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Hunters should properly prepare
There is not a more unsettling feeling than being lost and disoriented in the woods. Fall is a busy time for Oregon forests, with thousands of hunters venturing out to try and find that elusive trophy buck or elk.
But it is also a busy time for search and rescue squads around the state, who get called out to look for hunters who have lost their way.
But there are plenty of things hunters can do before they leave the house that will help them out should they get lost.
“The very first thing starts before you even go out,” Union County search and rescue coordinator J.B. Brock said. “Tell people where you are going and when you are expected back. That’s the big thing.”
Brock said hunters should tell friends and family exact locations they plan to hunt, not just general areas.
“A lot of times it takes us a while to locate the search area,” Brock said.
By notifying people of the area beforehand, the search process can be much quicker.
But it does no good if you deviate from your original planning and go to a different area. So Brock suggests that hunters follow the game plan.
“Have a plan and stick to the plan,” he said.
Know the area
Another thing hunters can do to reduce the risk of getting lost is to acquire a good map of the hunting area.
“Familiarize yourself with the hunting area before the season starts,” Wallowa County Chief Deputy Fred Steen said.
“Learn to read the map of the area and learn to use a GPS system.”
But even if hunters go to every length to assure they don’t get lost, it can still happen when that trophy bull is in range.
The main thing, according to both Steen and Brock, is to remain calm.
“The big thing about being lost is how if affects you mentally,” Steen said. “You need to have a calm mind. Sit down and work yourself into a situation where you can think clearly.”
Brock said it is also important not to make the situation worse.
“Being lost is an uncomfortable feeling,” Brock said. “Most of the time the best thing to do is just stay put. If you stay put it makes you that much easier to find.”
Brock went on to say that the majority of searches that go awry do so because a lost individual tried to find a way out, only to make matters worse.
It’s also important to prepare for possible conditions. With hot temperatures covering the area the past two months, it is easy to forget that fall is right around the corner and night time in the woods the temperatures cool off dramatically.
“Pack food and warm clothes,” Brock said. “Take a bivy sack with you.”
Both Steen and Brock said that a lost person needs to assess the situation.
“Once you’re lost, react to the situation,” Brock said.
“You should have supplies with you,” Steen added. “You need to fight the mental aspect of being lost. Think about the assets that you have at your disposal.”
Brock agreed that hunting season tends to be the
“When a storm moves in, we get busy really fast,” Brock said.
Steen hopes that this fall will be slower than previous years.
“Hunting season is typically busier for us, but I’m hoping that this year won’t be as busy.”