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  • Experience is the best source...

    Sometimes the best teacher is first hand experience in the field and practicing the type of things that help oneself survive in the wilderness. There have got to be a chapters of stories that can be told on Alaska Outdoor Safety, Survival and Emergency Care. Also the same can be said on prevention, education and preparation for the wilderness, even on the most populated trails to the most remote. With devices and gadgets as GPS's to Satellite Phones present, what did we all do in the past long before this age. Even 30 years ago we ventured off with a simple so long or see you in a week, what ever the case was with little or no planning. Some may still do that today. It should be interesting to see the posts and watch this new area of interests grow. Thanks.

  • #2
    Yup, I agree totally. I think we are all going to learn a lot here. From both good and bad experiences of others and also rescue training that people have.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    • #3
      I'd say one good bit of advice is to take a first aid course or refresher course. The most powerful tool for survival and emergency care is your brain. Going through a course gets you thinking in terms of what to do if something should go awry. Skills not used frequently are forgotten.

      I'd say probably the best way to teach oneself to deal with survival is to head out in the woods with what you consider normal trail attire and gear, and sleep out overnight. Don't pick a pristine day, but try not to pick too nasty of a day.

      I'd say one of the skills most people don't master is building a fire with what they have on them. Having a bottle of camp fuel can make up for lack of skills, but you can't rely on that in a survival situation. Trying to start a fire in middle of wet woods with just a match or lighter is an entirely different deal. If you haven't tried it, you just might be suprised how difficult it can be. And if you do an overnight with no sleeping bag or tent, you'll find out that a good fire can be the difference between life or death.
      Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

      If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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      • #4
        A good show..

        Have any of you watched "Survivorman" on the Discovery channel? The basic premis is, the guy gets dropped off in an unknown area and has a limited time to find his way back to civilization (I think it is 5 days). I have seen 2-3 of his shows and he really demonstrates some good survival skills. He explains what he is doing and why he is doing it. Some of his methods are way out there and probably wouldn't work for our climate, but good information none the less.

        Anyway, if you haven't seen the show, it is worth watching.
        AKmud
        sigpic


        The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

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        • #5
          An Anecdote....

          This is probably more of an anecdote than a survival lesson, but perhaps worth relaying....

          Back in the late 70s, we lived in Anchorage - my Dad had grown up in Maine before meeting my Mom while he was in the Air Force. He used to tell us about "roughing it" deer hunting in Maine, with just a sleeping bag and a sheet of visqueen to use as a tarp. Well, one weekend he decided he'd show me (10 at the time) and my brother (6) how easy and fun "roughing it" could be.

          We drove up to Hatcher Pass on Friday, and were going to camp for the weekend and hunt - with just sleeping bags and a tarp, no 5-man Army tent that we usually took, no coleman stove, no lantern....we'd cook dinner over the campfire.

          We got our rough camp set up Friday afternoon, and hiked up a long ridge looking for a bull moose - saw plenty of cows, no bulls. It started to sprinkle, so we sat under a spruce tree to wait it out...

          Well, after a few minutes it was clear that the rain was NOT going to let up. Dad said "Boys, we better head back to camp, and it's going to be a wet walk back." Bless my little brother - he was only 6, we walked back about 3/4 of a mile through grass that was up to our chest....and never a word of complaint out of him!

          Well, by the time we hit camp, we looked like drowned rats. Dad had us get out of our wet clothes, and started a fire to try to dry them, even thought it was still raining off and on. In our haste to leave town and start our "roughing it" adventure, we discovered that while we had brought rainwear, we had NOT brought extra long johns, pants, or shirts!

          So - the next 2 days were spent sitting in our sleepoing bags, while Dad tried to dry our clothes over the fire in an intermittent rain....if we had the tent, stove, and lantern, our clothes would have dried hanging in the tent from the stove and lantern heat Friday night, and we could have hunted from our track rig on Saturday and Sunday. If we had even brought extra clothes, we could have hunted from the track rig no problem. But, my little brother and I made the best of it, hanging out in our sleeping bags under the tarp and watching the rain come down.

