by Brady Raymond
Well, it’s getting closer every day. Closer to the day we can head out to the woods and fill our baskets with nature’s bounty, or maybe just get skunked. The only thing I think worse than an empty basket is not knowing how to find your way back to the car. Getting lost in the woods is a serious thing to think about, and if you’ve spent much time out there you realize just how quickly mother nature can swallow you up, and sometimes never spit you back out. Preparedness is a relative thing, there are probably people who could make it longer with less and be more comfortable too.
First things first, know where you are going, tell people when and where you are going (at least roughly). Before I go into some items you should bring along with you, let me stress one other thing, get your bearings before setting out. What general direction are you heading in, what time is it, and how long do you have before it gets dark?
I’m sure your smartphone has apps for some of the things that follow, and if your phone saves your life great, but I recommend highly that you have the following on you (not in the car, on you) while in the woods.
- A very loud whistle, one for each member of your group
- First aide
- Bright clothing, especially during hunting season
The whistle signals are
-One 2-second blast = Where are you? (This can be initiated by anyone and demands a one-blast response.)
-Two blasts of 2 seconds each = Come to me. (This signal is mainly used by the group leader.)
-Three 2-second blasts = Emergency (This can be used by anyone.)
These items are battery free with the exception of the watch, which typically last for a long time, sometimes years. A GPS and 2-way radio are also good items to pack but make sure you know how to use them before heading out, and they should not be a substitute for a compass and whistle. Make sure you dress in layers and have proper footwear. The weather can change very quickly in the mountains and exposure to the elements zaps the energy out of you very quickly. Making decisions when you’re cold and wet suddenly just got a lot harder.
This article isn’t intended as an all inclusive wilderness safety document. It is a reminder that nature can be unforgiving, and you are responsible first and foremost for your own safety. With that said discuss this with your hunting group while driving out to your secret spot, the whistle signals, what channel the radios should be set to, etc… If you have questions get them answered, come to a membership meeting and ask, if you’re a member and it’s your first field trip connect with someone who knows more than you do and learn what you can. The internet is full of resources some excellent some not so, but it can be a great resource as long as you cross reference, and use a little common sense.