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Frequent Questions


Which basic first-aid items should a solo hunter carry on public land?

A personal-injury attorney’s number on speed dial is near the top of the list. So are Steri-Strips and duct tape. A good rule of thumb is to carry the first-aid supplies specific to the activity. If you carry a knife, bring enough for a knife cut. If you carry an axe, bring enough for an axe cut. If you carry a chainsaw, bring an emergency-room surgeon. Cuts, scrapes, and hypothermia are the most common problems. Plan to solve them with what you carry.


If you had no electronics of any kind, including flashlights, what could you carry to help people locate you if you get lost?

Audible and visual signals. Audible signals such as a whistle can notify people a long way off. Use three quick blasts, for it’s a well-known distress signal. Visual signals, such as a space blanket that’s reflective on one side and orange on the other, that are tied up to flutter in the breeze will reflect a lot of light and look unlike anything natural on the landscape, thus drawing attention. I’m not a big believer in signal fires, owing to the many lightning-caused summer forest fires in the north, but in certain conditions they might be helpful. If nothing else, someone will come and tell you to put it out.


What snacks do you recommend for a hunter on a freezing-cold treestand sit?

To minimize what you have to carry, go with calorically dense, high-fat snacks. I’m a fan of nuts, cheese, and pepperoni when snacking in the cold. Of course, there’s nothing that can compete with well-made pemmican (you can live on it for years), but the flavor is an acquired taste.


If an average hunter becomes lost, is it really necessary to try to acquire food? And which, based on your experience, is more critical to accomplish first: finding shelter or obtaining water?

When lost, do not worry about finding food. The average person can go longer than three weeks (probably much longer) without food. The average survival episode lasts a weekend or shorter. Focus on the survival equation to make it home alive: Body temperature + hydration (short term) + sleep (long term) = survival for 40 days. If it’s a warm fall day, focus on water first. If it’s a windy blizzard, focus on shelter first. And remember that shelter includes anything that helps to maintain body temperature, including clothing and fire.