Lost in the Woods

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Here are some pointers:

  • Learn to use a topographic map and compass, and always carry them with you. Trust
        your compass, many people get lost because they don't believe their compass. If you
        can, it helps to have a base line such as a straight road that's easy to find at the end of
        each day. For example, if you hunt south of the road that runs east-west, you know that
        by heading north, you will eventually come to the road.
  • Carry a flashlight and extra batteries and bulbs. There is nothing more frustrating than
        being struck in the dark. Even if you have to spend the night in the woods, a flashlight
        will be a great help in gathering firewood and/or finding shelter.
  • Have a watch and know what time it gets dark. Cloudy days prevent you from telling
        time by the sun. Many people leave too little time to get out of the woods.
  • Be prepared for weather. Check the forecast before going into the woods, and then
        assume the worst. Waterproof rain gear is a must. If it says flurries, prepare for a
        snowstorm. Better safe than sorry. Proper clothing can prevent hypothermia and save
        your life. In cold, wet weather, wear wool or synthetics. Do not wear cotton (this)
        includes blue jeans), wet cotton is colder than no clothing at all, it absorbs water and
        drains your body heat. A hat that covers the ears is also very important in cold weather.
        Without one, the head and neck radiate up to 40 percent of your body heat.
  • Bring waterproff matches and fire starter material. If you do have to spend the night
        in the woods, a fire will make the difference between a tolerable experience and a
        nightmare. Waterproof matches work better than cigarette lighters when wet. Also, the
        new "child proof" lighters can be difficult to operate with cold hands. A candle makes
        a good fire starter.
  • Bring extra food and water. Your body can't continue to exercise if you don't keep it
        fueled up. Becoming dehydrated or not getting enough to eat can also lead to
        hypothermia and/or poor judgment. If you plan on using water from streams in the
        woods, you will need to filter or treat it to avoid intestinal illness.
  • Wear a pack or carry clothing, food and water. You will need at least a fanny pack, but a
        knapsack holds more for cold weather. Remember, it's easier to stay warm when you're
        moving, but if you have to spend the night out you will want all the clothing you can get.
        Hypothermia can kill even when temperatures are above freezing. A tiny emergency
        "space blanket" can save your life.
  • Leave word with someone about the general area you will be hunting and when you are
        due back. Make sure they have the phone numbers of the local Forest Ranger.

       If you get lost or injured, the most important thing is to stay calm. Remember "STOP."
    S  is for Sit down. This is the first step towards calming down.

    T  is for Think. How didi I get here? How much time is left before dark?

    O  is for Observe. What mountain is that over there? Can I here any sounds-traffic, a
        river, shots? Where can I find firewood and shelter?

    P  is for Plan. Do you try to make it out or stay put at least until morning? In making this
        decision consider how much easier it is to gather firewood when it is light out. The rule
        of thumb is to make a pile as large as you think you will need to last the night. Then
        make 10 more just like it. Anyone who has spent all night out keeping a fire going will
        tell you they were surprised by how much wood they went through.

              Whatever you do, do not panic. Most people think it couldn't happen to them.
    By taking a few precautions before going into the woods, you can make your time more
    enjoyable, and also make life much easier on your family and friends who are waiting for
    you to return.



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