Treestand Safety – Remember it!

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It’s that time of year again when we all start climbing trees in hopes of closing our tags. Excitement, weather conditions, carelessness, and a number of other factors can make this a treacherous acticity. Life can change in an instant, so PLEASE take the time this year to remember your treestand safety percautions.

Here is a short video to remind us of the importance of treestand safety.

Hunting Season Survival Basics

Hunting Season Survival Basics

We all look forward to the upcoming hunting seasons and the adventures they will bring. Calling a bull moose across a boreal swamp, an elk bugling across a mountain valley, chasing sheep and goats along rocky cliffs. Perhaps you’re in a different country, continent or just trying to outsmart that big backyard whitetail. Whatever your pursuit it will provide excitement with unique challenges and hazards. Correct pre-hunt preparation will ensure you come home safe to share your stories. Here are some hunting season survival basics to help that happen.


No matter where your travels take you there are a few items that are absolute necessities in any hunting pack.

Water is essential. A way to obtain safe drinking water should be first on your list. This could be a portable filter, purification tablets or just a container to boil it in. Whichever is best suited for the situation.

Fire provides warmth, safety and comfort. Always have two ways of starting a fire with you at all times. Some combination of waterproof matches, flint and steel and a lighter is recommended. Try to store them where they are easily accessible.

Knife. A good quality knife or multi-tool is another must have, for too many reasons to even begin listing.
A length of strong cordage is useful for everything from shelters to shoelaces.

Survival blanket, plastic or a tarp can make any situation easier. If space and weight are an issue substitute in a heavy trash bag or two.

First Aid Kit. Injuries can make a bad situation worse. Start with a basic kit and tailor it to specific needs.

Light source. Flashlight or headlamps can make low light tasks much easier and safer.

quick deploy bracelet

The Survival Cord Quick Deploy Bracelet unravels in seconds in the event of an emergency.

Rope. Never under estimate the need for a length of rope or cord. It’s uses are nearly limitless making this tool invaluable in a survival situation. Check out the Quick Deploy bracelet that unravels in seconds when needed.


Orient yourself with the area. Get some maps, topographic, Google Earth or even just gas station road maps. Become familiar with what is in the area. This will help you make educated choices if you need to navigate on your own. G.P.S. units are great tools but rely on batteries. Be sure to carry spares. A compass never runs out of power but knowing which way you are headed is only valuable if you have a destination.


Now that the basics are covered you can start considering the more specific needs for your situation and prepare yourself appropriately.

What type of communication will be available? If there is cell service then maybe a backup power source is in order. Compact chargers are available that can be preloaded and even be charged with solar or fire as energy sources. If there is no cellular service a satellite locator is another option. Models like the Spot or Delorme InReach can provide backcountry correspondence. Do not forget to always give someone you trust a trip plan. In an emergency this can narrow things down greatly, saving valuable time.


Dress appropriately. Take into account the weather you may encounter. It can be +30 celsius and then snow in the mountains on the same week. Layers are key. With the availability of waterproof breathable clothing out there the options are endless. Start with a quality waterproof outer layer and work your way inward. Remember that it does not need to be freezing to get hypothermia. Water will conduct heat away from your body 25 times faster than air. Don’t forget about your feet. Make sure your footwear is suited for the conditions you will be in. Boots should be waterproof, have good support in the ankles and soles made of a durable fabric and be insulated if necessary. Moisture wicking socks are a good choice but should be changed regularly to avoid irritation.


Don’t forget about the bugs! It could be black flies in the tundra or mosquitoes in the jungle but they all can be a problem. Along with being annoying enough to cause bad decision making and no rest, Insects are vectors for disease. Wear clothing that will protect you such as bug suits or headnets. Repellents are a good option as long as you are able to wash it off regularly. Look into vaccinations for diseases you may encounter on your trip well in advance. Some need many months and doses to be effective.

If space is available here are some extra items to consider. A folding saw, duct tape, snare wire, a signal whistle, some trail marking tape, and zipper style bags. All have multiple uses and are welcome additions in any outdoor scenario.

There is no substitute for experience. Do your research. Talk to people who may have been where you are going. Talk to outfitters and locals about problems you may encounter and how to prepare. Get on the internet. Forums and groups exist for almost anything you can imagine. The more diligent you are in getting prepared for your adventure the safer you will be. Being proactive is your best way to avoid a survival situation. Be safe and happy hunting!

by Steve Yanish

Ice Safety

Ice Safety Survival Tips

Winter means snowmobiling, ice fishing, trapping, hunting, or even just a good old game of pond hockey. These activities can take you on one of our plentiful bodies of water made solid by the winter cold. Ice can be a dangerous thing even while looking completely harmless, so here are some ice safety tips to help ensure your winter fun remains safe.

