Oct 26, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
The chain is about to begin. In the upper-Midwest and then week after week rolling south, general gun deer seasons are about to open. Hunters young and old face some sleepless nights anticipating opening morning and the opportunities it may bring. Trail cameras amp the excitement even higher as they make it possible to “know” what’s out there waiting for you rather than simply guess from the sign you’ve seen.
With all the excitement and all there is to remember to take along to the camp and woods, one piece of gear that’s sometimes neglected is a well-stocked survival kit.
Few deer hunters today anticipate needing gear to help them survive when they are hunting less than a mile from their car or camp. Some stands come complete with heat and perhaps even refrigeration! Having to rub two sticks together to build a fire to stay alive is an unlikely scenario, indeed. Yet the contents of a survival kit, at least in my opinion, plays two roles – first, it’s there if you should face a true survival situation, and second, it can help keep you comfortable even if your life isn’t threatened by the elements.
On Anticosti Island some years back, I made a stupid miscalculation. I ended up bogging an ATV while crossing a stream that was a lot deeper than I figured it was. The machine’s engine kept running, but the transmission flooded out and the bike wouldn’t move. I hopped off midstream and tried to push it up the other bank. No go.
Fortunately I was in the company of a couple other hunters on ATVs who quickly tossed me a rope and we pulled my incapacitated machine back out of the creek. Unfortunately I was wet up past my belly button. Temps were cool (in the low 20s F), but getting colder. We were a couple miles from the lodge, but faced waiting to cross the creek until the tide went out again which would have been well after dark. I probably wouldn’t die, but it would have been an uncomfortable hike or wait to say the least.
Remembering the waterproof survival kit in my day pack, we went about gathering some tinder, kindling and wood. I dug out the candle and waterproof matches and soon had a small, growing fire built. Then I stripped down to my skivvies and stood as close to the fire as I dared. We arranged driftwood and used the parachute cord from the survival kit to hang socks, boots, pants and the rest to catch the heat.
It took a couple of hours, but by the time we could cross the creek, I and my clothes were pretty much dried out. I’d also discovered the granola bars and dried fruit with which I’d supplemented the survival kit the season before. We boiled some water and made cups of instant coffee that were in there, too.
This event turned out to be an added adventure to an already wonderful place and hunt. It was made much more comfortable … and now pleasant in the telling… because of the survival kit.
Don’t forget or neglect yours when you head into the woods on opening morning. I hope you won’t have to use it, but having it will make you a lot more comfortable if you do.
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