This year, I have decided to do something a little earlier than normal. I am going to talk about getting ready for the upcoming deer seasons. Ah, not so fast. If you think I am referring to all the redundant rhetoric about rifles, calibers, sighting in and what's new to buy, you are way off the mark.
I am referring to is the one thing that makes a man's skin crawl going hunting and admitting he is lost!
Seriously, having been a member of a search and rescue unit, I know first-hand that many men will not acknowledge the situation they are in when it confronts them. Women seem to be a little more even-headed in such times. Sorry guys it's the truth. I know most hunter's go afield with little other than their rifles (and of course their clothes). Some may take a candy bar or a sandwich. Some may take a thermos of coffee. But few are prepared to spend the night in the woods, either by design or by accident.
Every hunter is not Lanny Benoit, willing to spend as many nights in the woods as necessary to get that big buck he has been tracking. But there you are, looking at tracks at least 7 inches long. The marks in the snow from his antler tines are over two feet wide. Heart pumping, off you go. If a Benoit can do this, so can I.â you say to yourself. A glance at your watch ânoon plenty of time left.â You dog those tracks, your tracks right on top of his (you haven't been listening to Lanny talk about tracking). You check your watch âoh oh 4 oclock. An hour of daylight left. Now what? Which way is the truck? It looks like a storm. Man am I hungry.â
This happens a lot more than you think. Be prepared this year, without spending a ton of dough. Now for the lint. You all have thrown a bunch of dryer lint in the trash. This year, take a quart plastic bag and fill it with that dried lint. Lint burns hot and fast and only adds a couple of ounces to your pack. Also include a couple of different methods of lighting the lint, wax-covered matches, wind-proof lighter or the such are perfect. A fire can be a life saver.
With fall in the air, take a few minutes and go on line. Look at Sportsman's Guide, Cheaper Than Dirt or Sierra Trading Post and stock up on your emergency needs. None of these places will rob you. You can pick up decent first aid kits for under 15 bucks. Space sportsman's blankets (the shiny ones that say they can save your life) are around $2.00 each. I carry six. They weigh nothing, but six gives me enough to make a shelter and still cover myself up with. Carry a half-dozen nutrition bars (I know they taste like molasses flavored deer dung, but they have lots of energy) and a package of hotdogs. Don't forget to take some water or coffee with you.
You never get lost?
Several years ago, in Maine, a hunter left his camper for a short hunt. He told his companions he was headed to the top of a hill in the distance, about Â½ mile as the crow flies. It was 6:00 AM. At dark, his friends were becoming concerned. By 10:00 PM, they decided to call for help. Around 11:00 PM eight friends and neighbors with lanterns and flashlights tried to find the lost hunter. It was late in November and a cold spell was in full force. Lows were expected in the single digits. Exhausted, the group came back in at daylight. A rescue team was called (which should have been the first call). They brought cold-trail dogs with them.
At 10:00 AM, they found where the hunter had been on top of the hill. They found where he headed north down the hill, instead of east. At 1:00 PM they found his outer jacket. At 2:30 they found his back pack, with a full thermos of coffee in it (this small amount of liquid might have altered the outcome). At 3:00 they found his sweater and rifle. At 4:00 the hunter was spotted sitting down and leaning against a tree. As it turned out, in his panicked and dehydrated wanderings, he had ended up back within a hundred yards of the road, within eyesight of his pickup truck. He was a 15 year veteran hunter. A little foresight would have saved his life. But he was not prepared and panicked. .
Take emergency supplies with you, topo map, compass and/or GPS and maybe an EBay walkie-talkie. Be ready for a safe year. When you head outdoors, take a youngster with you and pass it forward. Remember enjoy the outdoors but do it cheaply. God Bless.