Saturday, February 1, 2014


PLAN:   Plan for what?   Essentially you have four choices.   

  1.  Plan to stay put on a short term basis because you know help is on the way soon and has been confirmed. (This is the best scenario)  --or 
  2. Plan to stay put on a long term or undetermined basis because you have no idea if help will come and you are likely not able to travel. –or 
  3. Plan to leave and you have a good idea where you are going and you must leave.  – or
  4. Plan to leave and you have no idea where you are going but you must leave. (probably the worst scenario)
The big question then is to stay put or move on.   While this may depend on many things such as your supplies, weather, ability to travel, knowledge of where to go for safety and many other factors,  IT IS MOST GENERALLY BEST TO STAY PUT especially if you left a plan with others who are expecting you and they know where you will be so appropriate search and rescue efforts can take place with a better chance of success.  If you left your trip plan with others then by all means stay put as much as possible and focus on surviving until rescuers find you.     If after several days of staying put and there are no signs of rescuers, you may have to consider the possibility of moving on and finding your way to safety.  If you left no trip plan with someone back home and you did not contact local rangers or authorities about your plans then you will not have much choice but to try to find your own way from the start.  If you are lost and must on and have you have no idea where you are going, according to the degrees of the compass, you have one chance that you will head in the best direction from the start and 364 chances of going a less favorable direction.  At this point you would quickly begin to understand and appreciate the value of having a map and compass and knowing how to use them to help your situation.   Even in the worst scenario though- stay calm, think clearly and keep a positive attitude -  YOU CAN SURVIVE. 

Whether you stay put or move on your plan should involve prioritized needs.  If you are with other people be sure to consult with them to come up with your best plan and how to systematically make it a success.  Your plan should involve making the best use of your resources and conserving energy as much as possible.  Take time to come up with a well thought out plan.  Priorities should generally be in this order---  medical care, shelter and fire, signaling for help, water and food.  Follow the plan but be open to adjustments to the plan if required to deal with changing situations.   

If you must travel, be sure to leave as many signs along the way to help searchers know which way you are heading.  This will likely help them find you quicker.  



If you do choose to move on and you come to safety or you are no longer lost.  BE SURE TO CONTACT AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY so people do not continue to search for you and put their lives at risk while you are enjoying a great meal at a restaurant 

*I would like to dedicate this edition of my blog to: the five people who lost their lives recently in an airplane crash in Yellow Pine Idaho - at Antimony Ridge, and to: the many people involved in the search and rescue efforts and to: the families that lost loved ones.  I express my condolences and wish you comfort. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Having the talent and skill to observe your surroundings and understand potential uses for materials  (natural and man-made) can go a long way to increase your potential for  survival in the wilderness.    Keep a constant awareness of your surroundings.  Evaluate  your options for survival and observe the weather, terrain, available supplies and equipment, your personal capabilities and the abilities of your companions if any.  Consulting  with your companions regarding your options may present additional observations that you may not have considered.  Taking time to constantly observe your surroundings and situation can save lots of time and effort that may otherwise compound your situation.      

First observe you immediate condition and surroundings.  If there are immediate dangers present, then do what is necessary to address these situations.  While there are often materials provided in nature that may be useful, perhaps you or a member of your group already have something on you that may be useful.  While you may observe that there is wood and tinder for making a fire and maybe some stones that can be used to make a spark needed for a fire, if somebody in your group has a lighter in their pocket or survival kit then maybe keep the stones for later use if needed but use the lighter for now.  While you may observe natural materials that may be useful for stopping a bleeding wound, first use items from an available first aid kit when available.    While you may observe some obsidian stones around which are very useful for making knives,  if you already have knives with you or within your group, then you may be able to forego making obsidian knives.  There is generally not much point looking for items provided by nature if you already have a suitable tool for the job.    Still, it is always good to make mental note of items in your surroundings that may be useful or that may present problems.    


Perhaps your observations will dictate that finding shelter is an immediate priority or  perhaps shelter will be secondary to giving first aid in medical situations.  Maybe nighttime is coming soon and you find yourself in an unfamiliar area and it is best to stay put for the night, make yourself as comfortable as possible and look for better options when you have daylight to help in your observations. 

One fun activity you might try and it is easy to do -  if you are hiking or even driving down the road, look at the area you are in and observe items (natural and manmade), then  along with your observations determine at least three ways an item may be useful in a wilderness survival situation.