          We got just about dried out enough to get in the truck and head home on Sunday evening.....I'll never forget my brother's comment as we started home: "Dad, roughing it is okay, but next time can we take the tent?"

          So the lesson to this story is - DO NOT forget spare clothes, even for a hunt off the road system! That weekend is a great memory though.

          Michael

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          • #6
            On a weekend camp out with the boy scouts, the scout master requested we bring all our gear to his tent. We thought it was an inspection or something so being eager to please we all promptly did as we were asked. The scout master put it all in a pile and said with a saluted, " Have a nice weekend boys." He left us with sleeping bags and our flint and steel.


            Well we were all a little dissappointed that we had been fooled so easily, but noone went hungry and we all stayed warm and dry. On the last night, just for fun we attacked him, dragged him down into the field below our camp and hog tied him with long sticks behind his back so he couldn't roll over. While he played Houdini we went back and ate every stitch of food in his camp. 2 hours later we were all sitting around his fire all fat and happy when he finally came walking into camp. He didn't look happy but nothing was said.

            JUst one of many great camp outs where I learned good survival techniques and fun was had by all.

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            • #7
              "survivorman" is one of the better survival shows I've seen - kind of gets to the psychological side of it better because he is alone for 7 days with very limited supplies. He films the episodes himself...obviously you have some blair witch style production values, but it helps. Most of his fires are started with traditional means which unless you practice is tough if not impossible if you're in a survival situation!

              there is another show out there where the star actually has a several person camera crew with him...that show is much more into sensationalism than survivorman...one episode I saw he parachuted into the woods, the survival scenario was he was blown off course and got hung up in the trees on landing, so anyway later in the show he is out in the woods somewhere and talking about bears - he hears some noises and takes off barreling through the woods in the dark - saying things like "I've got to get as far away from here as I can"...no mention at all to the real life danger of breaking a leg (or worse) running from something that A) he didn't even see and B) that you really shouldn't just go sprinting away from in the first place!

              Another thing about survival situations - know the people you venture out with! I've even made it almost a competition to see who can be the most ingenious with their survival gear...I'm sure each of us that is of a boy scout mindset has been out with someone ill prepared that has benefited from our preparedness...don't get me wrong I enjoy helping others in the woods, especially when they learn to be better prepared from it, but from my perspective I don't like to head out with someone that hasn't given some forethought to their own survival needs.

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              • #8
                You said it man

                Good advice Rufus. No matter how comprehensive your survival/first aid kit, there is no substitute for knowledge. On that note, anyone serious about this should buy a book published by Mosby. It is titled Wilderness Medicine. About 600 pages that literally covers anything that could happen to you. Put it in the bathroom and read a little as you do your business. Whatever works!! If you find yourself in a compromising position while in the outdoors, you better have not only the reserve to do the right thing and the basic gear, but you better have the knowledge to use it. As said a million times, the most valuable tool you have is between your ears. Funny that most people wont use it. Kidding.
                The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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                • #9
                  Great story...

                  mdhunter. And a great experience too.

                  4 yrs ago, a friend and I hiked/fished our way up a small creek. In thick brush and worsening deadfalls finally the stream was unfishable, so we climbed a bluff then followed the stream up along the bluff....which slowly bent away from the stream... to a ridgeline, which we followed in flat light...not realizing it too was slowly bending...

                  We found our way out, through blind dumb luck. But it was sobering later to realize that we'd been heading NW into wilderness instead of SW to our camp. I'm more careful especially in flat light since then.
                  No habitat, no hunter.

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                  • #10
                    I learned the hard way years ago not to wear cotton, and to always have a hat and gloves no matter the weather. A GPS might have come in handy, too.

                    We left on a sunny July day to hike up Blacktail Peak in Eagle River and then we would camp the night and hike out through the Valley that comes out behind Shoppers Cache in Chugiak. It's practically my back yard, no big deal, right?

                    So we get up to the top of the peak and that's when the weather began coming in. First, a heavy fog. We got disoriented...we hadn't brought a map or GPS because we knew the area. Not that a map would have done any good- visibility was 10 feet. Then it began to rain and then snow a heavy, wet snow. We hiked down into a low area and found a relatively flat spot to make camp.

