Lesson 5 - Atlantic Hunter Ed Splash

Lesson 5 - Atlantic Hunter Ed Splash
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Lesson 5:
Hunter Survival Skills
Outdoor safety begins with good preparation. If you prepare yourself for a hunting trip you
can avoid many of the hazardous situations that could arise. The three “P’s” of outdoor
safety are:
1. Plan your trip. A productive and safe hunting trip begins with good planning. Who will
be going with you and what type of game will you be hunting? When will you be leaving
and when do you intend to return? Where is the hunt to take place and what will the
terrain and conditions be like? You’ll also need to consider how you’ll conduct the hunt
and get your game out.
2. Prepare yourself. Be mentally and physically ready to hunt. Deal with problems before
you leave home, know your health and fitness level, and learn about safety and first aid.
Besides yourself, you also need to prepare your equipment. Put together your basic gear
including a survival and first aid kit and know how to use them.
3. Practice safe behaviour. Make sure your firearm is in good working order and properly
sighted-in. Consider short outings to test your equipment and yourself prior to the
season. Hunt with a partner and tell someone where you are going and when you will
return. Be as specific as you can.
Experienced hunters prepare themselves before each hunt.
This preparation can be basic or made more thorough by taking
courses. You should prepare yourself in these areas:
Survival is the ability to cope with an emergency situation that occurs in the outdoors.
Knowing how to cope with emergencies is essential for hunters. Basic survival techniques
should be learned and practiced by every hunter before going into the field.
1. Mentally
Know your capabilities and develop a calm, alert frame
of mind. Deal with any personal problems so you are
not distracted by them on your hunt.
Fire drills are a regular practice, even though a real fire seldom happens. But should there
ever be a fire, you’ll know what to do. Similarly, practicing survival techniques makes good
sense. If an emergency happens while hunting, you’ll know what to do. You will be able to
cope with the situation if you become lost or disabled.
2. Physically
Exercise on a regular basis for at least a month
before your hunt. Hunting requires a lot of
energy, strength, and endurance. You will
be walking long distances carrying a pack
and firearm and you may have to carry heavy
loads through dense bush or over hills. Bad
weather is always a possibility. If you are fit,
you will be able to handle these situations.
A survival situation usually lasts less than 72 hours and seldom longer than five days.
Organizing and conducting searches can take time and you’ll need to rely on your own
resources to survive until help comes.
If you are in trouble, stay calm. Accept the fact that immediate help may not be available.
Resist the urge to travel further, seeking safety if you’re lost. Stay put! Collect your thoughts
and put the survival procedure outlined in this lesson into practice. This procedure is designed
to sustain life with as little discomfort as possible until help arrives.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
3. Medically
Make sure you have no serious medical problems. Have a checkup before you go. This can
prevent problems from developing while you are in a remote area. Treat small problems such
as a cold or a blister to prevent them from developing into serious problems on your hunt.
A survival kit is a compact, weatherproof kit that contains a number of items which are very
useful in an emergency. The ideal
survival kit is small enough to fit in a
jacket pocket or waist pack so that it is
always carried rather than left behind
because it is too heavy or bulky.
4. Safety and First Aid
Learn all you can about safety and first aid. Take a first aid course. Read books and manuals.
Practice making a fire, building a shelter, reading a compass and map, first aid techniques
and other safety activities. With practice, you will be able to perform these activities more
easily if an emergency occurs.
Although many excellent survival kits
are available from commercial outlets
they do not always meet the particular
needs of an individual. Besides, you
may want to make your own. The
following list includes components for
a survival kit that you may wish to put
together. Feel free to alter the kit to
meet your needs.
5. Know the Region
Learn all you can about the area where you are going to hunt. Study a map of the area and
locate good areas to camp. Know the terrain and identifiable landmarks. Is it hilly? Are there
rivers or streams? What is the vegetation like? What will the weather be like? This information
will guide you in choosing your equipment and improve your chance to have a
successful hunt.
6. Plan With Your Hunting Companions
Choose your hunting companions carefully. Are they skilled, safe, and reliable? Will they make
good companions in camp conditions? Are they prepared mentally?
When making your survival kit, include items from the following categories:
1. Shelter
2. Fire starters
3. Signal devices
4. Water purification
5. Food
6. Navigation
7. Medical
A hunting plan is a written record of your hunting trip. Leaving a written record of your
hunting trip with family or friends tells others of your travel intentions, helps you better
prepare for your hunt, and can improve your knowledge of the area to be hunted.
To give you confidence in the kit, practice using each item before you take the kit on a trip.
Items that should be part of your hunting plan include:
• When you are leaving and when you will return
• Destination
• Vehicle description
• Who is going
• Method of travel
• Cell phone number (if applicable)
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Common Survival Kit Items
Container: an empty tin or tobacco can, or a sealed plastic container, of a convenient size.
(NOTE: a metal container may also be used for cooking). Paint the container lid a bright colour
so it can be found if lost. Small holes should be drilled near the top of the container and wire
handles attached for cooking.
Nails: 4 assorted sizes.
Pencil and Paper
Snare Wire: 3 metres of copper or brass wire for snares, repairs.
Oxo Cubes: 4
Tea Bags and/or Cocoa in Foil Packets
Signal Mirror: with signalling instructions.
