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MN DNR offers survival tips for lost hunters

DNR offers survival tips for lost hunters

(Released November 2, 2009)

Even experience hunters can get lost, so people should be prepared for that possibility before heading out for their hunt, according to Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator.

“Survival is an attitude, but you need to be able to think clearly for that to happen,” Hammer noted.

Hammer offered tips for those heading outdoors.

Always let someone know where you will be going and when you plan to return. Be aware of changing weather conditions. Plan to be out of the woods before a storm changes familiar surroundings into something no longer recognizable.

Being lost in the woods does not have to be life threatening. Plan for the possibility by bringing matches in a waterproof container, a compass, a knife, a small candle, a whistle, a pocket survival blanket, high-energy snacks and a water container. A person can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water. These life-saving items can be carried in one small fanny pack.

If you get lost, don’t pretend otherwise. Admitting you’re lost is critical. A person who continues to assume that they will find a familiar landmark over the next hill or around the next comer will just heighten their sense of panic if that doesn’t happen. Panic could cause a person to discard clothing or hide from would-be rescuers.

Plan to stay in one spot until rescued. Find a good spot to use as shelter. There should be shelter materials, water and firewood nearby. A natural shelter such as a cave or rock overhang is great, but sometimes a large downed tree, a boulder, cliff base or rack wall will do. Gather wood and start a fire for warmth, companionship and as a signal for searchers. Build a shelter with the top closest to the fire to reflect heat, but safely away from sparks and smoke. Use sticks, branches and pine boughs if available. Gather plenty of firewood. It will take about one hour to build a fire and up to three hours to build a shelter, depending on materials available.

Hypothermia is the main factor in making bad decisions outdoors. Stay dry to improve the chance of staying warm. Keep the head and neck warm and dry to retain body heat. If the blood gets cooled due to lack of head and neck protection, the body core is cooled and hypothermia can set in. A person’s ability to think clearly can be affected by even one degree of core temperature loss.

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