John's Journal... Entry 113, Day 2
LOST IN DEER COUNTRY
EDITOR'S NOTE: Probably every outdoorsman who has spent hours hunting in unfamiliar places has at some time in his life been lost in the woods. To enable you to navigate more effectively and safely through deer country and to get into these remote locations where big bucks stay, the Night Hawk internet team interviewed some of the nation's leading woods navigators and survivalists.
"Follow the rule of STOP," McHugh suggests. "STOP tells you to sit, think, observe and plan. Your biggest enemy is panic, because you will act irrationally and waste precious time, strength and energy. Instead, sit down, calm down, and admit to yourself that you are lost. Then think about what you need to survive. Obviously your surroundings, your circumstances, the time of day, the weather and the terrain will help determine what you need to survive the rest of the day and possibly the night. Look around for water, high ground, smoke in the distance, the position of the sun or anything that may help lead you out of the woods to reach help. The final step is to plan. Make a plan using the equipment you've brought with you and the materials you can gather in your immediate surroundings to help you survive. Then, once you make that plan, stick with it."
The time when the hunter faces the worst rush of panic and fear usually are as the sun goes down. "If you're caught in deer country, and night is falling, make the decision to spend the night in the woods rather than wander around in the darkness where you may get hurt," Kavalauskas mentioned. "If the weather is cold, and snow is on the ground, you need to find shelter and build a fire to keep warm. If you can locate a clearing, build a fire to signal people who may be coming to look for you."
Not being able to return to your camp or your vehicle is not the most important problem you will have to deal with if you are lost. Fear is the main problem. "When you become lost, you face the fear of the unknown, the fear of not being able to survive, the fear of not being found, and the fear of dying." Street explains. "If you allow these fears to overtake you when you are lost, you will panic, make mistakes, possibly get hurt, and use poor judgment. Once you accept the fact you are lost, deal with each one of these fears with a positive attitude. You have to decide that: (1) you are not going to die; (2) you are going to be found and (3) you can deal with any problem you may have to face before being found."
TOMORROW: HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY OUT OF THE WOODS