Be Prepared

Posted on October 4, 2011


Wisdom is about more than truth and knowing what to do,

it’s also about what not to do.


“Just twenty more minutes,” I
thought to myself. I’m closing in on this old denizen of the woodland wilds,
and night was fast approaching. I cut this buck’s track just off the end of an
old cut road better than four hours ago. Conditions were ripe for tracking as
six-inches of freshly fallen snow carpeted the forest floor. The track was less
than an hour old when I found it, but the old boy had yet to slow down.

Pushing myself to the limit was
not unusual for me, particularly when I sense the quarry is close to being
within my grasp. And that is exactly how you can get yourself into trouble. You
see, not only did I not quit after twenty more minutes, I continued steadfastly
on for an additional forty minutes completely focused on the job at hand. It
wasn’t until I stopped to survey my surroundings that I realized the sky was
beginning to darken. Taking a peak at my watch confirmed that I’d better get
heading out with no time to waste.


Feeling confident that by making
my way back east I would easily hit the road I drove in on. This hunt
transpired well before GPS units were invented; navigating the big woods back
then was done by compass and woodsmanship.

It was nearly dark by now and
still I had not come to the road. “How could I have missed it?” I thought.
Picking up my pace I continued to trudge on within the dimly lit forest. By now
I was saturated from perspiration on the inside, and my outer wool garments
were wet from snow debris, the wind had picked up as the temperatures began to


Now I’m second guessing myself
thinking, “I should have quit on this buck long before I did.” But that was
then and this is now, and for the first time I began to entertain the thought
of having to spend the night in the woods. Leaning up against a big maple tree
to take a breather and collect my thoughts, I reached into my coat pocket for
the folded paper towel should I need it as tinder to start a fire. It was as
wet as I was and of no use to me, nor was the Bic lighter I carried which
refused to light.

“This is no time to panic,” I
told myself. “Think, what is the best solution to this situation at this very
moment, and where do you think you are right now?” Well, I must have missed the
end of the road, (Which is why I hate hunting off the end of any road) and have
traipsed much further east than intended. If I’m as far as I think I am then I
need to head directly north, which will take me to the main road. That road
would be approximately four-to-five miles from where I now stood and ultimately
put me more than twenty miles by road from my vehicle.


Convinced this was the action I
needed to take, I struck off due north for the main road. Three long, arduous
hours later I popped out onto the highway tired, wet, cold and miserable. But I
was out and none the worse for the wear. Providentially for me, a hunter
driving past stopped and picked me up and kindly drove me back to my truck.

So what were my lessons to be
learned beyond staying on the buck’s track far longer than I should have? For
starters, I needed to carry survival gear in waterproof containers. Secondly, I
best have a lighter that will ignite under any conditions and thirdly, have
more than one source to start a fire with should I need it.

In the subsequent years to
follow, I have added a windproof, waterproof lighter that will ignite under any
conditions to my equipment list. I carry various sources of tinder and most
recently, have added two items that every hunter should have in his or her
rucksack whenever venturing off the beaten path or even on the familiar back
forty. These two items are fool proof when it comes to making a fire, are
small, light and easy to use.

EXOTAC nanoSTRIKER $26.95                                                     


Exotac set out to create a product that was high
quality, ultra-small in size and completely self-contained, and the nanoSTRIKER
is the result. Sacrificing neither form nor function, its unique all-in-one
design puts all the tools you need to start a fire into one tiny package. At
the end of the day, this little tool can be collapsed and returned to key-chain
ballast duty.

Key features:

Burns at nearly 5500°F (3000°C) 3/16” waterproof
ferrocerium & magnesium rod

Lightweight anodized aluminum body

Ultra-sharp Tungsten carbide striking tool

Replaceable ferrocerium rod

Ferrocerium fire starters work best with tinder
materials that contain large surface areas: dry grasses, wood shavings, cotton
balls, dry leaves, clothing lint, etc. Using a tinder material of your
choosing, create a loose tinder bundle to catch the sparks from the ferro rod.
Wrap the included lanyard around a few fingers to secure the striker handle.
Holding the striking tool at an angle, use moderate pressure to quickly scrape
the rod. The striker should be carving material off of the ferrocerium rod.

EXOTAC MATCHCAP $24.95                                            


The MATCHCAP™ can carry all sizes of matches from
the standard kitchen strike-on-the-box to NATO lifeboat matches and even the
extended length matches sold by REI. With the dual-striker design you can use
safety matches, strike-anywhere matches, or a combination of two. An O-ring
keeps both the matches and the red phosphorus (strike-on-the-box) striker dry.
All of these features keep you focused on the task at hand and not how you’re
going to start the next fire.

Key Features:

Patent pending waterproof, safe and redundant match
striker design

Works with both safety and strike anywhere matches

Holds matches up to 72mm in length

Square threaded cap for maximum durability

Unique lanyard attachment allows for two 550
paracord loops

Waterproof to depths >5 meters

Lightweight aircraft grade 6061 aluminum
construction Anodized and laser engraved for durability

Unique knurl for grip and use with strike anywhere

Add to this UCO Industrial Revolution
Stormproof Matches and you’ve got everything you will ever need to get a
roaring blaze started when all other methods fail.


Trust me, as a deer tracker in
the big woods I’m but a step away on any given day of perhaps having to spend a
long night in the forest wilds, but it will be done without angst due to now
being fully prepared…I would urge all who take up the chase to follow suit.

All images on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier

    © 2011 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.