Tape: 1 metre black electrician’s tape for repairs and to seal the kit.
Candle: light, fire starter.
Metal Spoon
Heavy-duty aluminum foil: two 30 cm squares for reflectors, cups, bowls, etc.
Survival Blanket: personal shelter.
Plastic Whistle (“pealess” type): can be heard at greater distance, saves energy and voice.
Plastic Garbage Bag (orange or yellow): by making a hole in the bag for the face and
putting it on over the head, it will keep you dry and warm.
Extra Compass
Signal Flares (small pencil type)
Matches: wooden, strike-anywhere matches, waterproofed with shellac, paraffin or
nail polish.
Flint and Steel
Fire Starter Tablet: burns for approximately 6 minutes.
Absorbent Cotton and/or Steel Wool (extra fine or 000): excellent tinder, easily ignited.
Knife: small pocketknife with 2 blades.
Fishing Equipment: 2 spoons, 2 dry flies, 2 wet flies, 2 snelled hooks, 4 lead split-shot, 4
metres of monofilament line (4 kg) test.
Safety Pins: 4 assorted sizes.
Needle and Thread
Becoming lost can be a very frightening and alarming
experience for any individual regardless of their skills in
the outdoors. However with a few simple steps, a search
and rescue for a lost individual or group can be highly
successful if the situation is reacted to immediately.
At the very instant that a person or group of people
become lost, a good rule to remember is based on the
acronym STOP.
STOP as soon as it is apparent that you have become separated from your group, are lost, or
in trouble. Further attempts at travel usually reduce chances of survival.Those who stay put
within a short distance of the last seen point are almost always found alive, while those who
try to find their way back to civilization suffer a higher risk of death. This is because traveling
even a relatively short distance greatly reduces the probability of being found by searchers.
A circle with a 1.5 km radius has an area of about 7.1 km2. At a radius of 3.0 km, the area
increases to 28.3 km2. It is true that most people do find their own way out. However, among
the 20 percent or so who do not, fewer than half are found alive by searchers. In most cases,
the odds are far better if you stay put, especially if someone knows exactly where to begin
looking and will start a search quickly. The solo hiker who did not file a “trip plan” or failed to
stick to the expressed route may have no option but to travel.
THINK things over carefully. What just happened? How did you arrive here? From where?
What time is it? Survival depends upon rational behaviour and the will to survive. The
natural and almost universal response to being lost is anxiety verging on panic. Fear of the
unknown, of wild animals, of impending discomfort, and of death comes early, and later is
often exceeded by loneliness, boredom, and despair. Sitting down really helps. It is harder
to panic when you are sitting! Anxiety is the greatest danger. It impairs logical reasoning,
and, because it interferes with the efficient production of metabolic heat, predisposes the
anxious individual to hypothermia. Simple relaxation techniques such as rhythmic breathing,
counting, or hard tensing of the body followed by relaxation can help.
OBSERVE and assess all of your gear and clothing carefully. In a remarkable number of tragic
cases, victims have been found with, or near, supplies that could have saved their lives had
they had the presence of mind to make use of them. Make noise and make it easy for people
to see you. Three of anything, such as three mirror flashes, yells, or whistle blasts constitute
the equivalent of “SOS”. Early signaling can help the group of hunters relocate its missing
member before a full-scale search is required.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Survival Factors
Pain is nature’s way of telling a person that something
is wrong. Attend to any injuries immediately,
using appropriate first aid treatment and available
PLAN and prepare a shelter. Staying warm and dry is the key to survival. Long before dark,
locate the most sheltered site nearby and begin building a shelter, gathering insulation and
collecting fuel. Allow at least three hours to do this! Do it while you have time, energy,
and daylight in your favour. Mark the area well so that searchers will not miss it in the dark.
Know how to build emergency shelters in the areas you frequent. Each area lends itself to
different possibilities, from pole and bark structures or bough piles to a host of snow shelters
(quinzees, caves, trenches, and igloos), each suited to certain conditions. Do not rely totally
upon being able to construct a shelter of native materials. Items from your survival kit such as
a knife and string will be invaluable in the construction of an emergency shelter.
If your mind is busy making plans to cope with your
situation, you’ll feel pain less and may even forget
about it for a while. If you give in to the pain, you
might stop trying to survive.
Stay put for the reasons previously discussed and to conserve energy. If you need to travel,
move only in daylight and if you are sure of your goal. One exception to daylight travel may
occur during very hot weather, when it may be necessary to rest during the day, to avoid the
drying effects of extreme heat and low humidity.
Cold is a serious threat to survival. Victims of cold often lose the ability to function normally
and wil find it hard to think about anything other than becoming warm.
If you find a trail, it may not be the one from which you strayed. Beware of taking the wrong
trail or taking a trail in the wrong direction! A cardinal rule for lost persons is never, ever leave
a trail or road except to follow a larger or more heavily used trail or road!
Exposure to cold, wetness and wind, even in temperatures that are not considered severe, can
lead to hypothermia.
To survive in the outdoors, the hunter must find ways to maintain body temperature by
staying dry, building a fire and constructing a shelter for protection from the weather.
There are six basic requirements to most wilderness
survival situations:
Don’t think about how thirsty you are. A person can survive for two or three days without
water if they are in normal health.
mental self control
help signal
Instead, keep your mind active and busy with plans for coping with the situation at hand.
