Survival tips for hunters

Susan Cunningham

The No. 1 survival tip when heading into the backcountry to hunt is to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

That’s important, said Rob Schmitzer, “so that somebody knows when to ring the bell.”

Schmitzer, an outdoor recreation planner for the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig, said that if someone doesn’t know when to expect you back or where you went, it could be days before a search begins and even longer before someone knows where to start looking for you.

After that, be sure you have adequate supplies to spend a night or two in the backcountry.

When the unexpected happens and a hunter can’t find his or her way back to camp, there are steps they can take to increase their chances of being found and surviving in the outdoors.

The key is to stay put, build a fire, and not be running around in circles, which makes it harder for others to find you.

Charley Shimanski, education director for the Mountain Rescue Association and author of the “Mountain Rescue’s General Backcountry Safety” workbook, agreed that the key step is to tell someone exactly where you are going, and exactly when you expect to come back.

Another key is to know how to orient yourself with the basics: a map and compass. New technology such as handheld GPS systems can be helpful, but if batteries die, those machines can quickly become worthless.

Carrying a map and compass, as well as the nine other items that are considered “essential” for survival in the backcountry, such as a flashlight, extra clothing, food and water, a pocket knife and a first aid kit, should help hunters make it through the worst-case scenarios that they could encounter this hunting season.

For more information about surviving in the backcountry, go to the Mountain Rescue Association’s Web site at n

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