Anytime you go out into the wild you are doing something most humans have not done for centuries. You see over decades and decades of learning, changing and constantly evolving as people we have literally removed ourselves from the food chain. When you enter the wild, you give up that luxary modern man has created, you are now part of the food chain again. Everything else in the wild lives and dies by the code of the wild, survival of the fittest. Luck does play a factor into it to some degree, but where luck fails you need to be prepared. So to prevent dying a horribly painful death, like most animals in the wild will perish from, you need to keep a few things in mind, be aware of your surroundings, plan ahead, and tell people where you are going and establish a simple survival kit.
Fly fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping all take us to pretty remote places in the world. Places that may not be all that familiar to us, so we need to become familiar. You need to act like a native, learn everything you can about what to avoid and what to look for. Where I live bears can be a problem if you are not “bear aware” and part of being bear aware really just boils down to being aware of your surroundings. Bears are attracted to smells like food, so take steps to mask those smells. When you are walking watch where you plant your feet, you have been walking for years but you don’t walk on uneven terrain in varying weather. Take your time, pause when you need too and look around. Take inventory of your surroundings, you may need to reference them later should you get turned around. While you are doing all these things you are training yourself to have better situational awareness. Stay alert, stay alive.
An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Being prepared for where you are going is not only important, it will cut down on frustrations. You went to the wild to enjoy yourself, failure to plan is planning to fail. You know the area you are going has plants you are allergic too so you can be prepared with medicines and you know that the area has random changes in weather patterns so you brought rain gear. So take stock into where you are going, even if you are going with a guide. Keep in mind when things go wrong, you are responsible for yourself, so the more you know the better off you will be. Your goal in life should really be to be as little of a burden as possible on others, so take your personal safety seriously and plan ahead. There is nothing more satisfying than having a fire starting kit handing when its cold, wet, and getting dark. Being prepared keeps you satisfied, and warm.
Telling people where you are going seems like a no-brainer, however that is simply not the case. Accountability is a big deal to me and more people should be aware of just how important being accountable is to your survival. If you are going out fishing for the day, it takes 2 seconds to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Its common sense, you never know what can happen out there, maybe you get to the creek and slip on a rock and sprain a knee. If you told people where you were going, they can find you as you try and hobble out. If your plans change, make an effort to inform someone. Going out into the wild is risky and should not be down played, if you screw up and get lost people are going to come and look for you. Give them and yourself a good chance by letting them know your plan. Again its all about trying to make life easier for everyone, yourself included. We live in the future, the modern era is amazing and these search and rescue teams are top notch, so you shouldn’t be stranded long, and if you are just sit tight and dig into that survival kit.
You would be surprised how little you need to survive given the right circumstances. Survival comes down to 10% tools, 10% knowledge and 80% will to survive. There have been cases of people how had 0 bush craft skills and no equipment surviving months in the wild simply because they didn’t give up. Having even a small and simple survival kit will increase your will to live greatly. Your kit should include a knife, some sort of cordage (I like 550 cord because its strong and lightweight), a fire starting kit (Matches get used up or wet, lighters run out of gas and break, a flint and steel last a long time), and some sort of tarp of shelter. With the fire stating kit, take the time to learn to use it, they are not complicated but if you do it wrong you could break them or use them up to quickly. Obviously there is a lot more you can add to that kit list, but having just the ability to spark up a fire and get out of the rain will greatly decrease the suck factor of being stranded. After all you told people where you were going so you shouldn’t have to wait very long.
When you decide to go out into the woods you are going into mother natures domain. She does not care if you live or die, and has no remorse. Mother nature is not mean or evil, she is just there. So you need to care and take steps to make sure you are mitigating as much risk as possible. You can do so by paying attention to your surroundings, by planning property, by letting people know where you were going and making a simple survival kit. No one wants to be lost or in a bad situation, so do what you can to avoid them. Its your life after all.