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If you get lost in the woods, what do you do?


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I saw Mikes thing saying he was on another search and rescue. Being I haven't really seen this discussed, I want to hear more about it. So, how do you prevent getting lost? Seems people do it easily. How do find your way back once you're lost? On dirt bikes I often ride where there are tons of trails which lead to who knows where which intersect and do this and that and it's almost impossible to back track where you've been. I can get a general sense of which direction I went from camp so I can get a general direction heading back, but because I have like a 3.5 gallon tank on it which lasts forever, I just ride until I find something familiar again, like pavement. I have thrown the bike over fences, ridden down creeks until I find something or the bike submerges. Somehow I always get back. But I know there are many scenarios that I don't know about so I wanted to hear the "standard" things to do in a given situation. His thing said their GPS was crap so that throws that out the window.

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This guy had life made, at least for the last 5 years. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile3/56094373-219/knapp-county-mountain-burglaries.html.csp Goes back to the "Natural selection" scenario. I might be a bit cold about things like this but common sense and self prservation is becoming a thing of the past, if you can't survive off the land you have no business being out there in the first place. I love having been bred born and raised in the sticks and raised in a self sustainable enviroment grew and raised or hunted for all of our food. To me living in town would be like an innocent person being imprisoned for life.:2cents: Clint Eastwood says it best!

http-~~-//www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG2cux_6Rcw

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Hmmm... I'm not too worried.* GPS* maps* 9mm pistol* Cold weather clothing (gloves, jacket, socks, hat, etc.)* Safety Yellow jacket* Safety yellow sweat jacket* 1 gallon of water (1/2 gal in pack and typically 1/2 gal on the ATV)* AA batteries* Head lamp* MRE* Matches* Multi-tool* toilet paper* flashlight* Rain Poncho* Flagging tapepost-2-13869819992_thumb.jpgWhen I leave the Dodge Cummins to head out in the woods by foot or with a ATV I was grab my SAR's pack behind my driver seat.As for travelling Idaho the rule of thumb typically is to head down. Any time you head down the mountain more times out of ten you'll cross a road, trail, creek or something. If you find a creek follow it down it should bring you back to a main drainage. (Salmon River or Snake River)Like last night we left the scene in a hurry to get to the fire call and just about started second guessing the road we were on and thought we made a wrong turn. Come to find out we was on the right road and just the dark changes the perception of the land. Like 2 nights ago I went to my fire meeting. I parked the fire truck out by the main road and walk up to the shed. Well never the less I turn the corner of the building it was so dark I could not see to walk. I had a pike pole in my hand and was using it like a blind man's cane. Thank gawd. Because it went clank as it hit another vehicle. Stood still for a bit and then got my night vision and barely see the dim glow of the yellow of the truck. Yeah! So out here at night you sit still.

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I saw Mikes thing saying he was on another search and rescue. Being I haven't really seen this discussed, I want to hear more about it. So, how do you prevent getting lost? Seems people do it easily. How do find your way back once you're lost? On dirt bikes I often ride where there are tons of trails which lead to who knows where which intersect and do this and that and it's almost impossible to back track where you've been. I can get a general sense of which direction I went from camp so I can get a general direction heading back, but because I have like a 3.5 gallon tank on it which lasts forever, I just ride until I find something familiar again, like pavement. I have thrown the bike over fences, ridden down creeks until I find something or the bike submerges. Somehow I always get back. But I know there are many scenarios that I don't know about so I wanted to hear the "standard" things to do in a given situation. His thing said their GPS was crap so that throws that out the window.

Preventing getting lost, that just takes some awareness and understanding of your location as it changes. This can involve a number of different methods: - Photographic memory - Realtime tracking, GPS, etc. - Map and compass. - Telling others where you are, where you expect to be and for how long. - Leave markers like ribbon, etc. - Landmarks - Sun Now, what TO DO when lost... STOP, do NOT panic. Many people will panic and start doing many irrational things. Many people have become lost and did not even realize there was a road, path, etc. close to them that was well traveled. This is a very defining moment for people. As this can create a huge problem or nothing at all. Stay PUT! Most of the time, if you are lost, staying put will yield you great success in being found. IF you know where you came from, backtrack on your path and do NOT deviate! If you are someone like me, even I can backtrack a path. But sometimes that does not mean I will make it back to my location in adequate time before I lose light. Being a hunter, I can walk trails in the brush left by animals and not even realize my instant location. I could have either distanced myself from my starting location or brought myself only steps away from it. Trees and the brush, etc. can cause someone to be dis-oriented. If you come to a point where staying put is becoming a risk more than of benefit, move. Do you have any landmarks? Things such as a large mountain in the distance that you can walk in a line towards. Do you have bodies of water like streams, rivers, etc? What about the sun? Is it cloudy outside or sunny? What time of the day did you start your trek? Note the location of the sun. The sun rises from the east and sets in the west. You can then effectively travel north according to the sun. Stop when the sun is directly above you and rest. Take shade and wait until the sun starts falling. When and if you ever decide to move from the point that you first realize you have become lost, leave those markers! Not always will it take a piece of ribbon, etc. to mark your previous presence. Some better trained S&R personnel can also realize that things that do not naturally occur in the wilderness can also be a marker. Marking your trail with geometrical things or disturbing the area that would not usually occur. Also, be sure to create ALOT of noise. But if a search team is deployed, also stop to listen as well. Anything in a pattern of 3 is a universal distress signal. Whistles, tree knocking, yelling, etc. If you have a firearm with plenty of ammo, shoot in 3's, especially if you hear someone and they could be looking for you. If you end up being caught in the woods for an overnight stay, prioritize your needs: 1. Water 2. Fire 3. Shelter 4. Food In that order! Fire will be another thing to help you in being found. The object to being found is to do exactly the opposite of trying to be lost... Thats all I got off the top of my head for now...
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The first thing to do is STOP. If you are LOST, continueing in the wrong dirrection is no help. THINK about the right direction. IF you decide to try to walk out, have a plan. Down hill is good. Use SUN for direction is good (even if it means waiting until morning). THINK about when you LAST knew where you were like "on a trail". Try to return to that place. I don't use GPS but am fine if one does. I have used compass at sea and orienteering & that will work too. I've explored trail systems but never cared to not know where I am. I learned the outer trails & then learned the unknown trails within it. Unless one is equipped to go orienteering, they should never leave the known trails.

