hunter sitting in the autumn woods waiting for gameGoing hunting? You’re armed to the teeth with a rifle or bow, knife, saw and rope. What can go wrong? Plenty! Each year, Search and rescue teams mobilize to find hunters who fail to return when expected. Unfortunately a fair percentage of rescue operations take a tragic turn.

Maybe you’re out of shape and have a heart attack. You might trip and twist your ankle. What if you fall from a tree stand and break a leg? There are a thousand things that could go wrong.

You can’t predict the future, but you can prepare for a possible emergency.

Regardless of the situation, one of the most important survival tools is the means to make a fire, as that provides warmth and a beacon for searchers. That’s why magnesium, steel, and a butane lighter are must-pack items. Paraffin-soaked wood shavings or fire paste will help get that fire roaring in no time.

Tube tents, space blankets, over-sized garbage bags and a simple tarp have saved many a life by simply trapping body heat. Injuries, emotional distress and near-freezing temperatures pose a deadly combination. These life-saving items are small enough to be stuffed into cargo pockets or a fanny pack.

Water is a heavy burden to lug through the outback, so pack a compact water-filtration system. Some are as small as a test tube, and allow you to drink from a questionable water source without the fear of dehydrated from diarrhea.

Your mind and body don’t function well when you stop eating and your blood sugar plummets. Keep in mind that an emergency is not the time for impaired reasoning. So pack high-calorie emergency food rations you won’t be tempted to eat, like candy bars. They’ll disappear fast and then you won’t have them when you need them. These items are readily available on the Internet.

A compass, map, GPS unit and spare batteries will keep you on track and that could save your life. A list of essential items include an emergency transponder, signal mirror, reflective Mylar sheet, whistle flare and brightly colored rain poncho. Until help arrives, having a first-aid kit may save your life.

Too many hunters don’t want to lug the extra weight and take their chances a mishap won’t occur. Don’t risk it. Be prepared for your hunting trip so you come back in one piece.