                    At this point, my cotton clothes were soaked, as was my sleeping bag because it had been packed in the top of my pack just in a stuff sack, not in anything waterproof. I got hypothermia and muscle cramps and spent the most miserable night of my life in that wet bag.

                    Now? I always have a hat and gloves. I never wear cotton, even on a simple day hike. My sleeping bag and extra clothes always get packed in waterproof bags. And I carry a GPS as well as compass and map.

                    It was a tough but well learned lesson.
                    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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                    • #11
                      Teach your kids how to survive in the woods. My kid grew up with the expectation of going riding, boating, and flying with me. Sometimes bad things happen to the dad. I wanted my kid to be capable of surviving without me.

                      Self reliance in the woods is becoming a lost skill. Too many people rely on gadgets and the government for their safety.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mr. Pid View Post
                        Teach your kids how to survive in the woods. My kid grew up with the expectation of going riding, boating, and flying with me. Sometimes bad things happen to the dad. I wanted my kid to be capable of surviving without me.

                        Self reliance in the woods is becoming a lost skill. Too many people rely on gadgets and the government for their safety.
                        I fully agree here, too as i take my kids out i ask them...


                        How would you get back out if something happened to me? point our Obvious land marks... they would just look past... show them where to get the sap off the black spruce, and how to use the safety equipment in there belt...( I also found out i need to remember to take the matches away from the 11 year olds..when we get home)


                        but you know that one question " what if I got hurt" opens the eyes of your compainion.... many of us do all the leg work the planning and the transporting of our family, friends, etc... the wife will ride along blissfully to hunt camp or fish camp...she may have the skills to patch you up.. but can she get you out? or herself to get help if need be?
                        "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

                        meet on face book here

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Vince View Post
                          I fully agree here, too as i take my kids out i ask them...


                          How would you get back out if something happened to me? point our Obvious land marks... they would just look past... show them where to get the sap off the black spruce, and how to use the safety equipment in there belt...( I also found out i need to remember to take the matches away from the 11 year olds..when we get home)


                          but you know that one question " what if I got hurt" opens the eyes of your compainion.... many of us do all the leg work the planning and the transporting of our family, friends, etc... the wife will ride along blissfully to hunt camp or fish camp...she may have the skills to patch you up.. but can she get you out? or herself to get help if need be?
                          Ahhh common Vince! It is a new day in the woods, just pick up a spot messenger or beacon and if you are cold, tired, hungry, hypothermic, lost or just a little lonely all you gotta do is just the button

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                          • #14
                            Always learn basic stuff first.

                            Always spend a little time learning/practicing stuff the basic old fashioned way. The new high tech stuff is great, and I use it just like everyone else, but be sure you know how to do it old fashioned way too.

                            GPS is a perfect example. It sure is easy to just push a button and see where you are on a little map on the screen. And in some conditions (fog, whiteout, etc) a GPS is priceless. But these days too many people buy the fanciest GPS but never bother to learn how to do basic map reading and compass navigation. If you take the time to learn it, not only will you have a fall back for the day your GPS goes belly up or you forgot extra batteries for it, but you will be way better at using the GPS because you understand the underlying prinicples of navigation.

                            Likewise, I see a lot of threads on "what's the best fire starter?". Next time you are out on a hike in rainy or snowy weather, stop and try to build a fire with just one match....or with just a magnesium fire stick and knife. If you get to where you can do that reliably, building a fire with just about any fire starter will be a snap.

                            People have been staying alive for a long time in Alaska before high tech stuff. It pays to have some of those old skills in you tool kit.

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                            • #15
                              Practice

                              I totally agree with overthehill. I always try to use my survival kit stuff regularly to keep proficient at it. Last winter on the Su we tried to build a fire to cook some sausages during the Irondog and had a heck of a time (more than one try at it). We had tried trioxane, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and even about 2 gallons of gasoline. Nothing would burn long enough to get the dryest spruce limbs we could find. We got hot sausages but it took probably a half hour to an hour to get it going good. That sure wouldn't have been fun trying to do that after pulling myself from a creek. Practice, practice, practice. Don't assume because you have it that it works.

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