Such activity may even make you forget, for a while, how thirsty you are.
Later, you can easily locate water near your survival camp or collect it when it rains or snows.
Though hunger will make you feel uncomfortable, it is not a serious factor in most survival
situations. Your body fat will supply energy to enable you to survive two weeks or more, if
your health is normal.
Mental self-control is crucial in an emergency
survival situation. Panic is a killer! Your ability to
think clearly and avoid panic is your most important
survival skill. It will be influenced by survival factors
such as pain, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, boredom,
and fear. No matter how severe these feelings are,
they can be overcome when you know how to deal with them.
When you are tired you do not think clearly and can become careless. Extreme fatigue can
even destroy a person’s desire to survive.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Fear of the Unknown
Fear of the unknown is by far the most common fear of any we experience. Practicing survival
skills and thinking about how to cope with new and unusual situations, should they arise,
will prepare you to handle most “unknowns”. Reading other people’s accounts of their survival
experiences and trying to place yourself in their shoes will better prepare you to deal with
this fear.
Though over-exertion is the usual cause of fatigue, lack of sleep and boredom may contribute
to it. Try to rest as much as possible and avoid over-exertion. By making a comfortable shelter
you will be able to sleep soundly and avoid fatigue.
Boredom and Loneliness
Boredom and loneliness creep up on you when nothing happens and nobody comes to rescue
you. You may act irrationally and your actions could make matters worse.
When an unexpected emergency arises, the immediate questions that flash through a
person’s mind are “What is going to happen to me? Will they find me?” It helps to know you are
not lost but just “misplaced”. Someone will find you.
Your reaction to boredom and loneliness can often be more of a problem to your survival than
any physical factors such as pain, cold, thirst or hunger.
Boredom and loneliness can be overcome by:
1. Making decisions and acting on them.
2. Adapting to your situation and improvising solutions to problems.
3. Tolerating solitude.
4. Avoiding panic and keeping calm.
5. Thinking positively and planning ways to overcome problems.
6. Being patient.
7. Keeping your hands busy - even by whittling a stick.
Fear of Animals
Most animals are wary of humans and will stay out of their way. Learning about wildlife and
their habits will help you overcome this fear. Don’t let your imagination conjure up dangers
from wildlife that are not real.
Making noise around your camp and keeping a fire going at night will make animals such as
bears, coyotes or wolves shy away from you.
Fear of Being Alone
We are seldom alone in our daily lives. Being alone is almost an unknown experience for
many. Solitude and solving problems for ourselves is something every outdoors person must
learn to cope with through solitary outdoor experiences. Spend time on your hunting and
fishing trips getting away from your companions to learn what it’s like to be alone in the
outdoors. You should learn to view wildlife positively. Animals can be a potential source of
food to you and they also provide interesting company.
Fear is a normal reaction. Everyone has been afraid.
Fear affects the way you behave and, if not overcome, it can become your greatest obstacle to
survival. In a survival situation, you may experience:
1. Fear of death
5. Fear of darkness
9. Fear of discomfort
2. Fear of the unknown
6. Fear of weakness
10. Fear of personal guilt
3. Fear of animals
7. Fear of punishment
4. Fear of being alone
8. Fear of ridicule
Fear of Darkness
When it is dark, we depend more on hearing than seeing things around us. We often hear
sounds in the darkness and imagine all sorts of threats to us. Most of us have experienced this
fear at some time. Practicing being alone in the dark will help overcome this fear.
The best way to deal with these ten basic fears is to prepare yourself mentally to:
Fear of Weakness
People are stronger than they realize. Countless experiences have proved that people acting
under stress can accomplish superhuman tasks. Be confident that you can cope with any
physical or mental problem if you think about it logically. Plan a step-by-step approach for
solving the problem and then act.
• identify which fears you are feeling; and
• try to understand why you are afraid and use common sense to deal with and overcome
each particular fear.
Fear of Death
Until faced with a life or death situation, most people seldom think about death. If you follow
the survival procedure outlined in this chapter, your chances of staying alive are excellent.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Natural Shelters
Natural shelters are created by nature
but require additional work to make
them weather proof. A large rock or an
overhanging rock shelf will sometimes make
an ideal shelter. Check to make sure that the
rock is stable and will not fall on you.
Fear of Punishment
Because most of us are used to meeting time commitments such as being home for supper,
we get concerned about being late. When you’re lost and alone, don’t worry about missing
appointments. Being late will alert your friends to the fact that you are lost and they will
begin to search for you.
Fear of Ridicule
Normally, getting yourself lost will embarrass you and you will worry about what your
companions will think about you. You’re afraid they’ll think you are dumb for getting into
such a predicament. Don’t worry – each and every one of them will likely have been in a
similar situation and they’ll understand how it happened to you. If you explain how you
coped with the situation, they will envy you rather than ridicule you.
A fire built in front of such a shelter will
reflect heat to you and keep you warmer
than a fire built in the open.
Fear of Discomfort
If you follow the basic steps of survival outlined in this lesson, there is no reason why you
should experience severe discomfort.
A quick and easy shelter can also
be made under the trunk of a
“blowdown” or fallen tree. Strip the
branches off the underside of the
trunk and use these and branches
from other trees to thatch the roof.
