In the big woods getting lost isn’t as scary as it used to be. Not because of changes in technology or search and rescue, but this is more about changes in the hunter myself. Having been in a few nip and tuck situations in earlier times, including one that did end with search and rescue finding our scout group around midnight, I have come to accept a certain level of being lost. I have found myself turned around at dusk on more than one occasion and I leaned heavily on GPS technology for several years until mine was stolen out of my parked pickup. When I hear stories of people becoming lost or worse yet, becoming lost and dying, I shake my head and feel for them at the same time. It isn’t hard to get lost, or to get it straightened out again.
It’s all about keeping your head about you when you realize you don’t know exactly what to do. The last two years in a row a family has gotten “stuck in the snow” in their car with tragic results in western Oregon here where I live. Every time, my friends and relatives ask a big collective WHY? Usually they are city bound individuals with plenty of “office savvy” who have never been stuck in the snow before. Every country boy I know has dug himself out with shovels, sticks and coffee cups. This doesn’t make the situation less tragic, if anything it’s more terrible. It stands to show a point though, that a calm head and reasoning can get you out of all kinds of lost.
My basic rules are:
- Know the country you are going into
- Watch your back trail
- Use your GPS if you have one
- Know where roads and rivers will lead you
- Use your head
Most country where I live is cut up with logging roads in varying degrees of disrepair. Even old trace roads usually tie into the current road system somehow. One trick that keeps me less lost on road systems is knowing why they were built. In this case to move logs. Almost all logging roads come together at an angle pointing towards the most convenient exit from the woods. Full log trucks can’t make tight turns so the roads are constructed to allow them to drive out quickly. Paying attention to this simple fact will stand you well in logging country.
When you are in the woods watch your back trail, the view going the other way is very different from the view headed in. It’s easy to misplace yourself if you don’t look both ways on the way in.
If you have a GPS use it. Don’t neglect to mark your truck’s location because it takes time. In new country that’s inexcusable. If you don’t have a GPS consider getting one. They are simple to use and invaluable for new country, especially big new country.