November 18th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, and printed with permission by the Renville County Register

Yesterday, we discussed energy conservation, fatigue and hypothermia. Fueling our bodies, resting when necessary, and proper clothing can help to prevent loss of life from Hypothermia.

This week we would like to remind our outdoors lovers to start to think more about survival in the outdoors.

As temperatures fall and weather gets nasty at times, a person who is conscious of hypothermia may still need to be able to survive in an outdoor emergency.

We can list a lot of “what ifs” but you will certainly get the idea if we list only a few. How about a broken leg or ankle? What if you lost your compass on a cloudy day and you are a long way from your car? What if sudden nasty cold front and snowstorm comes on you and you are stuck out there in the storm. What if your cell phone failed out there? Just about anything can happen to turn a pleasant and exciting day into a life-threatening event. Many hunters, hikers and bird watchers seldom get far from their cars.

If wildlife lovers and other outdoors people don’t want to get out of sight of their car are they afraid of something? Do they fear weather emergencies? Are they afraid of getting lost? Must they be able to go to their car for coffee or lunch when they want to? These fears can be cured by preparation.

A simple or elaborate survival kit can be put together by anyone for help in surviving a bad outdoor emergency. Although I am currently “on hold” in being an outdoorsman right now due to health issues, I still carry a small backpack (day pack) in my pickup, just in case I decide to wander from the truck. This is beside the “stuff” I carry in my pockets of the jacket I wear that day.

My day pack is camouflage in color so is probably not the best color for deer hunting, but the rest of you should be orange then anyway. It works well for squirrel hunting, bird watching, duck hunting, etc. As I said before, I carry some items in my jacket pockets. They are a knife, compass, water-proof matches, toilet paper in a zipper bag and a small multi-tool. There is also a plastic zipper bag of candy for energy if I start to run out of gas, as they say. The cell phone is in a holster on the belt.

So, what is in the small day pack? You might be amazed. Extra socks (wool of course), a stocking cap, rope, gloves, flashlight, more toilet paper, a water bottle with a built-in filter, and a fire-starting kit with more water-proof matches and some birch bark tinder to start fires with.

There is also a signaling mirror tucked away in a special pouch of the day pack. A small first-aid kit is present there with the usual items. A police whistle will last longer than my vocal chords if I need to attract attention to my plight out there. An extra sharp knife is in that pouch too. Heavy cord to build a survival shelter and a small folding saw make work like that very easy.

The shelter can have my 5×7 foot vinyl fiber-reinforced tarp for wall and roof if I need to use it for that. A small “space” sleeping bag is present along with a “space” blanket that can be used in the shelter making or just wrapped around the person out there in the storm. More high-energy food is present, along with tea and sugar, buillon cubes for soup, and a surplus canteen cup to heat soup and tea in.

The contents can be determined by where you will be exploring and time of the year. Winter presents the worst conditions for a survival situation so that requires more gear.

Most of the year I carry a small fishing kit. It consists of a Grizzly Can with a few feet of braided fish line, some coiled monofilament six pound test leader material, small hooks, jigs, flies, and split shot sinkers. You can, of course, make a nice willow pole into a fishing rod if you need to. This is a great exercise for those of you who will start a “Free-Range Kid” at your house or if you are a group leader, this makes a worthwhile project for all members.

My back-up compass is in the day pack. As I mentioned before, I had to prove to a friend that his walking northwest was NOT the correct direction back to camp. He believed my two compasses and his. It took three. Stubborn fellow.

We will discuss some of the items in the kits you might carry from time to time. Especially this winter, for those of you who are youth leaders, plan now for starting fires in the snowy woods. Plan on collecting some birch bark, small candle stubs and make a Grizzly Can full of the candle stubs and Vaseline-soaked cotton balls for future starting of a winter fire. If you are prepared and can start a fire in a snowy woods with your Free-Range Kids, you are there my friend. Practice building a survival shelter from the materials we discussed above.

Plan. Practice. Make a survival kit. You will be a better outdoorsman.

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