Do not cut any branches that are
supporting the tree. In each case
make sure the tree is secure.
Fear of Personal Guilt
In a survival situation, blaming yourself for the situation will accomplish nothing. It is not
what you did wrong to get into trouble that counts; it’s what you do right from now on that
will make the difference. Think positively at all times.
Helplessness and hopelessness are two factors that increase fear. Through training and
putting into practice survival techniques, your fears will be overcome by confidence in your
ability to handle a survival situation.
In deep snow, locate a spruce or fir tree and remove
snow from the base of the tree. Branches at snow
level form a natural roof. These can be thatched with
other branches.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Man-made Shelters
A lean-to can easily be made in forested terrain. Support from a horizontal bar or
“ridgepole” about 1 metre from the ground is the only major requirement. A lean-to 1.0 to 1.3
metres high provides more openness but one 45 to 60 cm high is more heat-efficient. Look
for crotches in nearby trees or stick poles upright into the ground or snow. Lean small trees
or branches butt-end down against the horizontal bar. Interweave branches to thatch the
shelter. This will secure it, make it stronger and more water resistant. Mark the location of the
shelter very clearly.
Construct your shelter with the wind coming from the back and at a slight angle. This
prevents smoke blowing into the lean-to. Cover the floor with 20 to 25 cm of boughs to act as
a mattress and as insulation against the cold ground.
3. Start thatching at the bottom with
butt-ends up.
A sheet of plastic, covering the roof, will make it waterproof. Snow placed on the shelter
will insulate it. In late fall or winter construct your shelter on the leeward sides of ridges,
protected from the wind, as opposed to valleys. Build a fire between your shelter and a heat
reflector made of logs or stones.
Ridgepole Attachment Methods
Locate a suitable spot for a shelter.
Select and attach a sturdy ridgepole.
2. Attach framing poles to ridgepoles
at a spacing of 30 to 46 cm.
4. Thatch boughs to top of framing poles
Cover floor with 20 to 25 cm of boughs for insulation.
Build fire from dry, dead wood and use rocks or a log to
reflect heat into the shelter.
and cover ends too.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Snow Caves
If you can find a snow drift, chances are it will
make a good snow cave. A one-person cave should
be dug 1.0 metres wide by 2.5 metres deep and
high enough for comfort. Place a 10 to 15 cm
diameter hole in the roof to maintain ventilation.
Use a snowblock to cover the entrance. Construct
a sleeping ledge about 30 cm above the floor and
cover it with boughs. Arching the inside of the roof
helps water run down the sides instead of dripping
on you. Snow caves may use a lot of energy and
be hard to dig. It is difficult not to get wet while
digging in the snow. These problems make the
snow cave less desirable than other forms of shelter.
Tinder, Kindling and Fuel
Fires will not usually start burning directly from a match. Small twigs, wood shavings, birch
bark, lichens, dry leaves, grass, tissue paper and other easily flammable materials are needed
to get the fire started. Pile the tinder in a low pyramid. Powder from a cartridge, sprinkled
over the tinder may help it to burn. The lower dead branches from the trunks of spruce and
balsam fir make excellent “kindling”. Spruce and fir blowdowns can also be good sources of
Snow Drift
if available
Air Vent
for door
Larger branches as well as sections of tree trunks make the best “fuel” for keeping a fire
burning, especially overnight. You should stockpile fuel for your fire so that you do not have to
search for it after dark.
Plan for the worst when you first build your shelter. Sleeping Shelf
Conserve and build upon all resources available
from the beginning. You may be faced with greater
emergencies. To be safe from the elements,
disregard the possibility of an early rescue when you build your shelter. Set yourself to
building a shelter which is secure and comfortable. It should be constructed so it will require
as little maintenance as possible once it is finished. The importance of doing the job well,
while you are able to do it, cannot be over-emphasized.
Ignition Source
A butane lighter that is reliable and windproof can solve many of your fire starting problems.
Long wooden matches of the “strike-anywhere” variety are the most practical matches for
lighting fires. A waterproof, unbreakable container will keep your matches dry. Matches
should be tested before going into the field as not all makes of matches will be useful in
harsh conditions, particularly windy or rainy weather.
To prevent matches from accidentally catching fire inside the container:
• Place half of the matches upside-down to keep their heads from
rubbing together.
• Dip the matches in paraffin wax. This will also waterproof them
and make them burn longer.
• Pack cotton batting into the container to keep them from striking
against each other. The cotton will also make good tinder.
Fire provides security, comfort and has a way of putting fear
and worry out of the mind. With a fire, you can warm yourself,
dry your clothing, signal for assistance, cook a meal and enjoy
a safe and comfortable night. When hunting always carry the
means to light a fire.
A Metal Match and steel wool from your survival kit can also be used. Light the steel wool and
blow softly on the flame. Add kindling gradually. Use care not to smother the fire.
Finding a Fireplace
Carefully prepare your location for the fireplace. First, build a platform of logs or stones if
building the fire on snow. Avoid wet porous rocks as they can explode when heated. Brush all
grass, leaves and tinder away if the ground is dry. Never build a fire under a tree. Sparks can
easily catch branches on fire, or heat from the fire can melt snow on overhanging branches
and get everything wet. Build your fire against a rock-wall or logs which can reflect the heat
into your shelter.
