Survival techniques vital when hunting

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Dennis Clay

The general deer season begins this Saturday, Oct. 12. This week we are covering some items to consider as hunting groups head for the field this first weekend.

As an Army pilot we had a saying about being lost, ďNope, I was never lost, disoriented for a bit, but never lost.Ē

Call it what you want, being prepared if a hunter becomes lost is valuable training. The point is to make sure all hunters heading into the field has enough survival training to stay alive for a few days.

A hunter can hunt for 70 years and never become lost. On the other hand, a first-time hunter, no matter age, can become lost the first time in the field. This hunter doesnít need to be young, but a 50-year-old can become disoriented as well as a 15-year-old.

We have discussed various survival techniques over the years. Here is a review of some of them. First, anyone who realizes they are confused and not sure of the way back to camp, should stop and stay put. Donít panic but try to relax for a few minutes.

Even though the instruction above is to stop and stay put, it is permissible to survey your surroundings. If there is a visible clearing nearby, go to it. However, donít go searching for a clearing. There may not be one for miles.

At this point, the lost hunterís job is to build a camp: Gather firewood and build a fire; build a shelter using available materials, then continue to gather firewood and continue to improve your shelter.

In many parts of the Washington State the trees have branches coming out from near the base of the tree and curving down. This is a natural shelter. The area under the branches can be dry, even with a foot of snow on the ground.

Make sure all hunters know how to start a fire in all conditions. After all, if a youth hunter is responsible enough to handle a firearm, she/he is responsible enough to learn how to start a fire and carry fire-starting material.


All members of a hunting party should have a whistle in their pack or on their body. Whistles can be heard at a longer distance than just yelling.

Try this experiment with your hunting buddies and with your family members: Have a group stand in one spot. Have one person take 25 steps away from the group and then yell for help.

The person should then take another 25 steps and yell again. Eventually the person will be difficult to hear, no matter how loud they yell. At this point, the person yelling should blow the whistle.

Tomorrow: More survival techniques.

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