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Essential Wilderness Hunting Skills

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  • Essential Wilderness Hunting Skills

    I've been thinking lately about our unhealthy dependance on our electronic gadgets, and wondering how many of us would fare in a remote setting for multiple days if we lost our GPS, our SPOT, our SATPHONE, our... whatever. From hearing some of the discussions we've had over the years, I get the drift that some of the newer hunters believe their survival is a function of how many AA batteries they have left...

    What would you consider to be the minimum skills a person should know when they're on a multi-day wilderness hunt (solo or group)? This list includes not only hunting skills, but survival too.

    -Mike
    Michael Strahan
    Site Owner
    Alaska Hunt Consultant
    1 (907) 229-4501

  • #2
    A very solid sense of the trajectory of time, space and events. By which I mean being able to project out what the useful daylight remaining is in relation to what you are trying to accomplish, knowing how you will get back to your camp in the dark, or how you will manage the night if you can't get back to camp without daylight, knowing whether you have time to run back to camp and get what you need without missing an opportunity, etc.

    In aviation, it is making sure that anywhere you take the airplane, you've already been to with your brain five minutes earlier.
    14 Days to Alaska
    Also available on Kindle and Nook

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    • #3
      To hunt Ya gotta know how to:

      Read sign and tell how old it is
      Understand the general behavior of your quarry as far as response to calls, flight, scent, noise
      Generally gauge yardage (i.e. is it too far, hold on hair etc.)
      Track an animal that you have hit, I mean really track it.....accurately assess the hit, get on hands and knees, be patient if need be
      Know how to break an animal down to hygenically and legally retrieve the meat
      Have a realistic idea of what you can retrieve at what distance from your transport

      To survive:

      Use a compass and read a topo, dead reckon, gauge distance travelled
      Create a shelter and fire with the simplest of materials (not stick and string, but know where the dry stuff is)
      Understand the body's needs for food, water, heat, and act accordingly.

      Most importantly you gotta know how to make decisions that incorporate the severity of the situation versus the risk inherent in the choices. I've said this a dozen times on this forum and here it is again, nearly every "There I was" story begins with a bad decision. Do not panic, stay put and assess what assets you have and what a realistic goal is under those circumstances. If that means staying put, then gather up what you got, get comfy and wait it out. If it means trimming down and packing it out, leave with the best weather you can hold out for, start rested, don't overexert, if you think you're lost.....stop. Take care of your body, it's the only thing that is gonna get you out of this. Great gear that is soaking wet or attached to a man with a busted ankle will do you no good.

      Also, read the books on Shackleton, it will make nearly anything you face seem like a walk in Central Park (in the daylight). Of particular note is that once they made land. They assembled the fittest group, and waited until they had weather that gave them the best chance of making it to that whaling station. Now, after everything those boys had been through, it would easy to assume that they would have just charged ahead being so close to their unthinkable goal. But, even then, they understood that one bad decision can negate a whole bunch of good ones. You only win if you get them all right.

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      • #4
        To know how to use a map with a compass......
        Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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        • #5
          Although I agree that knowing how to use a map with a compass is a good skill to possess, I don't find it an essential skill for hunting. I think having a general awareness of your surroundings and paying attention to landmarks and other points of interest is essential. Another important skill is to pay attention to water sources, know where you can get water if/when you need it.
          Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Michael Strahan View Post
            I've been thinking lately about our unhealthy dependance on our electronic gadgets, and wondering how many of us would fare in a remote setting for multiple days if we lost our GPS, our SPOT, our SATPHONE, our... whatever. From hearing some of the discussions we've had over the years, I get the drift that some of the newer hunters believe their survival is a function of how many AA batteries they have left...
            "Some" of our "newer" hunters? I'm thinking you're being extraordinarily generous out of an abundance of politeness. Do you think even 1% of hunters/outdoors adventurers today have even the faintest idea of how to navigate with a map and compass?

            I find batteries handy for headlamps. IMHO, the modern headlamp is a pretty darn handy invention, and I'm happy to pack one extra set of AA's or AAA's for same. Otherwise, I don't own or use any of those other devises. (Sometimes work requires use of electronics afield, but even then I never travel without map or aerial photos and my compass, and I would never rely on any electronic device to navigate from point A to point B).
            ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
            I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
            The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

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            • #7
              I find it difficult to separate hunting skills form survivals kills. A good hunter not only understands the 10 essentials, but has them in his pack. Like the high power 4x27 super deluxe combat reticule scope does not replace basic marksmanship; toys, like a GPS et.al. are not a substitute for basic outdoor skills.

