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Nature & Wildlife
2013 August
Pg 10 - The Sunshine Express
The Essentials To ¡®Staying Found¡¯
Big Game 2013: How not to get lost in the woods
In the 1980 movie classic ¡°The Mountain Men¡±,
the character Henry Frapp is questioned by a
young green horn: ¡°Haven¡¯t you ever been lost?¡±
Frapp scratches his whiskers and after a recol-
lecting pause, replies, ¡°A fearsome confused for a
month or two¡­ but I ain¡¯t ever been lost!¡±
For the fur trappers, wandering through a vast
and unexplored country, ¡°lost¡± would have been
something of an oxymoron. Not knowing where
you were was a necessary part of the mountain
man business. The blank space on the map was as
much ¡°home¡± as it was wilderness, and ¡°lost¡± was
more a state of mind than a physical dilemma.
When the mountain men plunged head-long into
the unknown, they knew that where they were
going there would be no restaurants or hotels. So
they planned accordingly. They learned quickly
where to find food and how to get it; how to mend
equipment, to make new or make do; they could
sleep in a log, a cave, or just plain under the stars,
and survive! How did they accomplish this incred-
ible feat? Simply, they were prepared, mentally and
Today, the same principles apply. When you head
out into the woods, be prepared: for cold, rain or
snow; to tend an injury; or to stay the night in the
woods. It¡¯s not as difficult as it sounds. Here are a
few nuggets of Mountain Man wisdom to help you
Staying Found
The old timers relied on ¡°Dead Reckoning¡± for
navigation: utilizing a compass to guide them in the
general direction they wished to go. Sometimes in
the absence of a compass, they relied only on ¡°reck-
oning¡±: as in ¡°I reckon camp is back that way.¡± The
contemporary woodsman may have the handiness
of a GPS, but owning one of these high-tech gizmos
is not an adequate substitute for map and compass
skills. Just as with other conveniences (cell phones,
cameras, flash lights), the batteries will invariable go
dead just when you need them the most.
Learning how to read a map is not that difficult; up
is north, left is west and so on. The closer the lines
are together the steeper the country. Water is shown
as blue, while man made objects are black. It is sim-
ply a two dimensional rendition of a three dimen-
sional world. Using a map and a compass to show
you which way is north, you¡¯d be hard pressed to
get seriously lost. Sure, some practice is required,
but that¡¯s all part of the preparedness thing.
Paying attention to where you¡¯re going can also be
a big help to staying found. As you pursue your
quarry, notice which way the shadows are falling.
Have you been mostly climbing, or descending?
Look for landmarks as you go. Not stumps and
rocks, but BIG landmarks that give your relative
position to the valley below, or that craggy peak to
the west. Turn around and look behind you, what
would it look like if you were going that way, back
to camp or the truck?
The Essentials
Unless your trip is taking you across the Gobi or the
Brooks Range, you probably don¡¯t need to carry 50
feet of copper wire or spare fishing line and hooks.
The largest wilderness area in Colorado can be
traversed in a day or two by a man in
decent shape. So what are the essential
essentials you need when you¡¯re on your
own hook?
- Water. Without it, you¡¯re dead in three
days. Without it for a few hours, at 9,000
feet above sea level, you¡¯re not dead, but
you may wish you were. Dehydration can
lead to altitude sickness and hypothermia.
But even worse, it can impair your judg-
ment, induce panic, and result in a fatal
case of Lost.
- Fire good¡­ Fire friend¡­ Fire number
two in importance. Learn how to build one,
WITHOUT toilet paper and gasoline. It¡¯s
as easy as 1-2-3: One, you need dry tender.
Scratch around under grass tussocks for
the driest stuff. Get lots of it, about a volley
ball sized bunch; two, kindling. You want
twice as much as the tender you gathered.
Kindling is small stuff - matchstick sized;
Three, is the fuel itself. Gather up plenty
if it looks like you may have to spend the
night. Pick dry branches one to two inches
in diameter as these burn without difficulty
and make it easy to control the heat. Of
course we can¡¯t overlook the match. You
don¡¯t need to be proficient with a flint and
steel, but you should have at least a couple
of ways to start fire; it doesn¡¯t matter if its a
lighter or a fire plow, as long as you can get it lit.
- Shelter. Now don¡¯t jump right into bivy sacks
and backpacking tents. Let¡¯s take a step back and
start at the beginning. Shelter starts with your
clothing. Dress for the worst. And in a Colorado
autumn, the worst can be pretty harsh. Pick syn-
thetics, like fleece or polyester blends, but wool is
best. Dress in layers: long handle union suit, light
mid layer(s), and warmer outer layer. Dressing
appropriately when you leave camp will find
you well on your way to surviving a night in the
outback even without a buffalo robe.
- Make a plan and let someone know what it is.
Leave a map open on the dashboard of the truck.
You don¡¯t have to give up your secret spot with
an ¡°I AM HERE¡± arrow, just circle a square mile
or two. When you leave camp, a plain old ¡°I¡¯m
gonna work this ridge out and come back down
the crick¡± is enough to give your buddies a place
to start looking for you if you should become ¡°a
fearsome confused.¡± The important thing is to
stick to your plan.
As you head into the high country this fall, see
yourself as one of the Lewis & Clark Expedition;
be prepared, both mentally and physically for the
challenges of the unknown. Keep your powder
dry and your eyes on the horizon and you¡¯ll
know that ¡°lost¡± is, by and large, just a state of
By Chris Parmeter, District Wildlife Manager in
the Gunnison/Crested Butte area.
For more info about hunting in Colorado see:
Bowhunter Education Class Offered In Fruita
FRUITA: Colorado Parks and Wildlife is offering
a free, Bowhunter Education class, Saturday and
Sunday, Aug. 17 and 18 at the Horsethief Canyon
State Wildlife Area.
In Colorado, the class is considered an advanced
hunter education course but is not required;
however, in many states, passing a Bowhunter
Education class is required before purchasing an
archery license. The Bowhunter Education card
earned by successful students in this class is ac-
cepted anywhere in the world where it is required
to purchase an archery hunting license.
Course topics include the bowhunter¡¯s responsi-
bilities, equipment, range estimation, hunt plan-
ning, tree stands, survival skills, basic first aid and
many other useful archery skills.
Archers with their own equipment are asked to
bring their bow and 3 arrows with field points for
the second day. For novice archers, equipment
will be available to borrow.
Space is limited, and pre-registration is required.
Please call 970.255.6100, or visit www.register-ed.
The class will break for lunch for one hour each
day; however, packing a sack lunch is recom-
Participants are encouraged to dress for the
elements and bring water, insect repellent and
The Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area is sev-
eral miles outside of Fruita. Take Interstate I-70 to
Fruita, Exit 19 and head south to Kingsview Road.
Turn west and follow the road for approximately
4 miles to the location.
For more information about Hunter Education in
Colorado, visit CPW¡¯s Hunter Education webpage
Free Bowhunter Education