Most hunters drive to their hunting locations, many of which lie in remote locations or at least some distance off the beaten path. In more than one case, hunters have been stranded going or coming from hunting spots or have got vehicles stuck. I’ve personally experienced both, on more occasions than I’d like to admit. For just such occasions, besides the best hunting boots for your trip, you must have adequate equipment and supplies in your rig to rescue yourself. Getting stuck may be unnerving, but if you go prepared, it should never threaten your well-being.
Before you go, especially on a long trip, inspect the mechanical condition of your vehicle fluid levels, battery, heater, tire pressure, spare tire to ensure that everything is in good working order. Start with a full tank of fuel and fill up as often as possible along the way.
Let responsible persons know where you are going, what route you will be traveling, and a “no-later-than” time for your return. Tell them whom to call if you do not return on time, and stick to the plan. If you carry a cellular telephone or better in remote regions, a satellite phone make sure the battery is fully charged. Then prepare a vehicle survival kit.
What To Taking
Often you’ll put a lot of thought into the gear you’ll carry while hunting, but not much into the gear, you have in your vehicle. If stranded, similar needs such as warmth and shelter require the same kinds of items you might put in a pack: firestarters, signal mirror, whistle, knife, tarp or poncho, food, water, rope, sleeping bag or wool blanket, warm clothes, and even an ax.
To get a vehicle “unstuck,” however, requires unique tools jack, winch, shovel, and tow rope or chain. On highways, road flares or reflective cones are important safety items that will warn other drivers of your position and alert them to your predicament. ACB or emergency channel radio transmitter can bring a sticky situation to a quick and favorable dose. If you have the means to communicate, a GPS will enable you to give searchers your exact location, a far more precise way to communicate than a vague verbal exchange.
What to Do
First and foremost, don’t panic. Stay with your vehicle, it is a signal, a refuge, and a source of survival tools. Unless your rig takes a tumble off the mountain (in which case you will have additional issues to deal with), it will be on or near a human line of passage, which greatly increases your odds of being found. One exception: if you know exactly where you are and conditions are safe for you to seek help, do it.
Otherwise, consider your vehicle a ready-made shelter (unless it was damaged in some way and is no longer safe). You can start your engine periodically to run the heater for warmth. Keep running time to no more than 10 minutes each hour; less is preferable. Always clear away any blockages around the exhaust pipe, and crack open some windows to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.
While the engine is running, try to find a radio channel for storm updates or news about rescue efforts. Don’t sleep with the engine running, bundle up in warm clothes and sleeping bags or blankets, and keep your feet off the floorboards where cold air will collect. If you are in a large vehicle, partition off the front compartment of the vehicle (where you are) to conserve heat. If you are without blankets or a sleeping bag, you can remove the foam padding in the other seats to use for insulation (it might be ugly and cost money to repair, but your life is worth it).
If you’re near forested lands, you have the opportunity to start a fire, which will provide warmth and signal rescue workers. If you are stranded near a large field, stomp out a ground-to-air SOS or another signal. Be flexible and look at your options.
Your vehicle also supplies several “signals.” Remove mirrors to flash at passing aircraft. Compact Disks will work for signaling, as well.
Your hunt is a journey from the time you step out your door until you return. Take a few minutes and use these tips to ensure your safety throughout.
If you’re anything like me (you’re reading this, so it’s possible that you are), then you know how liberating it feels to find your meaning in this world by figuring out where you fit in with the outdoor realm. (TONY LOHMAN)