              My vote is for Basic survival skills: shelter, fire, food and navigation.

              Also a good skill is remembering your Ammo before the float plane leaves.
              All paradise rests in the shadow of swords." ~K. Yates

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              • #8
                I'm in awe that my grandpa (born in 1900) was able to navigate throughout the state in the 30's and 40's without aerial photos, and most likely any map of any kind. Truly blows my mind.
                Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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                • #9
                  First aid, a serious understanding of the clouds and what they are saying to you. survival gear and how to use it. overcome the fear of being alone in the wilderness in the dark. How to disassemble a Coleman stove or lantern, fix it, and put it together. How to disassemble their firearm, and repair. How to swim, how to escape after falling through the ice. how to identify widow makers, where to put camp for 85 MPH wind. and roughly about 27,thousand other things. How to shoot out of a pick-up truck window. What to do when the entire camp is gone in a 112 MPH wind. How to live with bears in camp without killing them.

                  I would say a good place to start is the study guide for the written part of the Asst. Guide License test. But really people need to KILL their TV'addiction, and get their fat butt outdoors, everyday, every weekend.
                  "Essential......to Prepping for Survival, is to be able to segregate, what you think will happen, from what you hope will happen, from what you fear will happen, from what is happening".

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AGL4now View Post
                    First aid, a serious understanding of the clouds and what they are saying to you. survival gear and how to use it. overcome the fear of being alone in the wilderness in the dark. How to disassemble a Coleman stove or lantern, fix it, and put it together. How to disassemble their firearm, and repair. How to swim, how to escape after falling through the ice. how to identify widow makers, where to put camp for 85 MPH wind. and roughly about 27,thousand other things. How to shoot out of a pick-up truck window. What to do when the entire camp is gone in a 112 MPH wind. How to live with bears in camp without killing them.

                    I would say a good place to start is the study guide for the written part of the Asst. Guide License test. But really people need to KILL their TV'addiction, and get their fat butt outdoors, everyday, every weekend.
                    Excellent point about wind awareness, that is an essential skill. High winds can destroy shelters if they are not set up in a good location.
                    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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                    • #11
                      Essential Wilderness Hunting Skills

                      To echo a few of AGL's:

                      Know how to take things apart, fix them, and just plain understand how/why they work.

                      Get out and learn firsthand. You will be far more prepared and calm when $#!+ hits the fan.
                      Last edited by AKFreezerFiller; 12-03-2014, 01:02. Reason: Formatting

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                      • #12
                        I think there is a MASSIVE Gap between being a hunter and being an Outdoorsman or a Woodsman. I think a lot of people who hunt consider themselves Outdoorsman. And likely years ago this was true, but not even remotely true today. I think many who consider themselves hunters, are not hunters, but are shooters of animals, and have no more reverence or respect for the animal than they do a paper targets that they are proud of. And let's face it operating a modern firearm requires very little skill.

                        To me the goal should be to become a highly skilled Outdoorsman. And if you looked at all of the skills required to be an Outdoorsman, the hunting skills would be less than one half of one percent of an Outdoorsmans total set of skills.

                        I think many of the men who get into hunting do so as a means of validating their manliness in the eyes of other men. They are not really interested in the wilderness, or wilderness skills. In fact many really hate being in the wilderness, and just want to get it done quickly and back to the world in which they are comfortable, safe, and their NATURAL environment.

                        PLEASE NOTE: None of the above is relevant to anyone who views this Alaska Outdoors Forum.
                        "Essential......to Prepping for Survival, is to be able to segregate, what you think will happen, from what you hope will happen, from what you fear will happen, from what is happening".

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AGL4now View Post
                          PLEASE NOTE: None of the above is relevant to anyone who views this Alaska Outdoors Forum.
                          ....Why not?
                          ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
                          I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
                          The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hoose35 View Post
                            Although I agree that knowing how to use a map with a compass is a good skill to possess, I don't find it an essential skill for hunting..
                            If you are going hunting someplace in AK. that you have never been before, someplace that may not have a very good sight of the horizon, you're not going to do much hunting if you don't know how to find your way around......
                            Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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                            • #15
                              Watch Dude Your Screwed, and learn.......

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