The Complete Outdoorsman
Skill #23 Stop the bleeding
Almost all external bleeding can be controlled with direct pressure. Have the victim lie down with the injured area elevated above heart level, and apply pressure with the heel of your hand, using a compress or clean cloth over the wound surface. Wait 15 minutes (don’t peek) and then check. When bleeding has stopped, apply a pressure bandage.
Resort to a tourniquet (above) only in a life-threatening emergency, such as a severed femoral artery. Tie a cloth around the limb above the injury, securing the ends with a square knot. Insert a stick in the knot and twist until bleeding stops. Secure the stick with a second cloth or tape. Loosen it every 15 minutes to see if bleeding has stopped.
**Skill #24 Survive a snakebite **
Forget the razor blade and suction cup you carried as a Boy Scout. The best first aid for a snakebite is a set of car keys. Move away from the snake, remove wristwatches or jewelry that could restrict circulation during swelling, keep the bitten limb below heart level, and walk deliberately (don’t run!) to your vehicle. Get to the hospital, as only antivenin administered by a doctor can save a life.
Skill #25 Remove a tick
Grasp the tick near the head with tweezers or fingernails. Exert slow, steady pressure to pull it straight back out. Do not crush the tick, as it will release infectious fluids into your bloodstream.
Skill #26 Remove a fishhook
To remove an embedded fishhook, cut a length of strong monofilament, cord, or fly line and loop it under the bend of the hook. Press down on the eye with one hand, taking the ends of the cord in the other. Remove the hook with a sharp jerk.
Skill #27 Make fire without matches
Matches wet? You may still be able to get a fire going with the contents of your pockets. Remove a bullet by tapping around the neck until the brass expands, or open a shotgun shell and empty the wad and shot. Empty half of the powder onto a tinder pile, cut a patch of cloth from your shirt, fray the edges, and stuff it down onto the remaining charge. Chamber the shell (the patch must be small enough to fit into the bore). Aim against a solid backstop and fire the gun. The half powder charge will push the smoldering cloth out of the barrel. Retrieve the cloth, place it under the tinder, and gently blow the glowing edges to flame.
**Skill #28 Forecast the weather **
Clouds are the most reliable of nature’s forecasters, and the higher the clouds, the better the weather. When clouds combine or darken, or the sky turns milky, it’s time to seek shelter. Swirling winds that turn up the undersides of leaves are a sure indicator trouble is brewing. The old adage, “Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” is based on meteorological truth. Steadily rising campfire smoke foretells a clear day; smoke that beats downward, just the opposite. Animal indicators include crows and ducks, which become noisy before a storm. Geese fly low in bad weather, choosing the densest layer of air to provide lift for their wings. So do many songbirds, because the lower pressure keeps the insects they feed on closer to the ground.
Skill # 29 Build traps and snares
The primitive deadfall trap remains among the most reliable tools for securing emergency food. Prop a heavy rock or log up at one end with a stick so that it is precariously balanced and will fall if an animal tugs at the bait. The figure-four deadfall is one of the more elaborate designs, but very effective.
The bent-branch snare works on the principle of the slip noose, which can be fashioned from wire, cord, or fishing line. Set the snare at the proper height to catch the animal you are after; it helps to narrow the trail at this point to direct the prey into the snare.
** Skilll #30 Keep warm **
The best system for strenuous outdoor activity includes three components: an inner wicking layer that transfers perspiration to outer garments, an insulating outer layer that provides dead air space for warmth, and a shell that defeats wind and keeps rain and snow out while allowing water vapor created by body heat to pass through and evaporate. Choose spun polyester blends like Thermax for the base layer, topped by wool, fleece, or pile for warmth. A parka-length Gore-Tex or other breathable shell tops the outfit.
Skill #31 Survive a storm
Never second-guess a storm by counting seconds between lightning strikes and peals of thunder. If the sky threatens, drop graphite fishing rods and metal objects such as external-frame packs. Seek shelter among bushes or rocks of uniform size. Avoid ridgelines and tall trees. Don’t huddle in a damp depression, which can conduct ground electricity. Squat with your feet together (don’t touch your hands to the ground) or sit on a foam pad. If you are part of a group, split up, but don’t lose eye contact.
** Skill #32 Build a shelter**
Windchill kills. To survive an unexpected night outdoors, get out of the wind in a thicket or seek shelter in a recess under a ledge. Chop a hollow into the massed branches of a fallen tree. If you can find a thickly clad fir tree, wedge yourself up against the lee side of the trunk, breaking off small branches that may be in the way. To create a man-made shelter, drape a tarp over a log or rope with the leeward end raised off the ground. Weight the edges down with rocks or logs.
Skill #33 Immobilize an injured arm
Fashion a sling from triangular-shaped cloth, draping it over the opposite shoulder and underneath the arm. Tie off the corners behind the neck. For fractures, splint the joints above and below the injury. Use any rigid material, such as a rolled-up sleeping pad or a stick. Tie off with bandannas or cloth torn from shirts.
**Skill #34 Heal your feet **
To treat a bad blister, first lance near the edge with a sterilized needle (heat it with the flame of a butane lighter). Coat the blister with Spenco 2nd Skin, a slippery gel-like bandage that acts as a moisture barrier, and cover the 2nd Skin with a strip of athletic tape or moleskin to keep it in place. Prevent blisters by keeping your feet dry, wearing liner socks to reduce friction, and using duct tape to cover “hot spots” as soon as feet become sore.
**Skill #35 Treat hypothermia **
Early tip-offs include shivering and slurred speech. Advanced hypothermia victims get the umbles: They stumble, mumble, fumble, and bumble along. Treat the victim by getting him out of the wind, peeling off damp clothing, and warming him with dry clothes, a campfire, or hot rocks or water bottles placed against the chest. For rapid rewarming, get into a sleeping bag with the victim, chest to chest.
Skill #36 Signal for help
Aid search teams by signaling with blasts from a whistle (save your voice until you know rescuers are near). Flash a mirror, hang a colorful tarp or rain poncho in conspicuous trees, or spell out SOS with rocks or logs in a clearing. Build a smoke fire or shake tall bushes or trees to draw the attention of aircraft. Signaling with rifle shots is best done at night, when the sound can’t be confused with hunting. Remember, a distress signal is three of anything, whether it’s rifle shots or whistle blasts.