By Wireshots Team / Featured NewsFirearm News / / 0 Comments

Now that hunting season is fast approaching, you’ll notice hunters across the nation scrambling to get their gear together before opening day. It doesn’t matter about weaponry or game; for many, hunting season is as much about family, friends and spending some quality time with Mother Nature than it is about harvesting the animal!

It makes sense many hunters stress over the preparation process for such a big trip, so we decided to help out by putting together a guide that covers everything from picking your hunt to what you’ll need to remember before walking out the front door (hint: license and tags.)

Choose Your Destination

The No. 1 thing you must nail when planning your hunt is the destination. Where do you plan to hunt? Better yet, what game will you be hunting? If you’re new to the sport, a great way to find new places to hunt is to socialize. Visit your local sports store or gun/archery shop and talk up the employees there. If you want to hunt somewhere local, you can easily find a set of state regulations at most sport stores. And if you’re planning an out-of-state trip, use online forums and community boards to find good units to hunt.

Keep in mind, if the location of your hunt is far from home, it would be wise to prepare your vehicle, too. Change the oil, rotate your tires, check your fluid levels, and make sure your tail lights are working. The list can go on and on, but, in short, you want to be prepared. Since you’ll most likely be driving down a dirt road or two, it would be wise to make sure you have reliable, all-season tires that offer excellent safety ratings.

Packing for the Hunt

If you live by the phrase, “Proper planning prevents piss-poor performance,” then you probably have a pretty decent routine to prepare for your hunting trip. But if you feel a little helpless and don’t know where to begin, we’re here to help. Once you know where you’ll be hunting, make it a habit to buy appropriate state licenses and tags right away, as well as find out exactly where you plan to set up camp.

Guided hunts can be fun because someone else is in control, allowing you to sit back and not worry about much. However, DIY hunts provide elements of independence and autonomy that will help you create lasting memories year after year. If you plan to camp for any length of time, you’ll want to make sure you have access to a shower. Fortunately, many state parks and lakes offer coin-operated shower areas.

Another priceless piece of preparation is to locate a freezer in which you can hang your prize animal if you fill your tag before the rest of your hunting party, or if it’s hot and you still need to take down camp before heading home.

Setting Up Camp

If you think your desire for hunting will continue to last — news flash: it most certainly will — then we advise purchasing a wall tent. It feels more like a small home than a tent in the woods, and with just a few simple additions (cots, tables, chairs, wood stove), you won’t even realize you left the comfort of home. The interior of the tent can get messy with the continuous stream of muddy boots, so put down heavy, waterproof flooring and a mat in front of the door to cut down on dirt.

If you’re bringing along a generator, you won’t want to forget gas. The same goes for off-road vehicles, if you’re bringing any. If you’re archery hunting, make sure you toss in a few targets so you can shoot out of camp. The kitchen area is vital for a successful hunt. Check and double check your shopping list to make sure you have all the food you might possibly need. If you plan to hunt way out in the sticks, you may not be able to easily get to a store, and it’s best to avoid this hassle altogether. A set of cooking/kitchenware can be bought at almost all sporting good stores, but you can save cash and make one from the stock you already have at home.

Lastly, before you pull out of the driveway, make sure you have your tags, license and weapon of choice packed and ready to go. Check the tail lights if you have a trailer in tow and hit the road with gusto, because opening day is just around the corner.

By Wireshots Team / Featured NewsOutdoor News / / 0 Comments

The fastest way to turn a hunting trip into a chore is to come unprepared. Whether you’re a hard-working bachelor or dad in serious need of some quiet time, you know how tough it is to get away, so make sure you get the most out of your time. Plan ahead and make sure you don’t leave out these essential, yet all too often overlooked, items:

1. First Aid

Blood clotting powder, emergency blanket, poncho, iodine tablets and bandages all make sure you are ready for the unthinkable. While it’s not likely that something will happen (not everything is like “Naked and Afraid” and “Dual Survival”), it’s better to be prepared. Bring extra first aid and survival gear to ensure you won’t end up having to come home early, injured and empty handed.

