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Hunter survival tips offered before major seasons open

HUNTING — With general big-game rifle hunting seasons set to open soon in Idaho and Washington, it's worth your time to review this list of "Hunter Survival Tips" prepared by Idaho Fish and Game. Even veteran hunters need a reminder now and then, and there's no time like now.

Every fall, hunters get lost in the woods, and while most escape no worse than tired, chilled and hungry, the hazards of being turned around shouldn’t be underestimated.

 Hunters should prepare for an unexpected stay in the woods.

  • Don’t rely only on electronics. Items like GPS receivers, cell phones and two-way radios are handy, but dead batteries or other malfunctions render them useless. A map and compass are low tech and less likely to fail, but you also have to know how to use them.
  • Know the area you’re hunting. Always be conscious of your surroundings, prominent points, river or creek drainages, and occasionally turn around and look behind you so you will remember what it looks like when you’re coming back. If you’re on a trail, don’t hesitate to put a temporary marker at intersections. Things can look different on your return, especially if you return in the dark.
  • Let someone at home know where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. Often hunters are out longer than expected, especially when they are pursuing big game animals far from a road. You may want to set an absolute deadline and have someone who can alert the authorities if you haven’t returned, or contacted someone by that time.
  • Ditto for your hunting partner. Hunters often get separated, so set up a rendezvous time and place and decide in advance when a third party will seek help if you or your partners do not return in time.
  • Watch the weather. You’re more likely to get lost or turned around in poor visibility when it’s raining, foggy or snowing, which are also conditions under which you don’t want to be lost in the woods.
  • Avoid cotton clothing. It provides no warmth when wet. Many hunters wear denim jeans, but there are better alternatives. Look for synthetic, breathable fabrics like modern “softshells.” They are more comfortable in nearly all conditions than traditional denim. Old-school wool is also better than cotton, and modern wool is comfortable and excellent insulation.
  • Have a fire-starting kit. Whether matches, lighter or other devices, it should be weatherproof, and it never hurts to have more than one device, as well as tinder or fire starter. Know how to start a fire in all weather conditions.
  • Bring a headlamp and extra batteries. They’re valuable for navigating in early mornings or after dark.
  • If you get lost, warmth, shelter and water should be your priorities. You can go days without food, but you have to stay warm and hydrated. But it’s never a bad idea to carry extra food with you.
  • Dress in layers and be prepared for the worst weather. Temperatures can drop 30 or 40 degrees between day and night in the mountains. The weather can also change quickly during fall, and it’s not uncommon to go from warm and sunny to snowing within hours. A light, packable insulated jacket and a waterproof shell don’t weigh much or take up much space, and they provide good insulation in cold and wet weather. Keep them in a daypack and carry it with you.
  • Survival kits are all the rage these days, but many are overkill. Think about the essentials you would need for an unplanned night in the woods.
  • Have your vehicle ready for the backcountry and prepared for minor breakdowns, such as flat tires or dead batteries.  A separate survival kit for your vehicle is a good idea because space and weight are less of an issue than when items must be carried on your person.
  • If you get lost, admit it to yourself and prepare to spend the night out.  Build a fire for warmth and companionship, and set up a shelter.  Wandering around will make it harder for search and rescue personnel to find you.  It also fuels your anxiety, preventing you from thinking clearly and making safe choices.  This increases the chance that you could become injured or worse.  
  • If you take medication daily for a chronic condition, pack several days’ supply and take it with you.  Tell your hunting partners of your medical condition and where in your pack your medication is located.  This can make the difference between a minor incident and a life-threatening medical emergency. 

Forest Service sets rule for oversnow vehicles

WINTERSPORTS — Just-released news of special interest to backcountry skiers and snowmobilers alike:

The U.S. Forest Service today released the final policy for managing snowmobile and other "over-snow" vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service mangers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use.

Following are details in the agency's announcement:

"The Forest Service always seeks to provide a wide range of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "This policy maintains community input and local decision-making so that those with knowledge of local areas can decide how to best balance natural resource issues with legitimate recreational uses of national forest land."

Many forests and grasslands currently have oversnow designations—more than 40 percent of national forests where snow depths can accommodate over-snow vehicles have guidance consistent with the final policy—and the agency has directed all remaining forest supervisors where the policy applies to make the providing local guidance a priority. The policy maintains the requirement that all designations must be made with public input as well as ensure protection of natural resources, such as water and soils and wildlife, while continuing appropriate recreational opportunities for over-snow and other recreational uses. The court's order ensures that the final policy also provides consistency across all forests and grasslands by requiring designation of areas where over-snow use is allowed.

The policy, scheduled to be published on Wednesday, Jan. 28 in the Federal Register, is formalized in 30 days. The Forest Service reviewed more than 20,000 comments on the proposed guidelines, which were published in June, 2014.

