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Communicating in the Wilderness

TrafficSwarm member since August 2011


When trekking into the wilderness for hunting, fishing, hiking, boating or cycling in all kinds of weather, communication in the wilderness is a matter of survival, as well as convenience.  Communications should begin before even leaving home.  In fact, our first two communications tips do not even require equipment or gadgets. 




"Make sure that somebody knows when you leave, when you expect to return.  Provide as much information about your route as possible and ultimate destination.




Things can happen.  Rocks can fall on your head while hiking.  Boats can tip over while


fishing.  Firearms can malfunction while hunting.  Somebody needs to know that you are late in arriving...and where to send search parties to go hunting for you.  This is also good advice even if you are just driving in inclement weather.




The second tip is really a no-brainer.  Never head into the wilderness alone.  Just as one should never go swimming without a swimming buddy, nor should one go long-distance cycling or hiking, nor hunting, camping or fishing in a remote area without a buddy. 




Here is another report, this one from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation about a fall from a tree stand: "The subject had no communications equipment with him. No phone or radio. If the subject had left word of where he would be and approximate hour of return, a response may have been quicker. Cause of Death: The subject suffered a broken shoulder, multiple broken ribs on one side, a punctured lung, and a punctured spleen."




Assuming you are still conscious, it helps to have some communications equipment while out hunting, fishing or camping.  Of course, there is the ever popular cell phone, which brings instant communications to almost everywhere in the world.  Except maybe your wilderness trek.




But there are many places where cell phone range covers your fishing lake or hunting woods.  The best part about a cell phone is that, even in the wilderness, you can have utterly normal conversations with pretty well anybody, if you want to.  You could always turn it off if you don’t want anyone to call you.




With a cell phone you can even catch up on your email while crouching in your tent or scaling a cliff, with an email to phone service.




A two-way radio is a much surer piece of equipment, because it does not depend on the


cellular phone network to connect.  The downside is that you get to speak to a much narrower range of people: other two-way radio owners.




Before you leave on any outdoors trip, it is wise to check the weather forecast.  But the weather forecast can change quickly, so a cell phone or radio serves another purpose.  Of course, you could just have someone email the weather forecast to you on your cell phone.




Another piece of hunting equipment – keeping a very loud whistle hanging from your neck.  If you are trapped under a tree, pinned down by a boulder, or wrestling a grizzly bear, you might not have the reach or the attention span to dial a number.  If anybody is within earshot, they will come running...if not to help you, at least to capture the scene for some interesting home videos.




Our final tip might seem obvious, but make sure you know where to call.  Have the emergency number taped to the back of the cell phone and make sure you know what frequency to call for help on the two-way radio.  Don’t put in on a sticky note that can get lost or damaged in the weather.




Now you are prepared to go out into the wild and communicate.  Make sure to prepare, to have the right hunting equipment or fishing gear for communicating, and know how to use them in an emergency.  I am sure the animals will not mind a ringing cell phone if you are injured.

Article written by Tom Groves, owner of Outdoor World US,

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