While observation goes hand in hand in many ways with the prior blog “THINK” it should involve using all your different senses as much as possible along with your thinking.    Thinking is good but observation can be a tremendous support that your thinking is heading in the right direction.  You may be lost and thinking to go in a certain direction for help but if you happen to smell bacon cooking, it may be worthwhile to follow your nose and perhaps find some campers who are cooking breakfast and who are not lost.  Taking time to look, listen, feel or even taste depending on the situation will help your observations which will greatly improve your success in the next big step – PLAN. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

T is for THINK

You took a break and you took time to stop and stay put.  Now it is time to think. 
 There are lots of things to think about such as –
1.  Are you in a position of immediate danger such as in the path of an avalanche, possible flash flood or fire which requires you to move? 
2. Do you or anybody in your group need medication or have special medical needs to consider?   How long will the supply of  required medications last?  Are the medications with you?
3. Is it going to be dark soon and unsafe for travel ?   
4.  Are there people who will quickly be aware that you are missing?  Does anybody know where you are?  Did you leave a plan with more than one person so they know to come looking for you or to contact the appropriate authorities? 
5.  Is there a shelter nearby that can be safely used for the night?  Do you need to find or construct shelter for the night? 
6.  Think about the weather and possibility of a storm. 
7.    Do you have any survival equipment with you?  Think about what supplies you have with you – if no survival kit, what do you have in your pockets that may be useful? 
8.   If you are in a group that is in a wilderness survival situation – think about the needs of the weakest member of your group. 
9.   Think how far away (time wise) you have wandered from a camp where other people will be. 
10.  Are you in a well traveled area where somebody will very likely come along soon who could help? 
11.  When was the last time you ate or drank and how long will you or your group be able to survive with the food and drink you have with you?  Do you have plenty of water or is some readily available in nature for safe use?
12.  Is somebody likely to hear or see a signal from you?
13.  Are you able to contact somebody with a cell phone and describe where you are at and explain your situation? 

14. Are you on your own or in a group of people?  If in a group, what skills are within the group and is there somebody likely to panic who needs a good partner to stay with them?  Who is the weakest member of the group and what needs to be done to help this person? 

Above all keep your thoughts realistic and positive.  It does no good to be unrealistic about your situation and it will certainly not be good to become negative or despondent.  Help others keep positive attitudes and thoughts about the situation also.  If there is a very negative person in the group, take that person aside and explain to them the importance of them having a more positive attitude to help the rest of the group.  Give that person a task that will be helpful for the situation and help them to focus in a positive way.  
Taking time to think involves making an inventory of options before you make any moves and thinking  about the possible repercussions of each of option  Prioritize each separate need, such as attending to an injury before choosing a plan of action.  If there are readily apparent immediate needs then take care of these first.  Remember that your goal is to survive and be found alive.  Surviving may not be really comfortable in some situations but with time you can improve on the situation.  Getting out of immediate dangers is definitely an immediate priority.   Taking time to think will also help prevent panicking.  Panicking is not helpful when trying to survive.  This is a great time to use your brain preparing to move on if needed or to make things safer and more comfortable for staying put.   Your most important asset is your great brain -. use it! Don't Panic! Move with deliberate care. Think first, so you have no regrets later. Take no action, even a foot step, until you have thought it through.  Unrecoverable mistakes and injuries, potentially serious in a survival situation, occur when we act before  engaging our brains.  If you are with a group of people, two heads are often better than one for coming up with helpful  ideas.   

Think about your current situation. Again, do not think negative thoughts but be realistic about your situation and your abilities.   Be cognizant of group dynamics if you are with other people,  organize each persons strengths and put them to good use.   The good thing is you are still alive.  Keep the positive mental attitude to stay alive and be rescued.  Taking mental inventory of your options before you make any moves and thinking about the possible repercussions of each option will help you prioritize your separate needs.
Thinking about these questions and others will prompt you to take appropriate actions and avoid actions which may worsen your condition.  Once you have taken to think, the next step (OBSERVE) of the S.T.O.P. wilderness survival concept will almost naturally occur.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Just a word or two about the Hug A Tree program---

1.  Although the program teaches to tell your child that there are no animals out there will hurt them, this of course is not totally true.  I think that it is a good idea to not compound the fears of a child lost in the wild by filling their head with a list of every animal that could harm them.  If a child is lost, being lost will generate enough fear to deal with for a child.  Parents and adults should realize that even in your presence, a child may be hurt by bugs, snakes, and several animals.  Perhaps, depending on the child's age it is best to at least educate the child on creatures to avoid and stay away from  (spiders, snakes, skunks, wolves, bears, cougar etc)  In some cases perhaps all a child can do is remain still and quite, but in most cases the child can learn to stay away if they see these creatures out in the wild.