2. Sleeping Pad

You want to enjoy your trip just as much as you want to bring home a trophy. Just because you’re out in the great wide open all alone doesn’t mean you have to rough it. In fact, investing in a few luxuries can make all the difference. A supportive sleeping pad is the way to go if you’re staying overnight. The newest versions are lightweight, self-inflating and insulated. This way you’ll be warm and comfy after a long day in the wilderness.

3. Baby Wipes

Yes, baby wipes. These let you clean up and feel like a million bucks for the rest of the day. They are especially useful if there’s not a port-a-potty around for miles.

4. Sunglasses

Make sure you bring sunglasses even if the weather calls for cloudy skies or storms. Even an overcast sky can deliver powerful rays and exhaust your eyes after a long day of tracking. This can greatly effect your accuracy. Invest in a good pair that are comfortable enough to wear all day, have UVA and UVB blocking, and are polarized.

5. Smartphone Apps

Smartphone apps can increase your success rates no matter what you’re hunting, from white tail deer to largemouth bass. Some useful apps include weather prediction, location specific camo guides, knot tying tutorials and recommendations for choosing the right bait for the stream you’re fishing. But remember, you won’t be able to use map or location services unless you invest in a personal hotspot, which still may only give you spotty service. Download maps, videos and tutorials ahead of time or take screenshots of important info you may not be able to access in the bush.

6. Walkie-Talkies

Speaking of spotty Wi-Fi, you need to be able to communicate with your hunting buddies or call for help. Beartooth Radio, for example, is a smartphone case that turns your cellphone into a walkie-talkie, even if you don’t have service. It can call within a 5-mile radius and text within a 10-mile radius. So whether you want to check on others in your group or you need to call for help, this gadget is a good investment.

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Going hunting is one of the best ways to leave the technological world behind and get back to nature, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave all your technology at home. A hunting trip might be just the respite you need from Netflix, your flat-screen and your laptop, but bringing your phone and a few accessories with you on the hunt can make your trip less stressful and increase your success rate of bringing home something for the freezer. Here’s your guide to some clever gear for your phone for your next hunting trip.

The Case for a Serious Phone Case

If you’re going to be using your phone on the hunt, it’s time to get serious about your case. Remember, just because a case feels heavy duty or is covered in camo, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your personal needs.

Are you often hunting in rainy weather? Many bow and rifle experts are huge proponents of hunting in the rain and for good reason. There are fewer hunters willing to brave inclement weather, and big bucks are driven to move during daylight storms. And while a downpour will have most whitetail hunkered down, they are much more likely to move before and after a big storm.

A waterproof case is a great investment, but the operative word here is investment. While knockoffs are available online for anywhere from $5 to $30, the quality and the warranty comes with a heftier price tag. Otterbox, Pelican and Lifeproof brands offer shock- and rain-resistant options that are under $100. All offer cases in a variety of colors to match the terrain, as well as some pretty cool camo options.

Recording and Connecting

Whether you belong to an online hunting community, have a Facebook hunting group or like flying solo, consider making a video the next time you’re on the hunt.

It’s easier to do than ever before, and it’s amazing the uses you can find for these video recordings. They’re a great way to study your technique, teach young hunters about safety, remember landmarks and honey pots and, of course, maintain your bragging rights. And no, you don’t have to wear a helmet and a GoPro and put up with shaky footage.

The new LG V10 cell phone’s Steady Record feature stabilizes your video and allows you to capture all the action. And the AM-Sportsman action mount fits all cellphones and allows you to mount your smartphone to your rifle, compound bow or fishing pole.

Apps to Help Your Hunt

Some apps are helpful during the hunt and some are helpful while preparing, but they’re all reasonably priced and worth checking out. For example, Hunt Predictor has received rave reviews, and its detailed five-day forecast predicts the movement of deer, turkey and waterfowl. It also keeps track of your friends’ location during the hunt.

The HeyTell app is another great tool to have in the field or in case of an emergency. It basically turns your phone into a walkie-talkie. You don’t even have to sign up for an account to communicate.

