What got you started?

Joined
Nov 22, 2002
Messages
385
I was explaining to a friend why having the right gear is critical and it wasn't sinking in for him (why use a $100 flashlight or knife when a $10 one will do). It occured to me that it may take a traumatic experience for this lesson to hit home.

For me, it was a hunting trip on Kodiak island when I was a teenager. My brother and I arrived on the island and we immediately headed out on the hunt even though we were not prepaired and did not know the area at all. The lodge we were staying at provided us with a walkie-talkie, a mini flare gun and some rope. The first set back was the terrain. We had never moved through such thick, often thorny, undergrowth (18+ hours of light and all the water a plant can use). It was exhausting. The growth also hid countless deep drainage channels which we would periodically fall into (some as deep as 8ft). Occasionaly we would stumble into an alder patch of thick intertwined branches which would require climbing, squeezing and crawling to get through. We were ascending a steep mountain heading for a large bowl we could see at the top. After only a couple miles of this we were pretty wiped out, but we finally made it to treeline (very low in Alaska) and emerged gratefully into low growth tundra. After getting into position on the rim of the bowl we spotted a buck silouette skylined at the top. It was about a 400 yard shot (distance deterimined after looking at a topographic map the next day). I wouldn't take such a long shot now, but then I was young and dumb and went for it. I nailed it and watched the buck tumble all the way down the bowl to the small lake at the bottom. It was a long steep fall and it seemed to take forever. We had to splash throught some of the lake to reach the deer, we gutted it and split it in two with each of us carrying a bloody half.

That is when the clouds decended. It was probably around 9:30 pm and still light when the clouds hit. Visibility was reduced to about 20 yards, it was getting cold, we were wet, it was late, we were exhausted and were carrying a bloody carcass through Kodiak bear country. Somehow it didn't dawn on us how much danger we were in. We decided to head back to the lodge on dead reconing. Once past the tundra we hit the steep overgrown slopes. It was bad enough hauling a rifle and daypack through the stuff, but add a deer carcass and it was miserable. At some point during this stuggle it got dark. We were lost. We then realized we didn't know how to operate the walki-talkie. There seemed to be nothing to do but head down hill the best we could. Suddenly we heard loud crashes nearby as a large animal traveled through the thick growth at an incrediable speed. Kodiak bear! It finally sunk in that we were in a life or death situation, so we took the rope and hung the carcass. We had one cheap flashlight between the two of us, the alkaline cells were about drained. Even so the warm orange glow of the bulb was comforting if not useful. Hours passed as we stumbled like wounded animals. Finally we managed to get through on the walkie talkie, they were looking for us, and were told to keep heading down hill until we reached a creek and to follow it. We used the flare gun several times before they spotted it and they guided us in. What a happy moment that was when we spotted their flashlights.

After this experience I thought long and hard about all the mistakes we had made and vowed to never repeat them.

-- Dizos
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Messages
661
I've always been a little bit of a gear head, so for me it's a "nice little hobby that keeps me out of bars." ;) BUT..... I have never made the mistake of assuming the gear in the bag can replace the gear between the ears.

No one specific moment for me, but there are a couple that stand out in my mind for the purposes of reinforcement:

* I hadn't lived in Colorado for very long, and I was on my second honest-to-God Elk hunt. I've always been kind of a woodsy guy, never had much orientation trouble, but practically all of my hunting and deep woods experience was within a brisk walk of town, a highway, a river, etc. So I'm in the Rockies, it's friggin' cold, and I'm congratulating myself on having picked the proper layers of clothes. Altitude is somewhere around 10,500 feet and I'm hot on a fresh trail.... and all of a sudden A), it's 1630 hours and getting dark; B) one of those famous Micro-Blizzards is whipping up; C) all I have in my pocket is a friggin' folder and a bic lighter. Now remember, I'd been at this ALL DAY long, so not only was I about worn out but I was a LONG way from the vehicles. Got a little spooky for a minute or two, if you get my drift, and when the wind and snow ramped it up another notch it got a little spookier. I checked my bearings against what I could see of the surrounding peaks and ridges, plopped my dumb ass in the snow and slid/dropped/jumped down to about 8000 feet 'till I was out of the clouds and could get back to a trail.... and all ended well. Thing is, I already knew better than that - I was just a little cocky. But not no more. :eek:

* On a much more recent outing - a year or so before I moved back to KS - I was on a day hike with a buddy while we checked out our GPS's. He started at the South end of a drainage, I took the North fork and we were going to meet in the middle after about a 5 mile hike each. About two miles in I whiffed something that I took to be elk... until I rounded the corner and came face to face with mama bear and baby bear. Neither of them knew I was there (I was smelling *them*, remember ?) until the wind shifted and the cub caught my scent. He took off like a scalded rabbit... and mama spun around and stood up to check me out. At this point we were maybe 25 yards apart. I drew my .44mag, laid the red front sight on her nose and said "I just *know* you don't want me to shoot you, right?" After a pretty good staring contest she dropped down to all fours and took off after her cub, and again - all ended well for all concerned. On the other hand, I kept scenting them for the next couple of miles, and I never could tell if I was shadowing them or they were shadowing me. Regardless, the fact that I was prepared for the eventuality left me better able to cope with it.

You don't have to carry a lot to be prepared, but what you carry better be up to the task.
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2002
Messages
385
I agree that knowledge and planning are the most important factors. I guess to summarize lessons learned from the event would be:

1. Know the terrain. Carry and spend time with detailed topographic maps before entering a wilderness area.

2. Budget time and energy. Any wilderness undertaking should be well thought out, do not bite off more than you can chew. Expect the unexpected and plan for delays due to difficult terrain, inclement weather and emergencies.