A flint and a piece of steel provide another fire starting method. If you don’t have flint, look
for a piece of rock that will spark when struck with steel. Direct the sparks towards the tinder.
Remember These Hints
Store kindling and fuel in the shelter to keep it dry. Don’t waste matches trying to start a fire
if you haven’t properly prepared the location and material for the fire. Lighting cigarettes
wastes matches. To conserve fuel, keep your fire small.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Spring/Summer: young plants, fish, eggs, young animals, birds and frogs.
Water is generally more vital than food in an emergency survival situation. Your survival time
without drinking water is normally three days or less whereas healthy people can survive
three weeks or more without food.
Fall: nuts, acorns, cranberries, wintergreen berries, clams, snails, fish, animals and birds.
Winter: inner bark from trees, tender shoots, roots, tree seeds found in cones, animals, birds,
wintergreen berries, acorns and ants.
Though finding water is not a problem in the Atlantic
Provinces, you must purify it. Some methods you can use:
Space does not permit describing in detail here what things
not to eat, but a few pointers can be given. A cardinal rule is to
never eat wild mushrooms, even if you are starving and they
are abundant, unless you are absolutely sure they are of a nonpoisonous kind. If you should be reduced to eating tree bark,
and some bark is fairly nutritious, avoid that of the cherries.
The cherry species, Black, Pin and Choke, all contain dangerous
amounts of cyanide in their leaves, twigs and barks. The fleshy
fruit, however, is harmless. Avoid plants having white berries.
1. Boil water - Water should be brought to a rolling
boil for at least one minute. To improve taste, add
a small piece of charcoal to the boiling water. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Strain. Aerate
water by shaking vigorously.
2. Chemical methods - Water purification tablets such as iodine and halazone can be used
to purify drinking water. Follow directions on the label and be aware that the tablets
may deteriorate over time and not be effective. Iodine can also be added as a liquid but
generally gives water a strong iodine taste.
3. Filtration - There are a variety of portable filtration systems that remove bacteria,
viruses and protozoa. Follow instructions.
During an emergency survival situation you must be able to signal searchers your location.
The two basic types of signals are noise signals and ground to air signals. As a general rule,
signals of three are considered a universal signal for help when lost.
As long as your body has water, it will utilize stored food reserves, which even a lean person
possesses. Without food a person will naturally feel weaker than under normal conditions,
especially if they are doing much physical activity. For this reason, lost persons having neither
rations nor immediate means of securing food should concentrate on doing the essential
tasks as soon as possible, before energy starts to lessen. Then they can rest and conserve
energy for jobs like signaling and keeping watch. Resting, they can survive for many days
without feeling too uncomfortable, and can, by an effort of will, hang on for weeks in
average weather.
1. Noise signals
Firing three shots, three yells, or three whistle blasts are examples of noise signals that lost
hunters or others in a survival situation can use to alert others of
their need for help. As a general rule a whistle will be heard farther
than yelling. Firing three evenly spaced shots will be heard the
farthest distance but you may wish to conserve at least some of
your ammunition in order to harvest game for food. Also, firing
three shots can be mistaken for hunting activity.
Survivors of such ordeals report that the worst periods are at the accustomed mealtimes,
especially during the second and third days. After that, the body apparently adapts itself
somewhat to the lack of food, and gets, as it were, “a second wind”. However, the chances of
going this long without being found are remote, provided you take care to keep a good lookout and keep signal fires and ammunition ready.
2. Ground to air signals
Mirror signals, fires, emergency flares, SOS signals made from brush
or stomped in the snow, and waving brightly colored clothing in
the air are all examples of ground to air signals that have helped
searchers find lost hunters from the air. Signals made in the open
are the most likely to be seen. If using a fire, keep the ground
around the fire clear of woody debris and other fuels that could start
a forest fire. Have a supply of conifer brush handy to put on the fire
as it will create a considerable amount of smoke. Make yourself and
your signals as large as possible.
The time of year will have considerable bearing on which types
of food are available in the woods. You should therefore look
for those things, which can be expected at that season. Always
positively identify potential foods before you eat them. Don’t
assume that because a bird or animal can eat something that
you will be able to. Consider the following list with care.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Wear several layers of light clothing under a heavy jacket with a complete outer suit of
waterproof rain clothes. With your normal supplies, be certain to include a complete change
of warm clothing stored in a waterproof container, flashlight, matches, knife, rope and high
energy food rations such as chocolate, nuts and raisins for emergencies.
Every year thousands of hunters take to boats and water and every year hunters drown.
Since hunting from a boat takes a hunter to fairly remote spots, extra caution is needed.
Proper equipment is part of being safe. Being prepared is the key.
File a trip plan with friends, relatives, the local RCMP, Fisheries and Oceans officer or Coast
Guard. Check with the weather office before your trip. They can supply both short and longrange forecasts.
Required Safety Equipment
The Small Vessels Regulation under the Canada Shipping Act requires all powered pleasure
craft not over 6.0 metres in length to have on board:
If using an outboard motor, carry a spare propeller, shearpins, sparkplugs and a tool kit. If
hunting on the ocean, be sure to carry a compass and a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit,
a spare motor and a supply of fresh water sufficient for several days longer than your trip.
Should your starter break, remove the starter housing and use a short rope wrapped around
the flywheel to start the engine.
