March 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm #2180
When bowhunting with my 30 year old nephew last fall in far northern WI, he shot a nice sized doe with the bow. Unfortunately the hit was not the best, and the deer went off with very little blood trail to go on. My brother and 2 other buddies hunting with us looked for a bit, and then gave it up as there was a lot of water on our property and they were getting soaked feet. My nephew however doggedly pursued the direction he was sure the deer took off on. When I finally joined the search, after my own hunt session, I was informed they did not know where he was despite repeated calling. I said I would look and just give me the general direction he was going in.
Mistake #1- I left to look without my pack which of course had my compass and GPS. Even though this is my property the deer went off on the neighbors, which is very thick woods and flat terrain features. Very cloudy out, no clear sun direction, about 11 AM. Finally found nephew with dead deer, very good, but he also did not have compass. Got lost going back, but finally figured out where the sun was and got back to my trail. This took way to long, about 40 extra minutes.
Mistake #2- Neither of us had our knives, which were in our packs back at the point of departure of where he shot the doe. So we had extra weight to drag through very thick woods. And as anyone knows who has shot a doe, there is no easy way to grab it, unlike a buck with the handy antlers God gave them.
Lessons- Have your key stuff with you, the bare essentials for a wooded area. like knife, compass and any chance of extended stay fire starting materials, and of course your weapon(s).
StingMarch 24, 2014 at 12:02 am #2222
Definitely good things to remember! I wouldn’t have thought about getting disoriented so closely to home, but you are right that it could easily happen in that setting. Glad it turned out okay, and it’s inspiring me to keep those skills updated!March 24, 2014 at 2:33 am #2244
A compass definitely, people get so used to having the GPS units they forget that a battery runs low.
I’d add a good loud whistle too. If you do get lost, just blow that every few minutes as you are traveling, the sound carries better than yelling and it won’t make you hoarse.March 25, 2014 at 4:08 pm #2761
Thanks for sharing your story, and good advice. I like to carry a few items in my clothing so that I can be sure I have them on hand, even if I might not have a pack with me. Rather to my surprise over the years I have found myself several times indoors in places like shopping centers and the power has gone off, and the lights with it.
On each occasion I was able to bring my torch/flashlight out. This not only helped me see, but the light gave comfort to others around me and helped them not to panic and to regain their spacial awareness.
Bugs Bunny: "I speak softly, but I carry a big stick."
Yosemite Sam: "Oh yeah? Well I speak LOUD! and I carry a BIGGER stick! and I use it, too!" BAM!March 26, 2014 at 1:12 am #3251
I have a little “survival tool” a bit bigger than a credit card, which has a compass and a blade.. as well as a can opener and a magnifying glass. Not the greatest..but would get you home.. and gut the deer.
I also have little “altoids packs” which fit in a pocket.. so you don’t leave it behind. Ist aid and a bic lighter, sweets and other stuff. And I usually put this in a bum bag which has a survival blanket, plastic sheet, and a length of cord. All for emergency.. lost in the hills on a rainy night. Lots of threads on the net about these kits.
The situation you describe is all to common….March 26, 2014 at 1:23 am #3254
Great ideas mentioned above: I would recommend–strongly–that you have those items at hand not only in rural situations but in urban environments as well: You might need them in order to make your way to a rural environment in a SHTF situation! The need for being prepared does NOT end when one enters an urban environment! Semper Paratus as they say!
“Ultimately, our history is written in steel
and I fear we may have forgotten the language.”March 26, 2014 at 11:54 pm #3777
I agree with having certain small essentials on your person at all times. I was once caught out overnight without my pack and it was a sobering reminder. On longer expeditions, I was frequently glad to have a knife and compass around my neck even when dropping my pack “just for a minute” to make a quick dash into the woods or around camp.
Your pack can contain all the cool stuff in the world, but if your don’t have it on you or you leave it in the car, it’s no good.March 30, 2014 at 1:38 am #5259
I like all the great suggestions here. Getting lost in the woods isn’t fun! When I was very young, my cousins and sisters and brothers all went on a “walk” when we were picnicking deep in the woods. My father was a fire ranger so he lived in the mountains in look-out towers. He knew the dangers so we were instructed to stay on the road and don’t go too far. They had to be able to hear us. Well, you know kids! There was a wonderful meadow that called to us. We left the road and went to the meadow. When the time came to leave the meadow we didn’t know the way out of it. There we were, lost in the deep woods. Of course, it didn’t take long before the parents began calling and calling for us. We were too far away – we didn’t hear them. It took all afternoon to finally get back to a road, then travel with tired small children. Finally, my father and mother found us wandering down a road. Were we in trouble? You bet. After that, there were no more “hikes” for the kids. There must have been about 6 or 7 of us, considering the size of the family. Lost in the woods is a bad experience.March 13, 2015 at 8:10 am #38816
I’d like to say that one needs to have a compass all the time. I remember being in place like Texas, New Orleans and New York in bad weather, no landmarks except for large buildings and trying to figure out your cardinal directions to orient a city map. They make a bid difference! And a mirror attached to them is a big bonus.March 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm #38828
Having gotten lost a couple times in the woods I can speak to how difficult it can be determining direction in rough terrain and on overcast days. Having a compass is a good idea, but before going into isolated settings you really need to have an understanding of what lies in what direction. If you don’t automatically know that, look at a map beforehand so as to have a basic idea of where you’ll be.
The same principles apply in urban settings. I always look at maps before going someplace new and carry maps in my vehicles.March 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm #38893
It’s not a bad idea for city dwellers to have compasses or a basic EDC bag with items that could be utilized in the event of an emergency.March 15, 2015 at 6:38 pm #38924
The compass is a valuable tool, but one has to know how to use it.
And be in the right mindset.
Long story short, hunting partner got turned around and hypothermic. Kept looking at compass but didn’t believe it. An extra 6 hours in the snow and almost died.March 15, 2015 at 6:59 pm #38925
It’s important to have faith in your tools. One day hunting on the top of a broad flat topped Mt. (a hill for westerners) I became disoriented because of the gray no sun weather. The way the compass pointed to go out was completely opposite of direction I perceived was correct. Even though I felt it was the wrong way I followed my compass, back to the right road. I figure it saved me 3 hours of walking down, up & down again, or all the way around.March 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm #38927
I hear you 74. Been there on more than one occasion. Getting ‘lost’ can lead to new opportunities or a waste of time and resources.March 15, 2015 at 7:15 pm #38930
During my down river kayaking trip, a while ago, I used a laptop with itopomaps to keep track of our location and progress. With gps and cell its easy. Compass however is good backup in case of accidents, like almost dumping it overboard once. There are places with no cell though. I can see having a personal locator beacon in that case and a compass on you all the time.. Also skiing in the backcountry. Exploring places you haven’t been before takes extra precautions. Wandering around the woods in the dark is a good way to get lost. Getting fogged in and losing the tent after going for a whiz. lol
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