Remember that using apps and taking videos will drain your battery. Be sure to invest in an external charger so you don’t have to worry about conserving battery life.

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For any parent, your children’s safety comes first in the case of a crisis or emergency. That’s why, in cases of disaster, it’s imperative to have the essential items for survival like an effective emergency survival bag that includes items for safety, recreation and sustenance. After making sure you have everything you need, prepare a smaller bag for your child.

Although you might have packed everything necessary for survival for the entire family, providing your child with their very own “bug-out bag” can instill a sense of tranquility in a crisis. Depending on your child’s age, you can place various items in the bag, but be sure to also include a source of comfort, no matter the age. In an emergency, comfort items and foods can do a lot to alleviate stress and anxiety.

If you’re not sure what specific items to include, get your child involved and ask them what kind of food, games and comfort items they would want when disaster strikes. This will give them the chance to communicate with you their concerns about such an emergency and will help them be better prepared. Here are some items to include in your child’s bug-out bag.

Safety and Basics

First, choose an emergency survival bag that fits your child well. Keep in mind, depending on your child’s age, they probably won’t be able to carry as heavy a load as you. If their bag is too heavy or bulky, it may be cumbersome for them to carry and slow them down in cases where they must quickly run away.

Include a first-aid kit and teach your child how to properly use the items inside. The more familiar they become with those items, the better they will be able to use them in case of a minor cut or even a more serious injury. In addition to a first-aid kit, include a surgical mask to protect them from breathing in airborne bacteria and viruses, as well as a(n):

  • Flashlight
  • Emergency whistle
  • Pre-paid cell phone
  • Jacket
  • Blanket
  • Underwear/socks
  • Hat or beanie
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Toilet paper.

Again, talk to your kids about each item in their bag and discuss the types of situations in which they would need to use them.

Sustenance

Food is crucial in an emergency situation, and while you’ll probably be the one carrying most of the food, it’s important to equip your child with some food as well in case they ever get separated from you. Be sure to include high-energy foods, like granola bars, canned tuna or chicken, a small jar of peanut butter and a small bottle of honey.

Prepare your child by including water purification tablets and a water canteen. Also include hard candy and gum, so they have a small treat on hand. You know your child best, so include a few of their favorite snacks. Having familiar foods during an emergency can calm your child’s nerves and provide comfort.

Recreation

While food can be a source of comfort for your child, it’s likely they’ll find themselves bored after some time has passed and the urgency of the situation has settled down. That’s why it’s smart to prepare a few recreational items, like games, coloring books with crayons, a ball, deck of cards, puzzles, or a stuffed animal. These items will keep your child occupied and out of trouble. Modify the aforementioned list to your child’s age.

Last Reminders

Remember, rotate your supply of food and water every six months to keep your supply fresh. Make sure any clothes you include still fit your child comfortably. Use your best judgement and allow older children to carry a pocket knife or any fire-starting tools. Of course, talk through how to use these items beforehand.

If this emergency survival bag is for an infant, you should prepare a separate diaper bag to carry. And, if you are the type of parent wanting to feel prepared for an emergency, take your family on a hike and camp out with the survival bags to become more familiar with each item and determine what might be missing.

By Wireshots Team / Featured NewsOutdoor News / / 0 Comments

shutterstock_384222676For the avid outdoors enthusiast, the summer season means one thing — a hunting trip. A tradition as old as time, people have looked forward to this magical time when they could head off into the woods with their friends and tune out all of life’s daily responsibilities. Though part of the fun is leaving behind distractions, here are 10 items you need to remember to bring with you.

1. Cellphone

Though the point of your trip is to relax and unwind away from all of the distractions that tether you to the daily grind, you’re not a savage. The baseball season stops for no one, so your cellphone lets you check scores while you are away, and you can also load it up with helpful apps like a compass, range finder, radio and GPS. So, if you happen to get injured you can call for help, and, if needed, a pizza delivery.

2. Zipper Bags

Sealing baggies have 101 uses, but on a hunting trip they are particularly helpful. For example, you can store scent lures separate from your other belongings, so your favorite sweatshirt doesn’t end up smelling like elk urine.

