Inherent risks come with hunting. You’re often far from help, in unfamiliar terrain, and alone. Basic survival skills and equipment are essential.
Routt County Search and Rescue team member Darrel Levingston has seen all the mistakes, from not monitoring the weather to getting lost. His advice: Utilize modern technology. Cell phones and GPSs help your orientation and rescuers. But don’t rely on them. “Technology has changed search and rescue, but electronics have limitations,” he says. “Always take a map and compass.”
Add other survival gear as well. “Also bring a basic survival kit — even if it’s just a first-aid kit, matches, water and flashlight,” advises Brett Mason of Routt County’s Longshot Ranch. It should also include emergency poncho and blanket, whistle, extra knife, fire-starter and signal mirror.
Staying hydrated is also important. “You can go a night or two without food, but not without water,” he says.
Next comes preparing for weather. Scott Brennise of Craig’s Superior Guide Service recommends bringing layers of dry clothing. “The weather can go from 60 to zero quickly,” he says, adding that you need clothing for all four seasons. “Bring Gore-Tex tops and bottoms, a good jacket and two sets of boots.” Kevin Rider, owner of Rifle’s Timberline Sporting Goods, advises bringing rain gear in the earlier hunting months, and winter layers in the later seasons.
Also tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. “Western Colorado is a big place to look for someone,” Levingston says. “Communicating your whereabouts can cut down search time tremendously.”