By: Ryan Woythaler
Uh-Oh. There probably isn’t two more uttered words in the English language that have meant the end to more outdoor adventures than those two seemingly innocent syllables. Sometimes it’s as simple as forgetting to pack the ketchup for the burgers during a cookout at the park, sometimes it can be as sinister as wrecking the lower unit of your outboard on a rock, half an hour before sundown on a unfamiliar lake in backwoods Canada. Some things are simply beyond your control, but what is within your power is how well you are prepared to handle anything Mother Nature or Murphy’s Law decides to throw your direction. The Boy Scouts where on to something with their simple two word motto. Be Prepared.
For the first part of this article I am going to address some of the minor preparations that come along with being as ready as you can be for any survival scenario that may arise. It’s important to remember that not all scenarios are as drastic as falling out of a tree stand and breaking bones, more than likely it is going to be along the lines of getting a flat tire on a road in the middle of nowhere and finding that your spare is flat or your jack isn’t there. Hopefully you are just a cell phone call away from getting the assistance you need but some places could mean walking 10 miles or spending the night in the truck.
Carrying the proper supplies in your vehicle or on your person can mean the difference between a minor situation compounding itself into a major one. In a perfect world we would all have a fully stocked paramedic’s bag, a defibrillator, emergency locator beacon, satellite phone, complete tool kit, tent, sleeping bag, and camp stove complete with 5 star meals. But as you know the world is far from perfect and for obvious reasons this isn’t going to happen. This has inspired me to build and keep in my truck what I call my Get Home Bag or GHB. A GHB should consist of things that are deemed to be necessary to getting you home safe but yet easily contained within a small bag that can be stored in your vehicle or carried with you. Every GHB is going to be different based on what your particular situation may be. Where I typically drive and hunt I don’t plan that anything is going to be more than a day’s walk for me to find help and my chances of happening upon a situation where someone else requires my help, like a car accident is likely. So I have based the contents of my bag on those scenarios.
The contents of a GHB do not need to be new and expensive. In fact most of mine were scavenged from leftover outdoor gear that is either no longer used or was replaced with something newer. Unless you are brand new to the outdoors I would venture a guess that you have old gear stashed away in a drawer or closet somewhere that you couldn’t bear to throw out. Time to put that stuff to use! My choice of a bag was and old day hiker shoulder bag and depending on the season a few of the items are changed out like a stocking hat and heavy gloves.