3. Wet Wipes

Also providing multiple uses, the convenient and disposable wet wipe will serve you well after dinner, after a messy field dressing and after nature calls when you are in the middle of the woods. Wet wipes are more durable and sanitary than standard toilet paper, so they are perfect for your trip.

4. Tools

One goal when packing for a weekend hunting trip is to pack light, so a single item with multiple applications is ideal. For this reason, the tried and true Swiss Army Knife is invaluable. There are so many versions of this baby that you can find one that serves all of your needs. However, you may want to carry a separate hunting knife or a small wood saw or ax.

5. First-Aid Kit

If you have not had to break into yours yet, you will. Carry one with you if for no other reason than to account for Murphy’s Law.

6. Sunglasses

The sun will get to you after awhile. Don’t leave home without a pair of sunglasses and extra lenses, since you will be spending the majority of your time outdoors, sitting, standing and waiting in the sun.

7. Food & Drink

Hunters tend to have mixed feelings about carrying water into the woods. There will always be that one friend who refuses and boasts about his ability to head off into the dark with nothing more than a weapon in hand and a license. This is also the person who refuses to eat anything while on the trail and thinks doing a few squats every few hours will keep him warm in the chilly night air.

Ignore him.

There’s nothing wrong with packing a few energy bars for the hike. Even though you don’t want to lug around a gallon of water and have to pee every 45 minutes, you also don’t want to get lost in the woods without it. A canteen or water bottle is fine. And when you return to base camp, nothing beats a cold brew, either as a congratulatory toast to a successful hunt or as a consolation prize for your empty hands.

8. Fire-Starters

Your trusty Zippo is great to have on you, but a few additions to your fire-starter kit will save you a massive headache when it comes time to kindle. Bringing waterproof matches, a metal match, Vaseline-coated cotton balls for tinder and a plumber’s candle along with you will ensure that starting a fire will be a snap.

9. Spare Release

Here’s one for bow hunters in particular. If you know the sense of dread and disappointment that washes over you when you take aim on an approaching deer and then hear that god-awful clinking sound that your release makes as it hits the tree stand on its way down, then you know the importance of having a spare release on your person before making your climb up that tree. Check and recheck your pocket or vest to verify.

10. Silk Scarf

Men have been wearing scarves for hundreds of years, so get past your senseless aversion. The cowboys of the Wild West understood that wrapping your neck in a silk scarf protects it from the dreaded neck chafing that comes with wearing a wool shirt. It also can be used to block cold drafts from your skin or as a sling if you’re in a pinch. You can question the manliness of wearing a scarf all you want, but you cannot deny its applicability.

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Whether it be a grid crash, natural disaster or external attack, it is never too early to begin preparing for the worst. Everyone has a theory on the most likely cause of a widespread blackout, and the plans for coping with one are as diverse as the possible causes. Some like to keep it simple, planning to revert to the hunter-gatherer days if disaster strikes. Others plan to go full-on Tony Stark with high-tech gadgets and equipment for survival. But as it is with many of life’s challenges, sometimes the middle of the road may be the safest place to be.

Whether you are prepping for a temporary power outage or full-on apocalypse, this list of high- and low-tech items to have on hand when the lights go out has something for everyone.

Low-Tech Items

Most low-tech proponents cry “Electromagnetic Pulse” (EMP), a phenomenon that has the potential to zap all tech containing microprocessors, including computers, cellphones and vehicles. While no one can be certain that when disaster strikes it will be of the nuclear variety or due to solar flares, but both have a high EMP probability. So, let’s begin with a few low-tech items on the list.

  • Your own eyes. Forget fancy GPS and radio systems that are vulnerable to EMP and likely to glitch without an incredible pulse. Learning how to read your environment is about as low-tech as you can get. A savvy prepper should know how to interpret the weather and sky for advanced warning of potential Mother Nature threats. Clouds are of particular importance in identifying a threat, with the general rule being that tall clouds mean bad weather. If you observe clouds stacking upward instead of across, you are in for a thunderstorm or possibly a tornado.
  • Solar garden lights. These low-tech, inexpensive and practical ornaments have a dozen different uses. Where you need light, these easy-to-transport solar torches will abide. Keep them outside during the day to charge and store solar power, then use them at night to light up dark, exterior walkways or bring them inside at night to be used as flashlights or placed in large jars or vases to use as stationary room lighting.

