As you make arrangements to go on a hunt, trail bike, hike or whatever, remember to bring some friends along with you in case you run into any trouble or get lost while in the backwoods. What kind of friends do you need?
1. New Electronic Equipment: The key to success here is to simply use gear that you know how to use under all conditions. We started our trip and along with good maps and a GPS, all is proceeding smoothly. Back in 2009 I purchased what Bushnell calls their Back Track GPS. To use it, simply turn it on, mark the area, turn it off and head out. When ready to return, turn it back on and follow the arrow to the exact point that you left hours earlier. (A tip: Attach an orange ribbon in the event you drop your handheld GPS. We can also use a compass but unfortunately, many do not know how to implement its features. Something to learn for backup!)
2. Communications: Cell phones have become a part of our lives and that is convenient. Yet in certain remote areas, there is no signal. For such zones and to keep in communication with fellow hunters in the event of an emergency, then two-way radios can be helpful. When I'm deep enough in the woods to not have a signal, I turn on our Midland X-Talker two-way radios every hour to make sure all is ok.
3. Basic Gear: For safety, there are a few things you should have in your vehicle, gear that can easily be packed with you on that hunt or hike. One such item is a folding survival saw which is light to carry and nice to have when building a shelter.
a: Fire starters such as matches, a lighter, striker or better yet, carry all three.
b: Flashlight. A tip here is to always carry an extra battery for back-up. I also have a whistle with a light and compass plus magnifier and mirror, all for back up.
c. Survival blanket or trash bag: These space age blankets are small and light and with that, easily fit into one's back pack. Another inexpensive "blanket" of sorts is a heavy duty trash bag. In an emergency, it can be used to keep the wind from blowing through one's jacket and to keep dry during a rain storm.
d. Game Sled: What is in reality a game gurney used to easily extract your deer, it has another purpose: to extract a hunter if someone becomes injured. It can also be used as a shelter, and folds into a small package for convenient carry.
4. Other Gear: A knife, Micro Signal Mirror, a Kangee tactical tomahawk and rope. When biking, hiking or hunting, consider carrying a handgun along with your concealed firearm permit when it is legal in the jurisdiction you'll be having your adventure.
In closing, a few more words of advice. When I've talked with folks who've been lost in the wilderness, even if only for a few hours, here are the fears most all experienced:
First, there is a little panic from being alone and not knowing how to get back to point B. In this situation, it is best to sit down to clear the mind and formulate a plan.
The next was worrying about dangerous animals. A lot of this is from movies; most animals don't want any part of you. Just do not leave food open inside a tent since that means meal time. Another is darkness! Do not let your imagination take over; before it starts to get dark, make a shelter, a fire and stay put. Walking around blindly is when we are more likely to get hurt. Hunger is also a concern but we can survive without eating frequently. Water is far more critical since we can't last much longer than three days without it. This is why it is a good idea to carry a method to purify water with us at all times. Temperature extremes come into play and this can also become a problem since if too hot, we dehydrate and if too cold, hypothermia can become a killer. If hot or cold, start that fire and stay put. If you let others know where you went and you do not return, it is likely someone is looking for you and a fire makes for a good signal. Whatever you do, stay calm and use your brain since when frightened we become confused and with that, make bad decisions.