• one Canadian approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or life-jacket of appropriate size for each person on board,
• one buoyant heaving line of not less than 15 metres in length,
• one manual propelling device (paddle) or an anchor with not less than 15 metres of cable,
rope, or chain,
On board, wear a properly certified PFD (Personal Floatation
Device) or life jacket at all times. A proper PFD should cause a
person to float upright in a relaxed position or if they become
unconscious while in the water.
• a class 5BC fire extinguisher if the boat has an inboard motor, a fixed fuel tank, or a
cooking or heating device that burns liquid or gaseous fuel,
If the boat capsizes or you are thrown into the water, stay
with the boat unless it is in danger. Conserve your energy by
moving as little as possible. Don’t remove clothing.
Air trapped in clothing will help you float and it will help reduce heat loss. Keep your cap
on even if it gets wet. Grab a piece of equipment to help you float. Place decoys inside your
clothing but free their anchor lines if necessary. Hold onto gas containers. Oars can also help.
If you have only one, put it under your chin and spread your arms along its length. If you have
two, roll on your back and put one oar under your knees and the other under the back of your
neck. Stretch arms along its length. Keep the toes of your boots out of the water. They will
float at the toes. Float on your back, face-up and use a gentle back stroke. WARNING: Hip or
chest waders should never be worn in boats.
• one bailer or one manual water pump,
• a watertight flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares; a sound signal device (whistle, horn),
• and appropriate navigation lights.
Safety equipment required under the Small Vessels Regulation varies depending on the
length and type of boat you are using.
Federal regulations also require operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor to take a
boating safety course. This requirement became mandatory for all operators on Sept. 15,
2009. Contact the Canadian Coast Guard for additional information on safety gear and
course requirements.
If you are wearing your PFD or life jacket, you have a much better chance of surviving.
Keep as much of your body out of the water as possible to conserve body heat, especially the
head, neck and chest. If possible, climb out of the water onto the overturned boat or floating
debris. If you must stay in the water, assume the HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture)
or Huddle position to lessen body heat loss. Remember, make every attempt to conserve
energy. Many drowning victims die as a result of hypothermia. A survival suit significantly
increases your survival time in cold water.
Wait until help arrives. If you reach land, build a fire immediately and dry your clothing. Stay
by the fire until someone comes or you are thoroughly dry and know you can get to shelter
unassisted. All waterfowl hunters should take boating and swimming courses.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
To use either the HELP or Huddle position you
must be wearing a PFD or life jacket.
Travel using an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or snowmobile is a
common practice while hunting in many parts of Atlantic
Canada. ATV or snowmobile users should always be cautious
when using this type of equipment. Travelling on frozen bays,
lakes or ponds can be particularly hazardous if ice conditions
are poor. When travelling in groups it is always important to
use a buddy system to ensure that no member of the group
gets lost or left behind if a breakdown or emergency occurs.
HELP Position
(Heat Escape Lessening Posture) - Hold upper arms securely to
your sides and keep legs together to to protect armpits,
sides and groin.
Huddle Position
Huddle with two or more people
to extend your survival time 50
percent longer than swimming.
Some general points to consider when travelling on ATV’s
or snowmobiles:
• Always wear a helmet.
• Know how to properly operate your equipment.
• Always carry a tool kit, spare spark plugs, pull cords, fuel, tire repair kit and pump (ATV’s),
etc. in case of a breakdown.
• Never overload equipment.
• Know the ATV and snowmobile regulations for your province.
The most important rule when it comes to ice safety is to stay off the ice. If you find yourself
in a situation where you must cross ice, it should be at least 8 to 10 cm thick for a person
walking. Clear ice is generally stronger than ice that contains snow or slush. Keep in mind
that the presence of underwater springs, moving water, and objects frozen in the ice can
significantly reduce ice thickness and strength.
First aid is emergency medical assistance given to someone immediately after an injury or
their becoming ill but before they receive full medical treatment.
In most cases injury victims can be saved by the first person on the scene, if that person is
properly trained. When considering hunter safety this is crucial. Falls, heart attacks, cuts,
hypothermia, sudden illness and firearm related incidents are examples of outdoor situations
where knowing what to do would be crucial.
If you do break through,face the direction you were
travelling from because this ice held you until that
point. Extend your arms flat on the ice surface and
kick your feet to the surface of the water. Try to
squirm the upper part of your body onto the ice. Roll
quickly to one side away from the edge. Once you
are out of the water, immediately get to shore and
build a fire to warm yourself and dry your clothing.
All hunters should take a first aid course offered by an accredited first aid
training agency such as the Canadian Red Cross or St. John Ambulance.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
You should never go into the field without a first aid kit. The size and shape of the kit will
depend on how it will be carried. Larger, hard case first aid kits are more suitable for the
camp or vehicle while smaller fanny pack types should be carried with you in your backpack,
jacket pocket, or on your waist.
When people begin to lose heat from exposure, they will shiver and exercise to stay warm.
These actions drain energy and slowly lead to exhaustion. The body’s energy reserves will be
depleted and the body core temperature will drop further.
If untreated, exposure leads to hypothermia, the number one killer of those who participate
in outdoor activities.
Kit Contents
Your first aid kit, like your survival kit, should be completely familiar to you. Know what it
contains and how to use each item properly.
