Turning around.....could save your life.

Discussion in 'How To Hunt Big Game' started by slymule, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. slymule

    slymule Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2003
    With hunting season just around the corner, I thought I'd pass on a little tip my dad taught me many years ago, back when I first started tagging along behind him in the woods.

    I'm 54 years old, never even owned a compass until 8 or 9 years ago, and to this day I've never been lost while out in the woods. I've spent numerous days in all kinds of weather, in many different parts of the country - swamps, flatlands, rolling hills, mountains, and deserts. I've often times taken off either on foot or on a mule and covered many miles in search of new hunting grounds. Sometimes I'm out for only a day, sometimes I may be gone for 4 or 5 days. Most of the time I don't even bother with carrying a map, much less a compass. Not sure how many individuals I've come across in my lifetime, that were turned around and not sure where they were, usually wanting directions on how to find a certain trail or road back to their camp. Hopefully my little tip will help someone out in the future, and its one I think we should teach all of our kids. Its so simple most people probably would never think about it - its called turning around.

    Thats it, no big deal, its not high tech, its not hard, its just common sense. Before heading out turn slowly around, all 360 degrees, and note where you're standing. Pick out landmarks and the lay of the land from where you are currently standing. Notice everything that could be of value, a hill, an old tall dead tree, a creek, an odd shaped boulder up on a hill, the position of the sun - these types of things. Then head out, but don't just head out never looking back from where you just came from. As your walking your constantly viewing new country and your mind will remember what it looks like, but only from the view you get heading in that specific direction. But you also need to turn around often and take a gander at what it looks like from the opposite direction and also off to both sides also. Depending on the terrain and how often it changes, you should be stopping and turning around and allowing the ol' brain to take in the view from the opposite direction. Because if you never do that, five miles down the trail when you decide to turn around and head back for the first time, its not going to look familiar. Make sense?

    Take it from someone who's done this all his life, it works. Please teach this to your kids, and bring it up often to remind them, it very well could save their life someday. I make a game out of it with my two young sons, I'm always taking them out and purposely zig zagging, or cutting circles as we're covering country. Then I'll stop and ask them each to point in the direction the truck or camp is in. When I first started doing this, they didn't pay a whole lot of attention to where "they" were going, and sometimes they'd guess 180 degrees off. After all they were just following dear ol' dad, and surely he knew where he was at. The more we played the game, the better they got at it until now its pretty hard to get them turned around no matter how hard I try and confuse them. I'm not saying don't teach them how to use a compass or a map. What I am saying is teach them how to return to camp when they don't have one, because someday they may not have anything with them besides the gray matter between their ears.
  2. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2005
    Very good advice. My dad/grandad gave me very similar instructions. And to always pay attention to how the ground is sloping, since it should be sloping the other way on you way back out (Colorado type terrain).


  3. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2008
    The info you offered up is right on. I thought everyone did that (haha) I would add something similar to what you said about paying attention to your surroundings and that is don’t necessarily look for things or objects as markers but remember the ones that catch your eye. I have spent weeks knocking around the back country of Idaho and trust me your teepee can get misplaced especially if you hunt late and get caught out in a white out. Taught my kids exactly the things you talk about and they are very confident in the back country no matter what the conditions are.

    Very well said.
  4. bocajnala

    bocajnala Active Member

    Jan 15, 2008
    Great advice! Same thing I do. I don't have kids yet, but I do the "which way to the truck" with my sister and cousin all the time. They are starting to catch on.
  5. ol mike

    ol mike Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2005
    Good stuff Slymule!---thanks..
  6. dogdinger

    dogdinger Writers Guild

    Dec 1, 2007
    hey slymule....you have a note from me on your profile page....and a friend request....
  7. jdmag

    jdmag Member

    Dec 13, 2008
    My dad taught me the same way. I haven't been lost yet either, and I have hunted in alot of different states, with alot of varied terrain.
  8. Capt Academy