The best-known use of over-snow vehicles is recreation. However, over snow vehicles are also used for other purposes such as gathering firewood and subsistence hunting. Nationally, the U.S. Forest Service manages more than 200,000 miles of roads and 47,000 miles of trails that are open to motor-vehicle use. These roads and trails vary from single-track trails used by motorcycles to roads designed for high-clearance vehicles such as logging trucks.

The final policy will preserve existing decisions governing over-snow vehicle use that were made under previous authorities with public involvement; allow decisions for over-snow vehicle use to be made independently or in conjunction with decisions for other types of motor vehicle use; and local units will create over-snow vehicle use maps separate from use maps for other kinds of motor vehicles.

The mission of the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

Lost snowmobiler lucky to survive mistakes

SURVIVAL — In the span of a week, a snowmobiler near the Montana-Idaho line and another sledder hundreds of miles south in Utah became stuck — and each had to endure two cold nights in the winter wild before being rescued.

Both of them made the critical mistake of riding in the backcountry alone.

Barry Sadler, 54, who lives near Mullan, Idaho, got stuck in a steep drainage just over the state line into Montana on Sunday as he continued riding in heavy snowfall conditions after his buddy went home.

Lawrence Orduno, 48, of Phoenix, got stuck Dec. 27 and in a remote northern Utah canyon after he and a friend were separated while riding near Logan.

Saddler apparently had little more than a space blanket, which he draped over himself as he hugged his engine for its warmth. He started the engine off and on, but ran out of gas and was writing goodbye notes to his kids because he didn't think he'd survive.

Orduno used a cigarette lighter to make a fire and shaped the snow around him into a cave-like shelter, using the side covers from his snowmobile to help protect him from the wind. But he said he started to worry the second night and considered taking more desperate measures, including setting his machine on fire.

Neither man had significant food or water, snowshoes for navigating out of the deep snow or other survival gear.

Both men thanked their rescuers profusely.

"It's so painful to freeze to death," Sadler told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "It's one of the most brutal ways to die…. I was dying a little bit every day, getting colder and weaker."

"He's pretty lucky," said Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander after five of Sadler's buddies found him, helped him get through the second night and led him to safety on Tuesday.

"I chewed him out because he's riding by himself," Alexander said. "He didn't have his survival gear. He didn't have his avalanche beacon on. I also talked him into buying one of those SPOT satellite locators."

The satellite locators can summon help while also providing potential rescuers a location.

National Geographic survival host living ‘rich cultural stew” of adventure

OUTDOOR LIVING — Former Ferris High school science teacher, survival instructor, naturalist and artist Hazen Audel is spotlighting the skills of indigenous people in remote niches of the world for the National Geographic Channel TV series, Survive the Tribe.

My Sunday Outdoors story describes how Audel’s childhood fascination with snakes and spiders put the Spokane native on the path to hunting with bald eagles in Mongolia, dodging stampeding elephants in Kenya, hunting with blowguns in the jungle of Ecuador and learning to spear seals from a kayak in the icy waters of Nunavik.

This photo gallery offers a glimpse of the job Audel calls “a rich cultural stew of outdoor adventure.”

Raise a cold one to youth outdoor education

OUTDOORS — Join the North Idaho folks from Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) and NoLi Brewhouse for the kick-off of a community fund-raiser for youth outdoor education programs. 

The event is set for 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Idaho Pour Authority, 203 Cedar St. in Sandpoint

This fun after-hours event will include great raffle prizes, a seasonal beer line-up from No-Li and the opportunity for to support a great cause!

Ferris teacher stars on National Geographic survival series

SURVIVAL — Survival instructor, wilderness guide and former Ferris High School science teacher Hazen Audel is starring in an innovative series on the National Geographic TV series called Surviving the Tribe.

The program debuted this summer and the shows are available "on demand" if you don't get Comcast Channel 273 or Time Warner 166. Episodes already out indicate the program is going to restore respect to the survival genre that's gone Hollywood loopie with recent series.

Audel, a native of Eastern Washington, travels to some of the world's most remote tribal communities to learn how they have survived for thousands of years in the planet's toughest environments. 

He joins tribes in the rainforests of Ecuador, the Kalahari Desert of Namibia, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, the mountains of western Mongolia, the frozen Arctic of Canada, and in equatorial Kenya to learn firsthand the skills and traditions of these masters of survival. 

Audel already has made an impression in Spokane and beyond, as an artist and naturalist. Audel designed the Montvale Hotel sign and much of the interior metalwork in Steelhead Bar and Grille in downtown.

Spokane Mushroom Club members rubbed elbows with the star in 2008, when Audel joined their annual Priest Lake foray. Audel brought a cameraman for a science documentary to be shown to all high school students in the US.

