Bushlore Topics > Wilderness Survival

Survival, when fun turns into serious business.

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Moe M.:

  We've (some of us) have been discussing gear allot on the forum lately,  Knives,  Cookware,  Axes,  pack load outs, going light,  day packs vs. overnight or extended stay packs,  types and how much food do we bring with us on a day scout,  or for a long weekend.
  All these discussions are good,  we don't always learn something new together,  but we all learn at some point in the discussions and make use of it,  while I do enjoy talking about gear, skills, and how we apply them I just take them for what they are and don't carry the thought too far,  most of us have too much gear,  and most of us have pretty good wilderness and self reliance skills.
  What got me started on this thread was a Video on U-Tube made by a fellow up in Canada who's site goes by the name of Bushcraft Bartons,  I have enjoyed his videos for quite a while,  a couple of nights ago I watched one of his newer videos, this one was a departure from his normal format,  he set up a scenario where he played a Hunter out for a morning hunt,  not finding any game in the area he was familiar in and being frustrated about it he made the decision to go deeper into the forrest than he had gone before in that area,  at a little after noon he decided to rest a bit and then turn back.
 After a short rest he picked up his gun and game bag and started to move out,  it had gotten overcast and not knowing the area he suddenly became aware that he wasn't sure of his direction to get back to where he had parked his truck that morning,  so he decided to climb a steep hill in order to get a better look at where he was and perhaps spot some landmark that he might recognize.
 On the way up the hill he tripped and tumbled down the hill for about 40 feet coming to a stop against a huge pine tree,  then he felt a serious pain in his arm and shoulder that almost made him loose consciousness,  his arm was either broken or dislocated, after righting himself he managed to use his scarf to capture his arm to ease the pain and prevent more damage,  he was thinking, but not as well as he could have if the stress of being lost and the pain suffered in the fall had not affected his power to reason.
 Keep in mind,  this guy is a woodsman,  he's comfortable in the woods,  and he has wilderness skills,  knowing that he couldn't stay where he was and only having a few hours of daylight left at best he had to get back up the hill and find some flat ground in a sheltered area,  after doing that he sat down to rest and take stock of his resources,  in his pockets and game bag he had his fixed blade knife,  a ferro rod, a little tinder,  a SS cup, a small flash light,  a candy bar, a liter plastic bottle of water  and an extra pair of socks,  that was it,  he was going out to hunt for a few hours in a place he knew well,  he didn't need a compass or a topo map,  he was going to be home around lunch time, he didn't need to pack food,  and he had a half dozen shotgun shells for his gun,  His Gun, where was his gun,  it flew out of his hand when he fell,  and he didn't retrieve it. 
  He knew it would get dark soon,  and that would bring bitter cold,  and it looked like maybe some snow,  so he collected some pine boughs and made a quick shelter,  then he collected fire wood by breaking off the dead bottom branches from pine trees and breaking a few standing deadwood saplings between a crotch in a tree,  having only one arm made it difficult at best,  but he made a fire lay and used some of his tinder and some birch bark he found to make a birds nest,  next he planted his knife in a downed log and with one hand used his ferro rod against his knife to ignite the tinder and get a campfire going.
  Once that was done he poured about half his water into his glazier cup, added some pine needles and made himself some hot tea to bring his core temp back up,  all this shows that the guy was experienced, he was thinking,  he was doing allot of things right,  but he had also made a lot of serious errors in judgement.
  After having the hot tea and building up his fire he curled up in his shelter to rest............... .

  Now before you start posting,  wait for the rest of the story,  it won't be long.

Moe M.:

  Ok,  I'm back,  now before I go on with this story I want you to know why it struck home with me and has given me pause to do some deep thinking and reflecting on the way I prepair for just a simple walk in the woods on a sunny afternoon,  or go out in search of bushy tails for a mornings hunt.
  Way back when I was a young man,  the same kind if event happened to me,  I was hunting in the North Central part of Maine near the Canadian border in an area of the state that I had never hunted before,  I was only hunting that stretch of woods for the morning and planing to try another in the afternoon,  all i had with me was a pocket survival kit (which I found out the hard way wasn't much good for real survival),  to shorten the story up a little I got drawn into a cedar swamp by a big and crafty  doe,  it had been snowing at a rate of 2" per hour when I finally decided to give up the chase and get back to my truck where I was to meet up with my hunting buddies.
  The only problem was that I was lost,  it was almost a white out,  and my compass had pointed right to my gun barrel when I took a reading on my way in,  Like most people my first action was to panic,  I ran in one direction then the other,  I got hot and started stripping off my hat and coat,  and then it got calm and I knew I was going to spend the night in a blizzard with very little in the way of resources.
  About five miles from where I was another hunting party had gone in about the same time I did,  two brothers and a friend in their mid twenties,  like me they were supposed to meet at their vehicle at noon time,  the friend and one brother came out of the woods a little after noon,  they waited for the other brother who never showed,  so the the brother told his friend to wait there in case the missing brother returned and he went in search of his sibling,  20 minutes later the missing brother came out of the woods,  the other brothers body was recovered a few days later by a rescue chopper in a clear cut about two miles into the woods,  he had froze to death.
  I was lucky,  I collected wood, built a fire and a shelter in expectation of staying the night,  my friends waited about an hour, when I didn't show up they stared firing three shots and waiting for me to return a shot, then they started to blow the horn on one of the trucks,  from where I was I could hear it and walk in that direction, finally finding my way out,  but it could have ended much worse than just being ribbed by my friends.
 It's easy to Monday morning quarterback when the game was lost on sunday and you weren't playing.   :)

 So on with the story.

Moe M.:

  Ok,  so our hunter has fallen asleep,  it's bitter cold,  his fire has died down,  he's in great pain, he's lamenting how this could have happened to him when he hears something,  he's not sure what it is but he starts to yell,  "Hey, who's out there,  I'm over here, I'm injured,  I need help",  no one answers,  he hears it again,  so he grabs his flash light hoping to signal who ever is making the noise,  then he walks to the edge of his camp,  hears the noise again and he again yells out for help,  nothing,  so he ventures further into the woods in search of the sound,  and his flashlight goes out,  bulb burnt, batteries dead, he doesn't know, all he knows is that he can't see his hand in front of his face,  he's numb with cold,  and he's too tired to move,  he just needs to rest, close his eyes for a few minutes ................... ...................

  Do you pack enough in your minimalist survival kit to survive an unexpected stay in the woods ?

  Now we are open for discussion. 


Good thread.  Even down here in central FL, we can experience deadly temps and weather.  We always allow an emergency bag.  And have used it.  We've learned a lot during our P and M's.  I'm loosening up a lot this year as far as gear.   Maybe a one hand camp maybe a next step... >:D

It depends on the area you are in.  When I was elk hunting in Colorado the basin I hunted in was a little hard to keep your directions in due to the terrain and woods.  In the eastern part of the basin you could head downhill and down stream and come out at the highway but if you were too far west in the basin and got turned around you would go into an area with few roads and no ranches.  I always carried a USGS topo map, compass, space blanket, fire starting tools, mittens and a wool hat in the fall hunts up there.   If you fell and were injured to the point you couldn't walk it was best to have a box of shells to fire three shot volleys. 

While I never got in trouble out there we were always ready.  Other places I went were much easier to retain your directions and some of the gear was left out. 

Regardless of where we went we always told our wives or friends where we were going and when we were returning.  This was before cell phones and gps units so those things never entered into our gear choices.   


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