    Capt Academy Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2006
    Great advise!
  9. rdsii64

    rdsii64 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2008
    What you say is spot on. However I have spent many days in the field on one military op or another. When I hit the field whether it be work or play I will always have three things; a map, a lensatic compas and a GPS. The compas is if the GPS breaks, batteries die or what ever. Even without the compas terrain association is much easier if you have a map you can orrient to your direction of travel.
  10. benlow

    benlow Active Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    That is very good advice. I do that all the time. I did get lost one time and spent the night in the woods. I thought I was going to die. I was cat hunting alone and my dogs got on a bad bear. It was not bear season and I bailed off in canyon about 4:00 in the afternoon in a t-shirt and blue jeans. Temp about 60 degrees; all I took with me was my leashes. The bear and dogs kept going and so did I. It got dark and I kept walking after my dogs in the dark. I was counting ridge tops in the moon light for a reference as to where my pickup was. A storm blew in and it stared snowing. Anyways to make a long story short I caught my dogs were they had the bear bayed on rock face. I tried to count ridge tops on the way back but it is cloudy now and snowing. I knew I was in bad trouble when I climbed the ridge my Pickup was supposed to be on in my mind and there was no road at the top. I spent the night there under a tree with low branches and used my dogs as blankets to keep from freezing to death.
    I am going to shorten this considerably. I spotted my truck windshield shining from a High Point on a ridge and walked down and up. I was Stupid then. I never leave on a walk like that now without a backpack full of things I may or may not need. It was one of those you had to be there deals. I am lucky to be alive. My advice to every one is take more than you think you will need.
  11. efw

    efw Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    Great advice I do the same, though I wasn't taught that just picked it up somewhere along the way.

    I will say this, however... even if you do always look around as you ought, be sure to bring a compass and whistle with you and train your kids to do the same.

    If you do all of the above you're virtually guaranteed never to have to lean upon failing technology (batteries in GPS units pick the darndest times to fail, I'm sure!) and you'll always have your butt covered if something does go wrong.

    Lets face it... looking around like that makes the experience of getting out a lot more enjoyable, too. I go out w/ some people and they're so focused upon their plan to "get results" that it seems more like work than an enjoyable passtime. I love being outside just for its own sake, and looking around makes it even more pleasureable!

    Thanks for the reminder!
  12. rdsii64

    rdsii64 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2008
    I have had gps batteries die on me more than once. When that happens ( and it will) the good old fashion lensatic compass and a map will get me where I need to be.
  13. crazy_fool1