"It was a very informative and fun film showing all types of nature including animals, plants, mushrooms, birds and more," said Lynda Foreman, the club's leader.

Here's an earlier bio on Audel from his video program roots on his Wild Classroom website.

Hazen received his Bachelors of Science in biology from Western Washington University. He has also studied botany and zoology at Eastern Washington University and Northwest Indian College, and has completed advanced studies in tropical ecology at the University of Hawaii.

Hazen works as an instructor for Outward Bound Outdoor Schools and independently as a visiting speaker. He is a public school educator, concentrating on natural history, rainforest ecology, and biology. Hazen's passion for nature is an integral part of his character. He is a "hands-on" educator.

He has been guiding natural history trips in South America since 1993. He is heavily influenced by indigenous people and has pursued interests in outdoor survival and primitive skills.

In 1998, Hazen traveled to The Malocus and Irian Jaya, Indonesia, one of the most remote places in the world. He carried out independent biology and ethnobotany research which inadvertently tested this survival skills. (Ask him about it!)

Hazen's vision is to carry out adventure education to both young people and adults focusing on awareness, personal growth, earth skills, nature, and conservation. Because of this vision he helped co-found The Wild Classroom in 2003, with fellow scientist and filmmaker Rob Nelson.

Adventurer kills, eats faithful dog in 2-month survival epic

ADVENTURE — Here's a Canadian survival story with an unusual twist that has some animal lovers saying a desperate man made a heartless decision.  

But doctors treating Marco Lavoie after his rescue in the wilderness of northern Quebec say he may not have survived his four-month ordeal had he not killed and eaten his dog.

Some fascinating points to the story:

  • Lavoie, 44, was close to death when a rescue crew found him last week.
  • His canoe and vital supplies were destroyed by a bear at the start of a planned two-month trip in August.
  • Lavoie's German Shepherd may have saved Lavoei's life by chasing away the bear in the initial attack.
  • But three days later, facing the possibility of starvation Lavoie, killed his doting companion with a rock.
  • The first words Lavoie reported spoke to medical staff: 'I want to get a new dog.'

Lavoie had lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia when rescuers found him Wednesday. News reports from Monday indicated he was still in critical condition.

Could you kill your faithful canine companion if you thought it would be the difference between your life and death?

Sign up for Washington women’s fall outdoor weekend clinics

GETTING OUTDOORS — Women age 18 and older can learn the basics of fishing, hunting, and other outdoor skills at a weekend workshop Sept. 13-15 that includes sessions led by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) experts and other certified instructors.

The annual women outdoors workshop at Camp Waskowitz in North Bend, Wash., is coordinated by Washington Outdoor Women (WOW), a non-profit program dedicated to teaching women outdoor skills and natural resource stewardship. WOW, now in its 16th year, is an educational outreach program of the Washington Wildlife Federation.

Participants will choose from 20 different classes taught by 32 instructors on outdoor skills such as archery, freshwater fishing, fly fishing, kayaking, big-game hunting, wild edibles, map and compass reading, wilderness First Aid, survival skills, outdoor photography and more.

Cost: $250, includes lodging, meals and equipment. Participants also must have a Washington recreational fishing license to participate in the fishing and fly-fishing sessions.

Partial scholarships, provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, are available for first-time participants.

Download the registration form.

Contact Director Ronni McGlenn, (425) 455-1986.

Outdoors daughter flexes mussel, eats weeds

FORAGING — Who says college grads can't make a living? 

My daughter, Hillary, is using skills she learned as a camp trip leader and kayak guide to make nutritional ends meet with a little Northwest foraging during a recent outing with her sister in the San Juan Islands. As her recent email reported:

When we went out kayaking, I harvested some mussels and we cooked them up last night in a curry! Brook had an abundance of nettles in her backyard so I picked a bag full and made nettle pesto last night! Here is a picture of my spring bounty. I froze a jar for you and mom. Even though I wore gloves, my fingers still tingled all night last night!

I told her I'm glad she knows how to cook stinging nettles: Better to have tingling fingers than a tingling colon.

She also said she's looking forward to feeding me some bull kelp chutney.

Vehicle emergency kit cheap insurance for winter travelers

WINTER TRAVEL — Slippery roads this week are a reminder that drivers should be prepared for mishaps that might catch stuck, stranded or off the road in winter conditions.

A bag of items stashed in your vehicle could spell the difference between comfort and misery if not — in the worst case scenario — life and death. 

Carry a survival kit in your vehicle.

  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Cellular phone and charger
  • Windshield scraper with snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Extra winter clothes including shoes, hats and gloves
  • Compact shovel
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or  cat litter) and tow strap
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Road map
  • Candles, matches, non-liquid firestarter.
  • Special-needs items vehicle passengers may require.