Here is an interesting story I just recently came across --Boy attacked by wolf

2.  Hug A Tree does not teach children to make fires.  There are of course many safety reasons for not teaching a young child to make a fire.  However, my personal feelings are that a child can be taught to safely make a fire as early as age 5.  They should also be clearly taught that they are not to make a fire out in the wild unless they are lost.  Certainly if a child is not taught how to make a fire, they may never know how to do so in a safe and effective manner.  When speaking about children, it is generally understood that this refers to individuals under the age of 18.  While a 5 year old may not have the motor skills and strength of a 17 year old, they both (and all ages between 5 and 17) should be able to make a fire.  A simple fire can give comfort, warmth, be used for cooking and serve as a signal to others.  Children 10 years and older should be considered very capable of making a fire and should definitely be equipped and trained to do so.  Perhaps one of the easiest items to include in their survival kit is a BIC type lighter ( not trying to promote BIC, just any brand of lighter that you can often buy in dollar stores - sometimes at 3 or 5 for a buck.)  Not much money invested for this purchase but it can be a real life saver.  The fire may even be used potentially to fend off some animals.  If you do not like the idea of teaching a young child (under age 10) to make a fire, then look at other options.   Warmth can come via heat packets that are simple to use and they can save the life of a child from hypothermia and freezing.  A heat reflective emergency blanket and food bars should also be in the kit to help with body heat.  Light sticks and flashlights can provide light and serve for signaling others.  These items should be included in any child wilderness survival kits/fanny pack and they are also good items for adult kits as well.  Adults should review the kit contents with children before each trip to the wild and make sure the kids know the use of each item and this is a good time to make sure each item is in good condition.

3.  The above comments are meant in no way to find fault with the Hug A Tree program.  It is a wonderful program in many ways.  Certainly the concept of teaching a child to stay put if lost is the most important teaching in the program.  I encourage all adults to take to time review this program which has saved lives.  Get a good understanding of this program in such a way that you can effectively teach it to your children, grandchildren and if their friend want to join in - all the better.  Practice Hug A Tree skills with them and the experience will be fun.  Practicing will help the child to know automatically what to do if lost and it can save a life.  Teach children also that if they are lost in the wild and they hear searchers calling their name - they should respond by yelling and making their location known. 

Please also check out this web page with your children -  - Hug A Tree

The next blog will continue with the "T" from the S.T.O.P. wilderness survival concept. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Survival Series-STOP!: S is for STAY 

If you find yourself lost or confused in a wilderness survival situation, the first thing to do is take a break. Take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to just relax. Sit in a comfortable spot and sing a song, recite a poem, watch birds, or have a snack – whatever relaxes you. If you take just a short break this will likely diminish going into panic and just running and getting yourself lost even more. Being relaxed will also likely help you to think more clearly when break time is over.  

Once break time is over, then you can take time to STOP.

S - STAY where you are if possible as this will make it easier for rescuers to find you. 

  When a person is lost in the wilderness, it is generally best to stay where you are and let rescuers find you.  This will be a much easier job for rescuers if you left a copy of your agenda with a contact person and perhaps a copy also in your car or main camp site if you traveled away from a camping spot.   Unfortunately, there are too many search and rescue wilderness survival stories in which the search and rescue process is much more complicated because the lost person haphazardly tried to find their way back to a safe place when they really did not have a good basis for moving on further, nor a good sense of direction.  In fact, all too often individuals who are lost in the wilderness tend to get lost even more by moving on without  knowing  which way they should go and they get further away from where they should be heading.   

Lets take a look at this situation in another perspective.  The next time you are about to get in your car, do you check a certain place in the house for the car keys?  Perhaps you keep your keys on a hook by the kitchen door or in a drawer.  Wherever you generally keep your keys, that is the place you go to get your keys.  The last place you put them is where you expect them to be.  Generally that is where you will find them.  Now, lets suppose somebody moved your keys from where you generally put them.  The next time you go to get your key and you find it is not there, what is your next step toward finding your key?  The key can’t tell you where it is anymore than a person lost in the wilderness can tell you where they are.  The concept here is really basic, you tend to look for a key or lost person where they were last seen.  Staying put and letting rescuers find you is a very good plan.  While staying put, you can spend the time making yourself safer and more comfortable and setting up signals to make search and rescue efforts easier.  So don’t panic and run yourself into getting further from help.            


          Staying put can be a key to wilderness survival. 