High-Tech Items

Assuming the disaster does not wipe out all communication and technology or that the outage is discerned to be short-term, here a few items to add to your high-tech want list:

  • A reliable vehicle should be a staple in your prepping plan. Depending on the circumstances, it could be used as a temporary shelter and storage, or if the streets are still relatively clear, it could be your getaway transport. Your driving capabilities could also serve you well in a disaster situation. But if you’re lacking driving skills, it could be a hindrance. What good is a fast getaway car if it’s an automatic transmission and you never learned to drive stick? Possessing know-how and defensive driving skills is of paramount importance.
  • An ultraviolet, handheld water purifier. The SteriPEN quickly purifies water, making it safe for consumption. This handheld device uses UV light to destroy about 99.9 percent of protozoa, virus and bacteria from a water source. Depending on the kind of disaster you are prepping for, you have your choice between a model that runs on lithium batteries or requires a USB cable.
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How to Hunt in the Remote Backcountry

Backcountry hunting takes a a huntsman far from the beaten path and deep into the unexplored corners and shadows of the wilderness. The pros of going back country is the excitement and promise of bigger, wild game but the cons include that it is time consuming and dangerous. Backcountry hunting requires a pioneer spirit and and proper preparation, but if you have a clear idea of what to expect, and follow a few safety tips, it can be the best hunting experience you’ll ever have.

Emergency Communication

Considering how far from civilization you’ll be, and how dangerous the backcountry often is, it is a good idea to have a satellite phone handy while hunting there. Though you yourself may be a skilled hunter and confident in your competency, you are still traveling through uninhabited terrain, which is completely unpredictable. If you fall and break your ankle, the paramedics are likely hundreds of miles away.

Pack

Try to pack light. Experienced backcountry hunters have managed with packs weighing less than 40 pounds total. You can find tents that weigh about two pounds, a sleeping bag that is around the same weight though if you’re hunting in the cooler season, be sure it’s a down bag, and you can find a sleeping pad that weighs only about 12 ounces. The bulk of your weight is going to come from your weaponry. This is where bow hunters have a distinct advantage over gun hunters. You’ll also want to bring a camping stove, clothes for layering, food, water, and some kind of optic for spotting. And don’t forget the first aid kit.

Hunting Grounds

Decide where you want to hunt in advance and research the history of the area, locate maps, and check the weather. You will need to determine what approach you plan to use once there. You have two choices. Do you want to base camp hunt or bivy hunt and spike camp? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. A base camp means you’ll be hitting the same population of wildlife during your stay. Bivy hunting means you’ll be up and moving and tracking different populations, but requires setting up camp nightly and requires a terrain that is easy to hike.

Smart Safety

In addition to the satellite phone and topography maps, bring a compass. Even if you have GPS, bring a separate compass, because if something goes wrong and all else fails, at least you can head in the right direction. If you are hunting in a region where bears are prominent, remember to hoist your food high into a tree at night somewhere away from where you plan to sleep, and pack bear spray and a whistle. Lastly, beware of rain. Have a plastic sheet handy to cover your gear, and if you’re in a storm, head to low ground—never camp near tall trees or high ravines.

Hunting in the backcountry is an exhilarating activity, but you must be conscious of the dangers that could befall you at anytime. Know your hunting ground, pack lightly and smartly, and bring a method of communicating with civilization in the event of an emergency. With the proper research and preparation, you can enjoy the peace and satisfaction that comes with choosing the road less traveled.

You love taking your dog out with you and he increases the success rate of your hunting goals; however, there are some unplanned factors that may disturb your hunting experience when he’s with you, regardless of his impeccable training. Before you go out on your next hunt, make sure your dog is set up with the right tools, so you can have peace of mind while you’re out in the wilderness.

