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How To/Pro-Tips

Simple Survival

If you get lost, keeping your wits is better than any survival kit sold. Of course, a good survival kit is both comforting and useful if you get lost or injured while hunting or fishing, but staying calm is you first challenge and best course. Most people are found within 24 hours, so you don't have to survive for a long time. Resist the urge to blindly strike out, and never run. Don't even walk at night or in a fog. Doing these things usually makes a bad situation worse and greatly increases your chance of injury. Stay where you are unless you are in real and imminent danger (flood, lightning strike, etc.). Go no farther than necessary to be safe. Use your energy to make a shelter and fire. A good survival kit should include items that assist with both. Of utmost importance, always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

Handgun Hunting

Today, handgun hunting for big game, and for white-tailed deer in particular, is a true sport. Some while back it was more of a stunt. Most traditional handgun cartridges simply were not powerful enough to reliably take a deer except at very short range. The .44 magnum changed that, and now with the .41 magnum, ..454 Casull and other powerful handgun cartridges, shots out to 100 yards are not unreasonable. Stretching handgun hunting ranges even farther are the handguns that use bottle-necked rifle cartridges. When chambered for the .243, 6mm, 7-30 Waters, 7mm-08, .30-30, .35 and others, handguns don't give up very much to rifles chambered for the same rounds. However, these highly specialized handguns are usually single-shot, long-barreled and scope-sighted to take advantage of the additional power. Because they have no buttstock, handguns are more difficult to shoot accurately under field conditions than rifles. Considerable practice in field-shooting positions is required to make a prospective handgun hunter proficient.

The Second Chance Rut

If you are fortunate enough to live where the deer season extends into December or January, you can take advantage of the secondary rut. All the adult does and some yearlings that were not impregnated during the primary rutting period come into heat again some 28 days later. This revival of rutting activity may pull some wary, old "survivor" bucks out of hiding. But they won't come out far. Remember, these are the survivors; the ones that took your best shot about a month ago and won. Secondary rut sign is subtle. Suddenly, a few old scrapes are freshened up or a few new ones are made. Just as suddenly, a fresh rub or two show up where you haven't noticed them before. The bucks are on the prowl but are keeping a low profile. The usual rut strategies, involving grunting, rattling and sex scents, are useful but should be used with equal subtlety. Keep your strategy low-key in the second half.

How Far Have I Come

Knowing how far you've gone into the woods is necessary to know how far you have yet to go. It also is a clue to how long it will take to get back. If you know how far something (say your stand site) is and/or how long it will take you to cover some distance denoted on a map, you can plan your travel time well. Judging distance either by sight or by how long you've traveled is not easy and takes some practice. It also takes a watch. Elapsed time of travel can be a rough guide to the actual mileage. A healthy adult can walk about three miles per hour on level ground

Underwear For Your Feet

Wet feet are soon cold feet. Worse yet, wet socks, particularly cotton, promote blisters. Nothing can wreck a happy hunting trip faster than blistered feet. In addition, severely blistered feet can actually cost you the success you had hoped for on a long-anticipated hunting trip. The basic step is to always wear well-fitted and well broken-in boots and change socks regularly. Wool socks don't hold moisture like cotton does and retain 75% of their insulating ability even when wet. Some of the new synthetic-blend boot socks handle moisture almost as well as wool. If you wear rubber boots or pac boots (leather uppers, rubber bottoms), you should wear liner socks. An active foot can sweat a cup of perspiration a day! That water is trapped in a rubber boot. The quick-wicking liner sock pulls it away from your foot and keeps it relatively dry. Add wool outer socks (remember 75% insulation even when wet) for the recipe for warm feet.

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