Hypothermia Defenses
You have three defenses against hypothermia:
1. Avoid exposure - Stay dry. Wet clothing loses about 90 percent of its insulating value.
Put on rain gear before you get wet. Put on wool clothes before you start shivering.
Wool helps hold body heat even when wet. Wear a hat and gloves. Beware of the wind,
which greatly affects temperatures. It may be 4° C outside with the sun shining but a
32 km wind lowers the temperature to -8° C. Most hypothermia cases develop in air
temperatures between -1° C and 10° C. Most people don’t believe such temperatures
are dangerous.
2. Terminate exposure - If you can’t stay dry and warm under existing weather
conditions, get out of the wind and rain. Build a fire. Construct a shelter. Make camp
before you are tired.
3. Detect hypothermia - If your party is exposed to wind, cold and moisture,
think hypothermia. Watch for these symptoms:
• Uncontrollable shivering (may be absent in later stages)
• Vague, slow, slurred speech
• Memory lapses, confused or unusual behaviour
• Lack of coordination, fumbling hands, numbness, stumbling, lurching gait
• Drowsiness and apparent exhaustion
• Body temperature below 35° C
In addition to basic first aid items, your family doctor may suggest that any needed personal
medication be included in your first aid kit. First aid training will familiarize you with your kit
contents and their proper uses.
First Aid Handbook
Band-Aids (6 to 12)
Butterfly Bandages (6 to 12) Roll of Gauze (2.5 cm)
Petroleum Gel
Razor Blade
Small Mirror
Mole Skin
Change for Telephone
Surgical Gloves
Sterile Dressings (10x10cm)
Triangle Bandages (2)
Adhesive Tape
Small Scissors
Crêpe Bandage
Safety Pins
Antibacterial Soap
Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when a person’s inner body temperature drops more
than two degrees below normal. The body becomes seriously cold,
loses heat faster than it can produce it and, as a result, cannot keep
itself warm.
Treatment of Mild or Moderate Hypothermia
1. Remove any wet clothing and dry
the casualty.
2. Warm the casualty by wrapping them
in blankets, putting on dry clothing and
moving him or her to a warm place.
3. Apply available heat sources such as a
hot water bottle or heating pad if the
victim is dry, or normal body heat from
another person.
Factors that contribute to the onset of hypothermia include:
Exposure to the cold or cool temperatures
Becoming wet
Poor planning
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
4. Give warm liquids to an alert casualty.
5. Do not rewarm too quickly.
6. Handle gently.
If the victim is in an advanced state of hypothermia he or she will appear
semi-conscious or unconscious with bluish-grey skin, rigid muscles, shallow
breathing and weak pulse.
Reading (°C)
Equivalent Temperature (°C)
Estimated Wind Calm
Speed (km/hr)
Frostbite is a type of cold emergency occurring in specific body parts
exposed to the cold. In superficial frostbite the skin is frozen but not the
tissues below. In deep frostbite both the skin and underlying tissues are
1. Do not attempt to rewarm. Do not rub or massage the victim’s skin.
Warming will cause cold blood from the extremities to return to the core of
the body, further lowering body-core temperature that may lead to death.
2. Place victim in dry clothes, blankets or a sleeping bag to prevent further
heat loss.
3. Do not permit the victim to walk. Transport to a medical facility
immediately. Advanced hypothermia requires special rewarming
methods. If the victim appears dead from hypothermia and drowning,
start mouth-to-mouth respiration immediately and continue during
transport. Do not give up. Drowning victims taken from cold water
sometimes take several hours to respond.
Signs and Symptoms of Frostbite
• Lack of feeling in the affected area
• Skin that appears waxy
• Skin that is cold to the touch
• Skin that is discolored (flushed, white, yellow, blue)
Wind speeds greater
than 64 km/hr have
little additional
Little danger
(to properly-clothed person)
Increasing danger
(exposed flesh may
freeze in 60 seconds)
Great danger
(exposed flesh may
freeze in 30 seconds)
3. Warm the area gently by immersing the affected part in water warmed to 40oC.
If possible, use a thermometer to check the water. If not possible, consider the water to
be too warm if it is uncomfortable to your touch.
4. Keep the frostbitten part in the water until it looks red and feels warm.
5. Bandage the area with a dry, sterile dressing. If fingers or toes are frostbitten, place
cotton or gauze between them. Avoid breaking any blisters.
6. Get the casualty to a doctor as soon as possible. Do not thaw the frozen part if there is a
possibility of refreezing. Frozen areas must not be allowed to refreeze.
Treatment of Frostbite
1. Cover the affected area.
2. Handle the area gently and never rub it because this causes further damage.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Frostbite and hypothermia can usually be prevented with common sense and the
following guidelines:
• Avoid exposing any part of the body to extreme cold.
• Wear a hat and layers of clothing made of tightly woven fibers, such as wool, that trap
warm air against your body. Keep vulnerable areas such as the fingers, toes, ears, and
nose protected and covered.
• Drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature. If hot drinks are
not available, drink plenty of plain water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which hinder the
body’s heat-producing mechanisms.
• Take frequent breaks from the cold to let your body warm up to better withstand brief
periods of exposure to extreme cold.
• Avoid being outdoors in the coldest part of the day.