For those with younger children, teach them to stay put and hug a tree!   

I will talk more about the Hug A Tree program in a later blog.  It is a good program to share with young children.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wilderness Survival Basics

I hope readers of this blog have enjoyed the last several blogs which have been about sculpturing and making use of items that may be found in the wilderness to help your survival situation.  No doubt there will be many more items to share in the future about making use of such items or other fun ideas that can be helpful.  It seems that when learning about wilderness survival, people generally want to learn fun and interesting “tricks” to survival.  Maybe this is because these are fun and when having fun doing something, it is usually easier to learn.  When it come right down to it though, it is the more simple basics of survival that are generally the most important things that can save your life.  So while we will eventually and occasionally get back to so called fun and useful tricks of wilderness survival, it is time to revert back to the February 2012 blog for some basics of survival.  This months blog then is simply a copy (and a very good reminderof survival basics) of the February 2012 blog and we will move forward from this point on the next blog posting.




While there can be many wilderness survival scenarios and each scenario may present different challenges, the one I would like to discuss for this blog is that of being lost or disoriented. This may sound odd and some people may disagree with me but the first thing to do is-



That’s right! Take a break. Take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to just relax. Sit in a comfortable spot and sing a song, recite a poem, watch birds, or have a snack – whatever relaxes you. If you take just a short break this will likely diminish going into panic and just running and getting yourself lost even more. Being relaxed will also likely help you to think more clearly when break time is over.


Once break time is over, then you can take time to STOP.

S - STAY where you are if possible as this will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

T- THINK calmly about your situation and options. Evaluate and remain positive.

O- OBSERVE the weather, your surroundings, your equipment/supplies and capabilities.

P- PRIORITIZE immediate needs(shelter, medical, fire, water, signal and food) – develop a plan of action, follow your plan, remain positive.


Best wishes for happy and safe adventures,



Sunday, February 17, 2013

UnCANny ideas!!!
This is the last of my pop can wilderness survival ideas.    There are many more ways that a pop can may be used.  I hope that the pop can ideas have been fun and useful for my blog readers.    After this blog I want to go back to the February 2012 blog and move forward from there.  The purpose of the last few blogs all of which have been ways to use pop cans was just to give examples of ways to use the things that you may find in the wilderness to help in a survival situation.  Generally there are going to be other items a person may find in the wilderness which may also be used to increase the potential for survival.  The important thing is to not look at things simply for what they are but for how they could be useful.  Items that may generally be seen simply as trash can (with a little imagination) might be very useful. 
Fishing Lure

I’m certainly not a great skilled fisherman and I recommend including a fishing kit as part of your wilderness survival kit.  However,  if you don’t have a fishing kit, perhaps the following pop can hooks and lures may help provide a nice meal.  Remember, in a wilderness survival situation you are not necessarily going to get a restaurant style fish plate.  When trying to survive, just be glad for the protein regardless if it is a salmon, large mouth bass, catfish, carp or whatever fish you can get.  The point is to get the food you need to stay alive. 
The lures and hooks in the following pictures do not have fishing line attached but the pictures give an idea of what can be done.  Although it may be somewhat difficulty to tell from the pictures, the hooks are most definitely very, very sharp.   I hope that readers of this blog will try to make some of their own hooks and lures.   The only tool needed is a knife but having a multi-tool in your survival kit would make it even easier to make these items.   I hope my blog readers try to make some hooks and lures too. 
Finally the last of the wilderness survival pop can ideas --- snow goggles.

Many wilderness survival enthusiasts are familiar with improvising snow goggles.  They can be made from a piece of leather and some string of other available materials.  The purpose of improvised snow goggles is to protect your eyes.  If you are stuck in the wilderness in a snow covered area and you have to travel, the glare from the sun and the reflection from the snow can be blinding to the point your eyes can be damaged or you can become snow blind.   The loss of your vision significantly complicates a wilderness survival situation.   


The bottom outside portion of the two pop cans goes over the eyes.  Each piece of pop can has a hole punched in the middle (from the bottom outside of the can toward the inside of can).  The punched hole can be enlarged slightly if needed.  Each pop can piece also has a hole punched into each side of the piece also.  I happened to have a wire bread bag tie which I used to fasten the two pieces together by threading it through the holes and twisting the wire tie.  The eyepieces are fastened around the head with a shoelace or a piece of string.   Not only do they protect the eyes, they also reflect outward which serves as a reflector mirror which may help searchers to spot you.  The snow goggles work very well.    Give it a try!

Be safe and happy adventures.