3. Learn of hazards unique to an area. Learn how to spot them and avoid them (ie. Alder thickets on Kodiak)

4. Think. We ended up being reactive rather than proactive. This behavior could have resulted in tragedy (bear bait, hopelessly lost, hurt)

5. Be prepared. Bring reliable gear including the minimum to wait out a night.

6. Learn your gear. Spend time familiarizing yourself with all the tools you carry. If we had been able to operate the walkie-talkie earlier, we would have saved ourselves hours of misery.

-- Dizos
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2004
Messages
95
My brother and I were going out on over nighters when we were 10 or so and at the time it was not long before we knew how much we didn't know so I think that must have been when I got started reading all the books and such then I ran into a person that lives close to me, he is one of the woodsman of the old school and he was a big help, of course I grew up on the farm and dad had us doing alot when we were real young,I was useing a firearm at age 5 and could get my fair share of rabbits and such, dad only gave me one shell and I knew I better have something in hand if I used it,it was the way he was tought.Later on I grew more and more into wilderness survival-primitve survival,I had gone to college and came away not wanting to be around alot of people and towns and came back to the farm.Now I have to only go town when I want to and can work on my skills as I choose.Hard to say one thing that really got me started I think it was just part of what I am.
 

x39

Joined
Dec 27, 1999
Messages
1,296
My father was very influential in sparking my interest in preparedness and the outdoors. He was involved in USAF Air Rescue and an ardent hunter, fisherman, and woodsman. He had all sorts of interesting gear that he let me rummage through pretty much at will from an early age, and took me into the field whenever he could. I was also influenced by my years in the Boy Scouts. My troop was fortunate enough to have as troop leaders a couple of Marine Corps officers who were very commited to the whole camping and hiking aspect of scouting.
 
Joined
Aug 31, 1999
Messages
728
I've been an outdoorsman/hunter/part-time farmer all my life, but two events brought me to understanding the vulue of high quality equipment in the time of dire need. In chronological order:

1. 1998. My first computer, and exposure to like minded individuals (just like you) that I was able to gleen from, and share information with.

2. Watching the dazed, confused, and panic stricken survivors of the 9/11 attack. 2 months later, I had built my firts Altoid kit, my BOB was in progress, and I was licensed to carrying a concealed weapon.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2002
Messages
217
I dont know how I got into all of this, even as a young boy I would go into the woods with my army surplus gear and make a small camp and fish the local creeks. None of the other kids understood.......lol.....thats why I am glad I stumbled upon this site, lots of good people and great information
 
Joined
Sep 20, 2000
Messages
1,539
I always tried to be prepared for the foreseeable. If you're going on a hike, what might you need in the woods should you take a nasty fall? That sort of thing.

Then came 9/11. The Unthinkable. Attacked on our own soil -- again!

Trying to be prepared for the unthinkable is, in reality, quite difficult. Sometimes impossible. We can't go around carrying HAZMAT suits with us into work. We can't build bomb shelters if our townhouses have no basements.

I figure, in reality, a multiple-car pilup on the highway is far more likely, and occurs fairly frequently, I'm sad to say. So I carry gear like leather gloves, N95 respirators, a prybar, eye goggles, a first aid kit, several SureFire lights and LEDS, that sort of thing.

My family has grown used to my "eccentricities." :D
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
2,373
I grew up in Pennsylvania and we had a few hundred acres of "wildnerness", fallow fields, and farmland behind the house. It was a great area to play hooky, hunt, fish, trap, and escape from a bad home situation. My brothers and I each had our "forts" in the forest where we would skip school to poach on wildlife and camp out.

My parents built a summer home in the Appalachians were we had easy access the Appalachian Trail and many state game lands. My intrest in wilderness survival stems from our many semi-failed adventures on the these early camping trips. I think that everything I carry now was lacking on some early adventure. We learned the hard way. My daughter has all first rate gear and she dosen't know what life was like when we learned by trial and error.

Once I moved to Brazil in 1999 a whole new world of wilderness survival opened up for me. I am planning on doing a trip to the Amazon in the next few years. My goal is to do a survival trip in as many climate zones as I can.
Where I live in Brazil we have single canopy jungle and scrub land. The northern part of the state is desert.

Wilderness survival is a great hobby. It travels well and the gear is legal just about everywhere you would want to do it. (unlike my other hobby, firearms)

I like this board because there is a wealth of information that you can glean about methods and gear that would cost lots of time and money if you had to figure it all out for yourself. I don't consider myself an expert on survival so I limit my posts to things I have had personal experience with not just head knowledge. You can learn alot here no matter where your skill level is. Mac
 
Joined
Sep 24, 2004
Messages
738
Always a hiker/camper. Grew up on the edge of town. I was always proud that i knew how to build a camp, a fire and manage comfortably away from civilization. Most of my teen buddies were imports to Texas, one from Brooklyn, and they relied on me and my gear when we went anywhere wild. What really got me focused was Y2K. Yup. I was moderately certain 'something' might happen. That gave me the impetus to buy a few things and prepare for problems. I didn't build any hideouts in the woods or go nuts but I had an area where I was prepared to go if necessary. The worst thing was, nothing happened. I don't feel bad about being prepared and everything I bought was upgrades on what I already had. I later donated a lot of canned food to homeless shelters and tornado victims. I do still have a lot of 20ga slug, regularly practice with my bow and seem to have a lot of knives and firekits... :D
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2004
Messages
596
Hey Merek, what part of central Texas are you living ? We may be neighbors and not know it.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2004
Messages
596
I live about 30 to 45 minutes from you in the southern part of Blanco county. Shoot me an email at Wolf_rat @ hotmail .com. Maybe we could get together.
 
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