Communicating a Request for Emergency Assitance in the Woods

By GPS1504, Oct 28, 2014 | |
  1. GPS1504
    When you set out on a hunt, it is important to take some measures to ensure your own safety and survival in the event things do not go as planned. Emergencies can occur at any time and you may find yourself in a vulnerable position. While it is not always possible to avoid unfortunate accidents or incidents in the field, it is possible to prepare for and plan to survive them. In order to do so, there are a few steps you should follow, such as:

    1. Considering and preparing for anything you might face by anticipating problems ahead of time.

    2. Knowing your location and sharing it with others, both those in your hunting party and those waiting at home.

    3. Carrying, and knowing how to use, a topographic map and compass.

    4. Equipping yourself with safety and survival materials such as first aid items, proper clothing, food, and water.

    5. Having the plans and knowledge required to build an emergency shelter should you find yourself stranded unexpectedly.

    6. Knowing and using various methods of calling for help.

    While all of these steps are of importance, it is probably the last one that gets the least attention. In a day and age where technology reigns supreme, salvation has been placed at our fingertips, which has spoiled some of us and created unrealistic expectations. Sure, it may be possible to pull your phone out of your pocket and call for help, but what if your phone is lost, broken, submerged in water, has a dead battery, or just plain does not work in the area where you find yourself needing it the most? It will then be necessary to find alternative means to request assistance, means which should be stored in the arsenal of knowledge carried by every Missouri whitetail hunter.

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    Photo: SE Missourian

    When it comes to signaling for help, be it on the ground or from the air, it is important to remember the rule of three. The number three is synonymous with a request for aid in the field. In addition to marking the ground with a large X visible from an aerial perspective, here are some of examples of useful requests for assistance are:

    • Three shots fired in succession.
    • Three flashes of a mirror.
    • Three fires spaced evenly.
    • Three blasts on a whistle.

    These calls for help are all excellent, unless tragedy has befallen you in such a manner that you cannot use them. If you have taken a tumble and possibly broken a limb, for example, you may have dropped any or all of the supplies you were carrying with you. Being injured may also hamper your ability to build signal fires or mark the ground with anything that might be visible from an aerial perspective. Should such a tragedy as this occur, how are you to call for help in order to survive?

    Having someone expecting you at a certain time is helpful, as is a hunting party rendezvous site and time. However, if your situation is dire, you may need to find a way to speed along the process of acquiring help. How are you to do this? By relying on the many oak trees present in Missouri to lend you a helping hand, or a helping acorn as the case may be.

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    Photo: Ozark Grace

    Oak trees are common in Missouri. These trees produce acorns which fall to the ground and tend to be plentiful and easily found. By taking an acorn and removing the cap, you can create an instant whistle. Simply place your thumbs in a V on the underside of the shell, then bring it to your lips and blow.



    Three blasts on an acorn will create an effect similar to that of a whistle, broadcasting your need for assistance to anyone in your proximity. Since a mere acorn can serve a practical survival need, it might not hurt to toss one in your pocket each time you set out into the woods to give yourself that little bit of additional safety leverage.

    In the absence of an acorn, a plastic bottle cap can be used the same way.

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    Photo: The Risky Kids

    Are there any tactics you practice or suggest to aid in communicating a request for emergency assistance in the woods? Do you have any natural items such as acorns that you use to serve a dual purpose? Let us know in the comments!

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