    crazy_fool1 New Member

    Jul 16, 2009

    I have personally never really done the turn around thing but i sure will if i can remember next time im out... I'm gonna share a story where the only thing that got me home was my instincts and paying attention to how the land laid out for me.
    Unfortunatly I was never tought much about finding my way home... only to follow "dear ol dad" around since he knows well enough what he's doing but one time when i was young 14 or 15 and new to hunting, I figured id try out my tracker skills and leave dad with the horses so they wont spook the deer i was after. (this was also the day i learned im not near sneaky enough to catch up to anything) I never found the deer i saw but followed lots of tracks up and down draws over fences and ridges and got myself all kinds of turned around with my survival pack back on the horse...
    Not a good situation... The weatherman had also called for warm nice weather(5 celcius) so i was in a light sweater and windbreaker camo and was wearing my light hiking boots. The weatherguy was wrong. it snowed all morning and afternoon and since it was hot out. it all was wet sticky snow it soaked my clothes shoes and every part of me down to the bone.
    By the time i gave up on my deer and turned around to expect dad and the horses i was thoroughly lost and walked 5 ridges away from camp. I had no idea where they were and remembered i had cut some fences which they would not be able to follow. So I backtracked for a while... climbed to nice vantage points but could not see anything that looked familiar at all... this being my first time on this area we have since frequented. Well I know which way id hiked to get there but didnt take note of much as i had hiked into that predicament and am since soaked to the bone and temps falling to about -10 celcius and colder as it because darker.
    I decided to keep hiking the direction i thought we had come but after hiking over 4 big ridges I still didnt see camp and gave up on that direction ( little did i know it was just one ridge further to our camp ) about that time i rememebred the drive to camp the day before and the road ran parallel with a 20 ft wide stream. I knew this stream was downhill from me and I knew which direction that was so i headed for that thinking ill just get to the road and hitch a ride since i knew the camps name where we were staying.
    Downhill i go, slipping and falling on the fresh slushy snow, overexhausted... dehydrated, depressed, and scared, i finally care to the stream. Great I knew the road was just 200 yards past it. Except now i had to figure out how i was going to cross... it was only 2-3 feet deep but no beaver dams or crossings were in sight so I considered two options... walk across in my schoes and get completely soaked with freezing water and hope that i find my ride home before i get frostbite or take off my boots and walk across barefoot and then put on my dry clothes after. Not real excited about either option but if i had to pick it would have been option B but i decided to keep walking the bank and see what i could find.
    Well I came across a little waterfall about 6 ft high and overtop of it was 4 or 5 fallen trees about 1.5 - 2 inches thick. I figured if i could spread out my weight they would hold me and wandered out on all fours to cross. it wasnt too bad except when my gun slipped off my shoulder and my wrist caught the sling on its way down which momentarily threw me off balence. but i regained what composure i had left and moved on. making it to the otherside finally I moved to the road and could hear splashing in the water like perhaps horses crossing so i shouted out for help and heard startled splashing... again i called out but heard only intermittent splashing... I figure now this was some moose or deer wandering through that i had spooked, but it kind of spooked me too... Being young with a creative mind and hearing lots of stories of cougar bear and wolves in our area recently, i was not sticking around to see what this animal was after dark.
    I could see the road now and as i walked throught he feet of wet snow I saw the most beautiful thing id seen all day, the headlights of an oncoming vehicle barreling down the road. The only problem was I was still 50 yards into the trees so i ran as fast as i could hopping deadfall so i wouldnt miss my ride but in the last 5 feet of it i tripped and fell face first into the snowy ground, rifle smacking me square in the back of the head(Icing on the cake). I heard the tires of my rescuer drive on by and jumped to my sore and swollen feet to run onto the road and yell and try to flag down the stranger but it was too late. I knew it was not a popular road so it really crushed my energy although i knew the road led to my camp so i started walking one way... saw a cattleguard that i thought about and could not remember driving by on the way so i turned around and walked about a mile or 2 the other direction before I came upon another car of two hunters who thankfully knew where my camp was after i told them the name and we proceeded to drive back the way i had just walked the past hour or so and just past the cattleguard i didnt remember about a half mile down the road was my camp. And I was filled with such a huge relief.
    Two times i should have kept following my instincts but because I did not make a mental note of very obvious landmarks I had made things alot worse for myself... Although I had enough to make it home thankfully.
    My dear ol dad however did not come back to camp for another 4 hours, which meant alot to me for the fact that he was not going to give up on me. Turns out he was on my tracks for a long time and as i figured the fences that i crossed screwed up his path alot, also so did another hunter who dad tracked for a while too until he saw it wasnt me in the boots making the tracks... He told me of all the toughts running through his head and joked that he knew if he did not find me that he might as well never go home because my mom would surely kill him. I had also done the breakfast dishes since I figured my dad would be so angry with me that it might soften the blow. lol He and i had some very long talks following my little adventure and most importantly I gained alot of knowledge and experience in making sure to prevent anything like this happening ever again. Also we carry radios now with our survival packs on us at all times.

    I have since gone out on several search and rescue missions for stranded hunter friends of ours (horse got away, injuries) and even another lost child in an area I had never been too but I paid much more attention to the land around me, how many ridges back to the truck, the direction home due to the lay of the land and which direction the ridges flow in if that makes any sense. I still dont use GPS, maps or compasses because I have trained my eye to read the land.

    Well i didnt mean for this to be so longwinded but hopefully some of you enjoyed the read.
  14. JoeyBishop

    JoeyBishop New Member

    Aug 29, 2009
    hey thanks for suggestion.it's really nice...:)