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Well this kinda sums up why people get lost I guess. I didn't know if there was some other bulletproof way to find your way back or what. Seems common sense and just not getting to the point of being lost is key. It would be neat if there was a pedometer with a built in magnetic compass that counted your steps in each direction. That would eliminate GPS signal issues and any other "external reliance" issues. On a 4 wheeler you could use the same thing and integrate it with the speedometer. :shrug: Just a thought to prevent people from getting lost. Obviously there are a lot of people who still get lost. There are actually maps for all the trails we go on, so I can look at them as a worst case scenario. I would think even a terrain map would help lost people out, as long as they had a general idea which direction they had headed. I guess if you're completely clueless about anything and everything then you would deserve to be lost in the woods for a while lol. As for what W&F originally said, there is a kid on youtube I watch a lot. I think he is 17 now. He goes out and lives off the land for a day or 2. I just find it amazing what he knows compared to what all the other kids his age know. Plus his vids put shame to even the discovery channel as far as quality and stuff goes.

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Ok. As far as the GPS usage goes I would say start out learning by doing Geo-caching... http://www.geocaching.com/ As for Maps I would always use both GPS and maps together. The what if the battery die, or I drop and break the GPS. Etc. GPS are great tools but don't let them be come a crutch. Like other have mention use line of sight to other large features. Like for me its using the Seven Devils Peaks. It's the highest mountain peak in the area just close to 9,000 feet. So that's a land feature you can't miss. I've been known to flag trees with flagging or stack stones or carve marks in the dirt with my boot heel or ATV tires in the direction of travel. This makes it nice to follow back out. Been here... http://goo.gl/maps/xE7vI post-2-138698199937_thumb.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, there's lost, and there's LOST! Seriously though it can happen to anyone, it's how you handle it that makes it either inconvenient or, life threatening. Stopping and verifying your location is paramount, you may be better off to stay put, at the very least, don't move after dark. Even familiar terrain looks different at night. Always be Prepared to spend the night.. I snowmobile in the U. P. a lot, in pretty nasty conditions at times, here's what I carry. I have GPS on the sled, I carry a second one in my pocket, along with a map, in case I'm separated from th sled, or the GPS pukes (it's happened). I carry a hat, lighter, knife, and a 9mm on me as well, not for everyone, but my choice. I have a pack on the sled I never leave without, it has extra gloves, a pair of socks, survival kit (magnesium fire starter , GI Trioxane tab,lighter, whistle, flashlight, surveyors tape, maps, compass,mylar poncho, 550 cord) nylon rope, spare belt, fuses, fuel relay and basic tools. Some batteries and water and energy bars also.. Sounds like a lot, but it can all be packed in a very small pack, prioritize what should be on your person, and keep in mind plan A doesn't always pan out. That's why I carry backup to what I feel is critical.

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The single biggest thing is to pay attention to where you are going. If you get lost and were paying attention you can back-track much easier. Prior planning when going somewhere new and/or confusing is always the best way to start. I carry similar stuff that all of you do, I also have a SPOT I carry when with the family or a long ways from the truck when hunting. I am not so worried about getting lost, as much as needing emergency services. And Michael.. a 9mm?? Come on, you know all that's going to do is ____ something off :tease: I keep 15 of these in my G20, and 10 in my G29. https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=219

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I just got done with a training about SPOT and SPOT connect. I like the idea. Personally I'm not fond of the idea of some one tracking me by GPS and knowing every step I make. So I'll skip on the SPOT. Typically I go out with other people so I'm not at risk. As for the 9mm FireStar pistol was passed down from my Father when he pasted away so a free firearm is better than a blunt stick. It's better than my .22 Magnum Ruger I got...:gun:

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  • 2 months later...

