So, you shot an elk late in the evening and are on a blood trail. You are hunting in Grizzly bear land and could run into a wolf or cougar. It is getting dark and the truck is miles away. What to do?
Hopefully, you will find the downed critter. If not, you will need to start a fire because you will be safely spending the night. Travelling in the dark is dangerous. Even with a compass, navigation is tough. If you are lucky, maybe a road or trail will provide a landmark. Nighttime hiking often ends up with a fall, injury, or getting more lost.
A smart hunter is always prepared to spend the night. Mountain Men camped where they were when the sun went down. No Super 8’s or KOA’s. With luck they found a cave, blowdown, or made a simple shelter. These rough wilderness explorers always carried an oil cloth to make a quick shelter. A couple of lashed sticks, an overhang, or a log provided a basis for a shelter.
Fire was always a necessity. Heat, cooking, and protection made fire essential. Always carry a couple of fire producing tools. That Bic lighter may not always work. You may need several attempts if the weather is windy and wet. Carry a tinder bundle or fire-starting fuels/ sticks.
Always be aware of where you are. Landmarks are critical. Your battery in your GPS or cellphone may not have enough charge. A signal may not be available. Maps help.
Play the “IF”, game. IF I had to spend the night, where would be a good location. Consider windbreaks, structures, fire materials, water, and protection. A fallen tree can be ideal. Use the tree as a ridgepole and lay branches on the sides. Carry a small Space Blanket. Make a fire at the exit and crate a bed of pine boughs, leaves, or soft forest litter. A smaller area is easier to heat. What kind of spots would offer the best comforts overnight?
Carry a survival sleeping bag for these moments. They fold up to the size of a beer can and are light. Carry a filtering straw for water. You can slurp out of a puddle, marsh, pond, or stream safely. Carry some Bouillon packets and a metal water cup or small pan. Heating some water, bouillon and some scavenged roots, edibles plants, or… can be a treat.
Avoid spending the night in the wild but Be Prepared!
For more Montana Grant, find him comfortable under a fallen tree at www.montanagrantfishing.com.