THIS TWO-POUND KIT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE

Those who go into the outdoors prepared rarely need rescuing, but when they do it is usually not a disaster story. Most that are lost or stranded in the backcountry of the lower 48 states in the U.S. are found within the first 72 hours, provided they do a few things correctly.

Several years ago I was on a search for a lost hunter who had been missing two days. We found him the third day. It was pouring rain when the smoke from his fire was spotted. Arriving at his survival camp we found him to be very comfortable and, while totally lost, we found him in good spirits and in good condition. He used his survival kit to build a comfortable camp and wait for rescue.

Go on outdoor adventures prepared to spend three extra, unexpected, days in the backcountry. To do this, you need to take with you items that will give you quick protection from inclement weather, retain body heat, enable you to start a fire, provide you with safe drinking water, keep you safe from biting insects and give you at least two methods of signaling for help beyond a cell phone or two-way radio. These items make up your personal survival kit. When combined with your belt knife they give you the edge you need to survive.

The survival kit is important not only for its life-saving merits, but for comfort on those outings when a night must be spent in the woods or streamside, unexpectedly. I have been forced on many occasions to spend an unexpected night or two in the woods, I didn’t plan on, because an outfitter was late picking me up, climbing down a mountain in the dark was too dangerous, a motor conked on my boat, a rain swollen creek blocked my return, etc. Each time, my two-pound survival kit provided me with a comfortable camp. Without it the wait would have been cold and dangerous.

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SURVIVING AN UNPLANNED NIGHT IN THE WOODS

Survival was the furthermost thing from Ray's mind when he decided to take an afternoon rabbit hunt. Taking along his three beagles, he began venturing into the woods. He didn't give any thought to the possibility of getting lost. So he had no survival gear with him-not even a pack of matches.

For the next few hours, Ray became completely involved in the hunt and forgot, as hunters often do, about time and keeping his bearings. Then suddenly, the sun set and Ray realized he was lost. On an ordinary night in Kentucky, he would have spent a few uncomfortable hours alone in the woods. Then at first light he would find his way back home.

But an unusually severe cold front set in with a sudden downpour that turned to sleet, plunging temperatures into the single digits. Ray suddenly found himself in a serious survival situation, but he stayed calm and took the necessary steps to stay alive.

Because Ray had no matches with him, his most immediate problem was sustaining body heat throughout the night. He knew if he could do that, he would probably be around to tell his friends this adventure. Seeking shelter, he discovered a small cave where he and his dogs took refuge. Ray then gathered leaves and positioned the dogs around him to absorb their warmth. This simple idea probably saved his life.

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