Sorry, I'm trolling old threads, since I'm stuck on duty all day today- Battalion Officer Of the Day (BN OOD). Ugh...they got me good. Payday weekend, and a company that just got back from deployment. Here's hoping tonight stays calm.. (knocks on wood!)I enjoy using a gps, however I've found depending on where you're at, you may or may not have a good enough signal for it to work. In the desert in 29 Palms, I was able to rely on the gps consistently. However, here in NC, in the trees, it doesn't work consistently. In 29 Palms, I was able to also get my hands on some good, solid topo maps of the surrounding areas, so when I was hunting for coyote dens, I'd plot it out on a map, take my compass and my gps and my map, and go to town. I always cut the map sections up, so I could take them to a commercial laminator, and get them laminated. Waterproof and I could draw on them if I ever needed too. I haven't found any good maps here in NC, but the areas I hunt are pretty wooded. For the most part, if I'm going to fight my way into the brush for a good spot, I usually take some sort of marking tape with me, and tie it off or wrap it so I can find my way out in the dark if I need to. I found a roll of reflective tape at work, and that was awesome...just turned on the flashlight on the way out, and looked for the reflective tape. The one time I thought I didn't need it, I was up in my climber stand, came down, and knew it was only about a 50 yard shot to the path back to the truck...problem was, as soon as I dropped out of the tree, and started heading back, the brush was so thick that I got myself turned around... Felt pretty stupid, and didn't want to admit it to myself, so I hung out for a bit, and kept going, until I finally admitted to myself I should have hit the path by then. Once I figured that out, I decided to quit being lazy, and ran the climber back up the nearest tree, till I could clear the brush, referenced a clearance light on one of the power towers, found my azimuth, and came down. Headed the way I thought I needed to, and within a minute or two, broke through the brush, and hit the path. The biggest thing I can say is keep your cool...as long as you stay calm and start reasoning things through in your head, you'll eventually be fine. If you start to panic, and let it take over, you're screwed from there.

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I've added more to my day pack. * Cigarette Lighter* Pack of Kitchen Matches* Magnesium Block and Flint* Water filter and pump.I got to admit I've been out in the wood several time and gotten turned around. I always find my way back as long as you keep your cool. Like Dennhop points out your screwed after that. So once you start to feel the panic come on your best to sit down and thing it out. Wondering around aimlessly will get you in more trouble. Out here in the mountain of Idaho It's always suggested to go down hill you'll always cross a road or water way sooner or later. Since water is a key to survival at least you'll have that. As for travel if you continue to hike in any direction you eventually find a road. It might be a few miles but you'll find one. If I could lay the Nezperce Forest Map out and and scan it you'd be surprised how many trails, forestry roads, and such are in the area. Then how many water ways.

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When I first started riding horses in the woods with my (now) ex... she didn't know where we were (her area). I got a bit nervious. She just called out to her dog with us. (I don't know how that dog didn't get stepped on, he was practically under the horse's feet.) Butch, Let's go home! We followed the dog & he took us right home. Not necessarily by the route we arrived on...

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The single biggest thing is to pay attention to where you are going. If you get lost and were paying attention you can back-track much easier. Prior planning when going somewhere new and/or confusing is always the best way to start. I carry similar stuff that all of you do, I also have a SPOT I carry when with the family or a long ways from the truck when hunting. I am not so worried about getting lost, as much as needing emergency services. And Michael.. a 9mm?? Come on, you know all that's going to do is ____ something off :tease: I keep 15 of these in my G20, and 10 in my G29. https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=219

Story i heard in Alaska when I was younger... This young kid full of ____ and vinegar got off the boat to go find his fame and fortune in Alaska. He has a new .44 strapped to his leg and he passes an old salt sitting on the boardwalk. Ol Salt: "whats that thing on your hip for?" Kid: "why, bear, of course." Ol Salt: "I See. Kid, come here, we gotta fix that gun up if you are going to use it for bear... I think I got a file in my bag here somewhere to file that front sight off nice and smooth." Kid: "why file the front sight?" Ol Salt: "well, kid. That way, its way less painfull when the Grizzly shoves it up your ....!" In truth though, my daily carry is a 9mm P7, but in the woods I tend to carry .40 S&W or a rifle. The Alaskan native I hunted with though, carried a .223 Rem Mini-14. That native has been there since the 40s, and his family for thousands of years. I didn't say squat to him about being "under gunned!" :ashamed:
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It would seem to me if you get lost, with no map, GPS, and more or less your wits and a small backpack (NOT recommended) of goodies......if possible, find a small creek or stream and follow it downstream. Eventually it will lead to a larger body of water and usually the outskirts of civilization. At the very least, you will have water and not become dehydrated and the best chance of finding food if it turns into a longer adventure. My idea of a good pistol for out in the wild would be a Glock 20 using Buffalo Bore 180 grain HP's or 200 grain Hard cast lead (requires an after market conventionally rifled barrel to fire lead rounds). It may not be in the power range of the .44 magnum and larger but those guns usually allow six shots tops while the 10mm BB 180 gr. hp ammo is between the .41 & .44 magnum and you have 16 opportunities to get make your point before reloading is required. Two 15 round magazines would be readily and easily carried along whereas a revolver that size and 45 rounds of ammo would be a bit more of a load to carry.

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