PetSafe Wireless Containment System

This pet containment system is portable and can be set up in one to two hours for dogs eight pounds and up. The system sets perimeters for your dog, so he can’t wander too far from your desired location. His collar reminds him with a tone or static correction if he breaches the pre-set barrier. The system can cover a circular area up to a half acre, but if your hunt covers a vast area, you can expand the containment size with additional wireless transmitters. This is a useful tool when you are in the early stages of training your hunting dog because he can easily learn to not wander too far when you’re out in the wild.

Garmin’s Astro

The Garmin Astro system lets you track your dog’s location in the roughest and most remote terrain with its high-sensitivity GPS antenna and GLONASS positioning system. The GPS system can track up to nine miles away and send you the precise location of your hunting hound every five seconds. The device can track up to 10 dogs, and the collars are equipped with LED beacon lights for low-light visibility within 100 yards. The handheld device and collar are manufactured to withstand the rugged outdoors and harsh weather conditions, seeing as the device has a waterproof rating of IPX7 and the collar is rated at 1ATM.

FitBark

FitBark is an app for your smartphone that monitors your dog’s everyday activity. It helps you keep your dog healthy and in good shape, and it analyzes and explains your dog’s behavior. The more you understand about your dog, the better you can train him to be the ultimate hunting companion. Make sure you have a smartphone that has a long-lasting battery, so you can use the app while on your hunting expedition. The iPhone 6s Plus has up to 24 hours of talk time and up to 16 days of standby time, so it’s the perfect technological companion for when you’re on extended camping and hunting trips.

GoPro Fetch

GoPro Fetch is a dog harness that enables you to mount your GoPro camera to your dog. The camera can then capture your hunting adventure from your dog’s point of view. The camera can attach at two separate mounting locations at either the chest or the back of your dog. The harness is made of water-friendly material and most GoPros come in waterproof housing, so your dog can swim and get dirty without harming your equipment. The harness is also padded for your dog’s comfort, and it fits dogs from 15 pounds to 120 pounds.

Going to the field for a week or three? Quality gear is essential — your life depends on it. While good equipment isn’t cheap, an investment in the following gear will improve your outdoor experience while keeping you safe and comfortable.

OAF-96 Backpack

You need a high-speed bag if you are going to carry high-speed gear. The OAF-96 was built for people who are serious about what they do — hunters, survivalists, military contractors, etc. Designed and field-tested by combat veterans from the U.S. Special Operations community, this American-made bag comes with all the bells and whistles you need to remain offline for an extended period of time.

The bag boasts the following features, which differentiates it from the typical hiking bag: two side pockets for 100 oz. water reservoirs, a laptop compartment, cut-to-fit RF welded antenna ports built to accommodate various sized VHF/UHF/HF/SATCOM antennas, a detachable waistband that is similar to a repel seat and the strongest silent pull zippers on the market. Remember, you can’t afford to have your gear fail.

Bonus: OAF is owned and operated by a group of young veterans.

Satellite Phone

Think your iPhone is going to get coverage in the middle of the boonies? Think again. Sat phones, which once cost an arm and a leg to operate, are now affordable enough that anyone can (and should) carry one into the field. There really isn’t any excuse to not have a sat phone on an extended trip into the backcountry as this communication tool could a save your life and will allow you to keep your family and friends updated on your whereabouts and condition.

Like any other phone, prices and plans vary. Subscriptions, rentals and prepaid phones are available. Iridium Communications is a great place to start your search as they carry a large selection of sat phones and satellite access points.

ATN PVS7-3 Generation III Night Vision Goggles

You’ll be ready to conquer the dark (up to 225 yards of it) with a pair of ATN PVS7-3 Generation III night-vision goggles, which are identical to the AN/PVS-7 NVGs U.S. troops use in combat. Features include a sacrificial filter for objective lenses, additional mounts and a run time of 10 to 20 hours on two AA batteries. They are also waterproof to 39 inches for 30 minutes.

AquaLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

From March 1995 to July 2003, the U.S. Government only authorized PLB use in Alaska. It was a test period to gauge the effectiveness and capabilities of the technology. The program saved about 400 lives and there were very few false calls, proving to the government they were worth allowing in the rest of the U.S. Now, you can get them at just about any retailer that sells outdoor gear. While there are several models and manufacturers to choose from, a model like the AquaLink PLB is a solid choice as it is waterproof. It also floats, making it a great piece of gear for your boat, too.

How does it work? The AquaLink PLB should only be used as a last resort since once it is activated it will fix your position within 100 meters and then relay a distress call, via satellite, to the nearest search and rescue unit. Each owner is assigned a personal ID so that rescuers will know whom they are searching for. Features include: a powerful 406 MHz signal to relay your signal and a separate homing signal and integrated LED strobe light that will guide rescuers to your location.

Sylvan Sport Go

Anybody who takes a motorcycle or ATV on extended outings should consider the SylvanSport GO. The lightweight pull-behind camper (it’s more of a tent on wheels) can go just about anywhere your ATV can. It is a few steps up from roughing it, but you won’t feel too much like a “glamper” because of the practicality of this camper. The trailer has room for all of your extras, such as fuel, and will allow you to bring back any bounty you may harvest while in the field. With this, you can find a spot, grab your OAF-96 Backpack and then head out for the day. You’ll be happy knowing you have a comfortable spot to return to at the end of your day.

shutterstock_241929115For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America have been teaching young men a variety of skills, from civic duties to craftsmanship to outdoors survival. With a strong emphasis on camping and other outdoors skills, the Boy Scouts encourages its members to get out into nature. These experiences include short weekend camping trips, advanced backpacking trips and even some week-long trips for the more advanced scouts. Boy Scouts learn skills like building and maintaining a campsite, building fires, self-sufficiency and leaving no trace, which make for great outdoorsmen later in life.

Leave No Trace

The “leave no trace” principal is fairly easy to understand, but can be harder to implement. To leave no trace is to make sure you have as minimal an impact on your surroundings as possible. This includes not leaving trash, minimizing any damage you might cause by setting up your tent and preparing your campsite in ways that don’t harm the outdoors in general.

If you are backpacking, it is important to only bring necessary supplies. Remember you have to bring home whatever you bring out for your trip, such as trash and equipment. When at a park, remember to follow all the rules and curtesies that are set out to make sure your fellow campers have as good a time as you do. Not littering, keeping the noise down (especially after dark) and sticking to marked paths and areas ensures that the people after you can enjoy nature like you did. You also need to make sure you don’t start a wildfire by keeping campfires contained in a designated area or by building a proper fire pit.

S.T.O.P.

In case things go wrong while you are out in the wilderness, the most important thing is to not panic. Remembering the acronym S.T.O.P. can get you out of a bind and save your life.

  • Stay calm. Once you realize you are lost or in trouble, you need to take some time to regroup. Eating a bit of food or drinking some water is a good way to start that process. Then, spend some time gathering your thoughts.
  • Think. Think about how you got where you are. Look around you and figure out where you are on a map or GPS device. Take some time to figure out what kind of supplies you have, such as food, water and tools, and if they can help you get out of your current situation.
  • Observe. Look for signs of where you were, such as footprints or disturbed areas. Keep in mind the time of day and how much daylight you have, as stumbling around in the dark is never a good idea.
  • Plan. If you decide to find your way back, make a plan so you won’t get yourself into even more trouble. Leave a trail by marking where you’ve been to find your way back to the original spot if need be.

Safety Tools

It’s good practice to keep a whistle and mirror or other reflective object on you when you venture into the outdoors because both are easy, low-effort ways to get attention if you need help. Whistles can make a much louder sound than yelling and take much less effort. Mirrors can be seen from miles away.

Multitools are an essential tool when hiking or camping. These allow you to have many different tools, including knives, saws, fire starters and compasses, while minimizing the amount of weight and space they take up.

Being in the outdoors is a great experience. Organizations like the Boy Scouts teach the principals of making the most of your experience as well as making sure nature is as enjoyable today as it was yesterday.