Ice thickness chart for ice safetyRemember that ice thickness is rarely uniform across a body of water affecting the ice safety. There are many factors that affect the quality of ice and in turn its load bearing capabilities.

Check the colour. Good clear blue ice is the strongest. When looking down through this ice there should be minimal air bubbles or impurities. This indicates a good solid freeze. Snow mixed in the ice can cause it to have a frosted or white appearance. This can reduce strength by as much as half. Avoid ice that has a grey tint, as this means water has penetrated the ice. Generally this occurs as spring melt begins but even a few warm days can harm good ice.

Avoid anywhere with the possibility of moving water. Creeks and rivers can remain open all winter and wear ice thin where in contact with lakes and ponds. Extreme cold can “skin” open areas over, giving the illusion of safety. Animal activity, such as beavers, can move water enough to cause it to go from a couple of feet thick to only a couple of inches in a very short distance. Stay away from houses, runs and feed-beds for this reason.

Be aware of changes in water levels. Once the water and ice are no longer in contact, the ability to build ice is lost. This spots and double layers may occur. Travel may then be unsafe even though the weather has been conducive to producing good ice. Vegetation, logs, rocks and islands will draw heat from the sun. Enough heat can be absorbed to cause surrounding ice to become extremely thin. Give these areas a wide berth when travelling.

If you come upon a person who has fallen through the ice, call for help. Alert emergency services first. An ice rescue can be extremely dangerous and if at all possible should be performed by properly trained and equipped personnel.

If it is necessary for you to attempt rescue after calling 911, proceed with extreme caution. Try to enlist help from bystanders. Be reassuring and talk clearly to the victim. They may be in shock and exhausted and will need some coaching. Get as low as you can to spread your own weight out and approach slowly. Extend your reach to remain on safe ice. A rope to throw or even a tree branch from shore can be used. Once the victim has a grip and you are ready to pull, instruct them to kick their feet to help. Drag them a safe distance from the hole until you are confident the ice is strong enough to support everyone to stand.

Worst case scenario, you break through and find yourself in the water. If you are travelling alone try to remain calm but work quickly. Seconds count here. The cold will contract your muscles and rob you of precious energy necessary to get yourself onto the solid ice. Call out loudly for help. Try to alert anyone who may be near that may be able to assist in any way.

To extract yourself, try to orient yourself onto your stomach and get to the broken edge. Throw your arms on top, spread out to distribute weight. This edge may be thin. Push down to break away fragile ice and get yourself into a position where you are able to support your weight as you climb out.

Now is the time to get back up on top. With your arms ready to pull up, use your natural buoyancy aided by any air trapped under clothing to “bob”. As this pushes you upward, kick your feet as hard as possible to swim free. Stay as low and wide as possible and roll away from the hole in the direction of safe ice.

Hypothermia is now the main concern. Get to shelter or at the very least some source of warmth. Remove all wet clothing, get as dry as possible and begin to warm slowly. Remember that feeling will be impaired. If a fire is the heat source, be careful not to get too close and inflict a burn. Body heat from another person is an effective option. By definition, hypothermia is a drop in core temperature. Raising your core temperature back to normal too suddenly can cause more issues, including arrest. Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Be Safe out there and enjoy all that winter has to offer.

by Steve Yanish

Basic Survival Skills for your Summer Adventures

Summertime is full of fun and adventure. Often this comes along with a certain level of risk and the reality is that disaster can strike at any moment. The key to mitigating these disasters is being as prepared as possible with some basic survival skills.

The truth is that it’s not just those taking back country adventures that risk finding themselves in survival situations. Anyone engaging in any outdoor activity could find themselves in dire straits at a moment’s notice. Something as simple as driving your car into a ditch on a desolate highway could find you struggling for life and in need of some basic survival skills.

We aren’t trying to be doom-sayers but it is a simple reality that we all must acknowledge so we can be prepared for when it happens. But don’t worry, with the right tools and a bit of knowledge of these summer survival basics, you will be well on your way to being prepared if the unthinkable happens to you.


There are a few items that are critical in a survival situation. Whether out for the day or a week-long expedition, these tools should be in every adventurer’s possession. Keep in mind, there is a possibility of being separated from your gear so the stuff in your pockets could save your life.
Before you start any adventure, be sure to always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

A good multi-tool will contain a good knife blade (essential) and a strong set of pliers preferably with a wire cutter. There are many types on the market and the rest of the attached tools can be tailored to your activity. This will give you the ability to “McGyver” everything from cleaning a fish to fixing a broken down ATV.

