombie in view:
- It has a gray-green dull skin tone.
- It is wearing inappropriate clothing for the season or terrain (no coat or shoes, for instance).
- It has open wounds, other injuries and/or missing or damaged limbs but no sign of bleeding.
- It does not respond to verbal stimulus or exhibit any interest in its immediate surroundings.
- It is trying to eat you.
Zombie Hunger and Habitat
Zombies require meat and brains. While human is the preferred source, fish and wildlife are another ready source of nourishment.
While zombies are primarily found in populated areas, there are zombies in undeveloped rural areas, far from cities and towns. Evidence suggests that these zombies are transient, and moving to populated areas in search of their primary food source: brains. They are known to travel in packs or swarms, especially near food sources, but it is not uncommon to find solitary zombies in the field.
Cold weather slows down zombies. When the weather is below freezing, zombies may "hibernate" under leaf litter or underwater until warmer spring weather.
Whether you are out in a tree stand, in a wetland or in a field, a few precautions combined with everyday hunter safety can ensure that you make it back alive.
- Always let someone know where you are hunting (or fishing, hiking, walking, camping) and when you expect to return. Leave a map or GPS coordinates with your family and in your vehicle.
- Avoid cauliflower fields. Since cauliflowers appear brain-like, they often lure zombies.
- Meat processors and other areas of concentrated meat and brains also attract zombies. Tip: MDC offers programs and events, including how to process your own deer.
- If you encounter a large pack of zombies, escape rather than trying to fight them alone. While you may be able to run faster, remember that zombies are relentless at pursuit. Get to a vehicle and a safe zone.
If in the suburban outdoors, remember that shopping malls and big-box stores may serve as fortresses against the walking dead, but also attract zombies in large numbers.
Tree Stand Safety
A tree stand is a readily defensible position, but keep in mind that free-standing tree stands can be toppled by a small pack of zombies. Follow manufacturers' instructions when setting up your stand. There are unconfirmed reports that some zombies may be capable of climbing tree stands.
Always practice proper tree-stand safety and wear a safety harness. Falling from a tree stand can injure you or make you dead. Falling from a tree stand into the gaping maw of a zombie can make you undead.
Waterfowl Hunting and Hunting with Dogs
Zombies do not require air and can stay submerged underwater for extended periods of time. While MDC managed waterfowl areas are believed to be zombie-free, use caution when wading through murky water and always check your blinds before entering. Consider wearing a shark suit or other body armor over your waders to prevent zombie bites from breaking through both your waders and your skin. If you use a boat to retrieve your game, put a spike or hammerhead on one end of your pole to use as a handy defense tool if you encounter the undead.
Dogs are usually very sensitive to zombies and will alert you to their presence. They cannot, however, sense submerged zombies. Scout out your wetlands before hunting and do not let your dog retrieve game if there are signs of zombies. Don't let man's best friend turn into man's worst fiend.
Remember that deer and turkey cannot be taken with the use of dogs.
Field Tips for Foresters and Others in the Woods
Chainsaws, axes and machetes are excellent weapons in quickly "dispatching" zombies. Remember that a severed zombie head can still bite.
Controlled fire has shown to be a slower-but-still-effective weapon in "dispatching" the walking dead. Complete incineration or explosion of the zombie is necessary to prevent further animation.
Always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) during close encounters with the undead to prevent direct contact with blood and brains since these are known to transmit the associated virus.
Note to Anglers
If you snag a zombie, CUT THE LINE!
Trout anglers, now is a good time to replace your porous-soled waders and boots with something non-porous and zombie-resistant. This has the added benefit of reducing the spread of rock snot (didymo).
During the fall gigging season, a gig is an effective tool against zombies.
This was your trick! Suggested treat: BRAINS!