Get lost in the woods? Here's how to stay safe until "found"

By: George deVilbiss
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Every year it happens. A large search party gets launched to search for a hunter that crossed a ridge, lost his orientation, and can’t figure out where he is. Many of the state’s hunters don’t have to worry about getting lost. They never get out of their vehicles to begin with. Then too, they rarely bag their deer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you truly want to be successful deer hunting, then you have to get out of your vehicle and really get into the territory where the deer live. There are plus and minus factors to having other hunters in the same region as you. On the minus side, they could tag the buck that you had hoped to shoot. On the plus side, other hunters working a region of the woods can keep the deer up and moving around and that activity could push the buck into your view. A number of hunters, and I’m one of them, prefer not to have other hunters nearby. It means slow moving through the region. Using stealth. Sitting and watching. It’s amazing how many deer I’ve had within a hundred yards and they’ve had no clue I was there. Despite California being such a populated state, there are vast regions throughout the Sierra that are truly wild and rugged. No roads. Few people. So, what happens if you do get turned around and find you’ve lost your orientation to exactly where you are and how to get out? First of all, hopefully you’ve let somebody know exactly what region you’re going to be in and when you expect to return. If you do become lost, search personnel have a good idea where to concentrate their search activities. To make your lost stay in the woods a little more comfortable, there are some things you should regularly haul along with you. Nobody expects to become lost, but if you do, the first word is “survive.” Way back in the back country, don’t expect cell phones to work. A small, hand held GPS unit will work as it beams into satellites and can pinpoint your position and give you ideas where you are and where to go to get out. I wear a fanny pack and pack some of the more mundane items, such as my camera and some foodstuffs for the day. With temperatures dropping and even some snows now in the high country already falling, putting in a space blanket is easy and takes up very little space. It will ensure you can stay a little warmer. Carry matches, and preferred would be wood matches. Melt a little paraffin and dip the match into the wax and you have instant waterproof matches. You’ll have the ability to make a fire to stay warm. If you find yourself turned around, unable to find your way out, pretty much stay put. Wandering, hoping you find a way, you could actually wind up deeper into the territory rather than finding the way out. The first requirement of life is air. That you’ve got. The second is water. You can do without food for a long period of time, but not air and water. Once you’re settled in, make yourself as comfortable as possible and simply wait to be found. As a hunter, you have a firearm. Once you’ve settled into a position, you can also use that firearm to provide a food source and cook it with the matches you’ve brought along. If you do everything right and don’t panic, although it may seem like forever, you’ll be found totally safe in a short period of time. Just stay put and carry materials with you that you hope will never have to be used. CURRENT FISHING Lake Pardee: There is some good trolling going on around the dam, the mouth of the river and up into the river and the rule is limits, mostly rainbows but an occasional kokanee thrown in for good measure. The lake isn’t heavily populated with anglers right now so you can have plenty of room to roam. This lake will close to fishing on the 29th of this month for the year. Folsom Lake: Gotta go deep for bass, 25 feet or more. Spooning, plastics and drop-shotting should get you bit. There’s a bunch of small fish to wade through but a quality bass can be enticed. There are both king salmon and rainbows. Only downriggers will get to them, down as much as 60 feet in the deeper water in front of the dam. Caples Lake: Since the lake was drained and refilled, it has been heavily stocked with fishing, including a lot of trophy-sized trout. And the planting of trout still continues that include rainbows, brown trout and eastern brookies. Trollers are doing better than those parking on shore and sitting there waiting for a trout to roam by. A nine-pound rainbow slammed a hauled crawler behind flashers, down 25 feet. Give this lake a try. You won’t be disappointed. Frenchman Lake: The lake is now less than 40 percent. Water temperatures have dropped and trout aren’t deep. Trollers are hauling various lures to string up rainbows, best in the region around the dam. Don’t have a boat? Nice ‘bows are being taken by shore anglers by dunking eggs, Power Bait and crawlers around the Big Cove campground or around the dam. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at