Hunters should learn how to minimize their risk of contracting diseases when handling or
preparing game, or just being in the outdoors. The following precautions can greatly reduce
your risk of infection:
• Always examine any game you kill for obvious signs of
disease. Although sick animals are relatively rare, you
should be in the habit of doing both an external and
internal check of harvested game for signs of disease.
Diseased animals should be reported, not eaten.
• Use good hygiene practices when cleaning game. Wear
waterproof gloves (rubber, vinyl, latex) and protective
clothing such as waterproof coveralls, rubber boots,
and glasses. Avoid direct skin contact with meat,
blood, urine, feces, etc, of game animals during field
dressing, especially if you have a scratch, cut, or other
open wound. Wash and disinfect your hands and
cleaning tools thoroughly before and after dressing
out game.
• Use proper field dressing procedures.
Eviscerate or gut the carcass as soon as
possible. Avoid cutting the intestinal tract
(gut) and thus contaminating meat with fecal matter. Take care not to cut or scratch
yourself while cleaning game. Keep the carcass cool in the field and refrigerate or freeze
as soon as possible.
Cook all wild game well until there are no pink areas left, meat juices run clear, or to an
internal temperature of 80ºC (176ºF). Note that preparation and processing methods
such as freezing, curing, drying, and smoking do not ensure wild meat is free of diseasecausing organisms.
Avoid contact with wild animals that are acting strangely. Do not pick up or handle
any dead animals that you may find. Report sick or dead animals to your provincial
Health Department. If you should be bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound
thoroughly and see your family physician at once.
Minimize insect bites, especially those of mosquitoes, by wearing clothing that keeps
as much of the skin covered as possible and by using repellents. Check yourself for ticks,
especially after traveling through areas of heavy vegetation and remove any ticks found
immediately with tweezers.
Never drink water from lakes, rivers or streams without first sterilizing it, no matter how
clean it looks. Heating water to a rolling boil for at least one minute can kill most waterborne disease causing organisms.
If you use a dog to hunt make sure it is properly vaccinated, especially for diseases that
are transmittable to people such as rabies. Avoid letting your dog run unsupervised. If a
wild animal should bite your dog, seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Keep a clean camp. Make sure garbage and other wastes are properly disposed of.
Keep camp foods sealed and out of reach to avoid attracting animals. Close any entrances
on the inside and outside of your camp to keep mice, bats, etc, from entering.
Wash cooking utensils thoroughly and remember to practice good personal hygiene.
Be aware of wildlife diseases. Review the following summary and follow the
recommended practices to reduce your risk of infection. For additional information,
contact your provincial Health Department.
LESSON 5: Hunter Survival Skills
Disease Summary
Method of infection for people
Inhaling air contaminated with particles of infected rodent
urine and feces, in particular that of deer mice.
Begins as a flu-like illness. Fever,
muscle pains and fatigue progress
within a few days to coughing and
shortness of breath. Lungs fill with
fluid and a respirator is often needed.
Potentially fatal.
Hunting camps must be completely sealed to prevent mice from
entering. Do not leave food out where it will attract mice. When
cleaning up mouse droppings, air out your camp for an hour or two
before beginning. Avoid sweeping up or vacuuming mice droppings,
which can inject viral particles into the air. Instead use rubber
gloves and a wet cloth and wet the material with bleach or similar
Giarda intestinalis
Contact with mouth, usually by drinking contaminated water.
Parasite is passed on via feces of infected animals such as
man and beaver. Disease may also be contracted by putting
something in your mouth that has come in contact with the
Diarrhea, cramps, upset stomach.
Sterilize all drinking water while outdoors, properly clean uncooked
food especially vegetables, and practice proper hygiene.
Lyme Disease
Borrelia burgdorferi
Bite of infected deer ticks.
Reddish “bulls-eye” rash around
the bite, nausea, dizziness, fatigue,
memory loss, heart disease,
temporary or chronic arthritis.
Dress to minimize exposed flesh when travelling through heavy
vegetation. Apply tick repellent to clothing. Check for and remove
ticks found on your body after outdoor excursions.
Contact with saliva of infected animals through bites, scratches.
Also contact with mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth and
Fever, headache, confusion, agitation,
and eventual fatal infection of brain
and spinal cord. Usually fatal once first
symptoms appear.
Avoid contact with wild animals acting sick or strange. Keep pet
vaccinations up to date. See your physician immediately if bitten or
scratched by any animal.
West Nile Virus
West Nile
Mosquito bites. Also direct contact with the blood of infected
Fever, headache, body aches. may
develop into lethal encephalitis or
swelling of the brain.
Wear gloves when cleaning game and cook all meat thoroughly.
Reduce mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and using
insect repellents.
Eating raw or undercooked pork and wild game products,
particularly bear, wild boar and seals infected with Trichinella.
Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue,
fever, muscle pains. Death is possible
in severe cases.
Cook meat products well. Clean meat grinders and utensils
thoroughly if you process your own meat. Avoid infecting pets by
feeding them raw meat.
Francisella tularensis
Handling infected animal carcasses, especially rodents, rabbits
and hares. Also from the bites of infected ticks and deerflies
and by consuming contaminated food and water.
Skin ulcers, swollen lymph glands,
inflamed eyes, sore throat,
Wear gloves when cleaning or handling animal carcasses, especially
hares. Practice proper hygiene.
Sin Nombre Virus
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