Broken cell phone still functions as survival tool

SURVIVAL — Although you should never depend on a cell phone to be your ticket safety in an outdoor survival situation, it has obvious benefits  — if the battery isn't dead, if it works, if you have coverage, etc.

But even if you cell phone was dropped and broken, it still has some remarkable potential as a survival tool, as this interesting Daily Infographic illustration details.

One point about the cool suggestion of using the phone's speaker magnet, a leaf and a piece of wire to make a compass:

This situation assumes there is NO WIND or that you can shelter the leaf from any influence by the wind.

Life afloat

How did they survive? It is a miracle. The will to live and the ability to stay calm – and sing – may have helped one young Alaskan fisherman stay alive for 26 hours after his fishing boat capsized and dumped him and his friend into the frigid waters off the Alaskan coast.  

Ryan Harris sang and gave himself pep talks, saying for four hours, “I'm Ryan Hunter Harris and I'm not going to die here.”  

He worried about his friend, Stonie “Mac” Huffman, who managed to find and put on a survival suit that was floating amid the wreckage. Once Huffman “washed” up onto shore, he notified rescuers. Two hours later Harris was found – alive.

 What do you do to cope when the “seas” of your life get rough?

(S-R archives photo: Off the coast of Sitka, Alaska)

Survival classes offered at EWU

OUTDOOR LEARNING – A pair of two-day survival courses, involving a classroom session and a field day, are being offered in July at Eastern Washington University.

The courses, Primitive Survival and Outdoor Survival Skills, each pack a weekend with instruction and practice at building survival shelters, lighting a fire in various conditions, purifying water and traveling using basic navigation techniques.

The courses, which are offered with or without college credic, will be taught by Paul Green, a former Air Force survival instructor and professor of outdoor recreation at EWU.

Registration is due by Friday.

Info: 359-7097

AM: ‘Angry Birds’ Helps Man Survive

David Heatherly holds "Cujo" in West Virginia. Heatherly, who recently was stranded for three days on a snowy mountain road in Montana after his SUV became stuck in the snow, attributed his survival to God, a rationed supply of beef jerky and the video game "Angry Birds" that he played on his cellphone to keep his wits. Story here. (AP Photo/David Heatherly)

EWU outdoor classes focus on leadership, survival

OUTDOOR SKILLS– Whether you’re a church group leader or a solo adventurer, you can benefit from short summer outdoor courses in skills such as rafting and kayaking offered by Eastern Washington University.

Veteran outdoor recreation professor Paul Green is offering two special courses:

Outdoor Leadership, July 30-31:  Covers trip planning, leadership techniques, judgment and decision-making. Students practice skills, such as GPS and searching for missing members during a field trip.

Legal aspects of outdoor leadership also are covered. "The session on 'How to prevent a lawsuit' and the outdoor leader’s four main defenses to a lawsuit are very important elements of this class," Green said.

Primitive Survival, Aug. 6-7:  Classroom and in-field instruction in practical survival techniques for navigation, shelters, fires and much more.

“A lot of survival is making the right decisions and holding it together,” Green said. “We work on that as much as the skills, like making a water filter from sand and make a fire with a knife and a rock, not a flint, a rock.”

Register by July 6: Call EWU Summer Session, 359-4222  or register online.

Stalking the wily legislator…and Brown bears…

-The Olympian’s Adam Wilson has a humorous introduction to the legislature. It’s particularly welcome given the mid-session tenor of the capitol campus right now. (Mid-point: Thursday.)

-And our own Becky Kramer has a long profile of Simon ffitch, with the attorney general’s Public Counsel office. It’s essentially ffitch’s job to try to keep utility rates low. (And yes, that’s the correct spelling of his name, a family tradition dating back to the 1600s. The AG’s office seems unusually blessed with interestingly-named staff, including ffitch and the award-winning Rusty Fallis.)

-At the Seattle P-I, columnist Joel Connelly decries lame “zombie governors” and says that the state Senate “has emerged as the Legislature’s bold chamber.” (Connelly mentions the Senate’s passage of the homeowners’ bill of rights, but you could also add payday lending bills and the Senate’s championing of paid family leave and and a working families’ tax credit.) Writes Connelly…

The Senate is somewhat receptive to challenging the voters: Put a tax increase on the ballot, and explain what education and social programs it would save from the ax.

(Senate Majority Leader Lisa) Brown is a state senator from Spokane. We haven’t had a governor from Eastern Washington since Clarence Martin left office in 1941. Still, Brown bears watching.

He goes on to parse the list of potential gubernatorial candidates in 2012, including Brown and, on the Republican side, Attorney General Rob McKenna. Connelly continues:

Brown, Inslee, McKenna — and maybe Gregoire — look like the prime prospects for 2012. But will all be politically alive after this difficult year?