Rope has uncountable uses in any outdoor scenario. I prefer to carry paracord. Good paracord (550/200) has a tough outer sheath with multiple inside strands. It can be separated allowing the sheath to be used for heavy work, (200 lbs break strength) and the small interior strands for everything from fishing line to stitches. Paracord bracelets are popular right now. It also makes for great shoelaces.
fire starter

At least one way to make fire should be on your person at all times. A good old Bic lighter in the pocket is tough to beat. However those do have the tendency to fail or not work when wet. Waterproof matches are another good option but not as convenient. My personal favorite is a blast match. This is a version of the flint and steel but allows for one hand operation.
personal locator

Although our goal is to get away, this bit of technology should be on your “must have” list. Several versions of personal locators are on the market today. The one in my pack is the Delorme inReach. It not only has an emergency call but can be linked to my smartphone and allow me to send text messages via satellite from anywhere. It also has an option to allow loved ones to track your progress on a tablet or computer.

Even with limited knowledge of how to use it a compass can be very useful. Taking a bearing before you head out to collect supplies can prevent you from getting turned around. Familiarize yourself with a map and note your direction of travel before you head out.
bonus items

If you have the room available add these to your survival gear

Water purification tablets – simple, light and effective way to make water safe to drink
Food – Granola bars, chocolate bars, freeze-dried options. Anything that will not spoil
Wire – A small spool of soft wire. Good for everything from building shelters to snaring supper.
Duct tape – Rain gear patch, bandage, a million and one uses.
Drop Cloth – Those small, conveniently packaged bits of plastic you can purchase to keep the paint off the furniture can also make a shelter or help collect water.
First Aid Kit –Commercially made in many sizes, tailored to your activity. With these tools you have everything necessary to provide your basic needs for your unscheduled stay in the Wilderness.

Take your time as you start to assemble your essentials. Being in a rush can lead to poor decisions, losing your way or a possible injury which will only make the situation worse.


Water is of utmost importance when in a survival situation. Your first order of business is to locate and secure a water source. If you have water on you, ration it until you find a source for more. In the event you cannot find a source of water, there are a few things you can do to create a water source.

Try to find a low area or an area where it looks where water may have been present. Tall grass spots, willows, tamarack are all good indicators of moisture under the surface. Using whatever means at hand, dig a hole deep enough that water may leach in. Small rocks can be added to the bottom to help sediment settle out.

Solar Still basic survival skills

Solar Still

If the hole you’ve dug doesn’t look like it will give up water, use the sun to draw it out. Set a container to catch water in the bottom and anchor a piece of plastic over the hole. In the center of the plastic place a weight to create a cone and allow water that is condensed from the sun to drip into the cup.

Plants draw water from the ground and transpire it into the air when done. If you have a plastic bag on hand you can collect it. Place the bag over the leaves of the plant, the more succulent the plant, the better and tie the bag tightly to the stem. The greenhouse effect created will speed the transfer up and the bag will collect your water.


Shelter may not seem as important in summer months as it may in winter but weather can change without notice and being wet can make survival a challenge. Heat can also be a drain on the body causing dehydration, exhaustion, heat stroke and sunburn. All of these can make survival much more difficult than it would be otherwise. For these reasons shelter should be of considerable importance in a survival situation.
When building your shelter choose a location that takes advantage of as many natural elements as possible. Take into account the prevailing wind. Stay away from low spots where moisture may pool or cold, damp air may settle. Build it big enough to cover you completely and allow you to rest, but not too big to allow weather in. Be creative. Improvise. Here are a few options of varying degrees of complexity depending on your situation and the tools you have available.

The coniferous trees in the boreal forest can provide quick and easy shelter. Find a Large tree with thick, low slung branches that you can tuck yourself under. This will provide natural shade from the sun and wind. With a little extra work, more boughs can be weaved in to aid in shedding water.

Lean-to basic survival skills


The classic. You will need a ridge pole at about breast height. This can be attached to two trees with your cord or wire, or come in the form of a tipped over tree. “Lean” branches of an adequate length against the ridge to make a wedge design. Don’t forget to cover the sides. Spruce boughs, leaves, or moss can be used now to shingle the shelter.

This can be constructed the same as the lean-to with the tarp taking the place of most of the roofing material. It can also take a pup tent shape with the tarp simply draped over a pole leaned into the crotch of a tree and anchored to the ground using rocks or sticks as pegs.

Simple. Dig a hole long enough to lay in and deep enough to be comfortable. Line the hole with grass or leaves for a bed. Create a roof with sticks and cover with leaves, grass, etc. This will provide shelter from the heat and draw cool from the soil. Not recommended if rain is in the forecast.

Building a bed of leaves or boughs in your shelter will keep you off the cold ground and help to stop the creep of moisture up from the soil. This will help to get some much needed rest


With water and shelter taken care of, food is your next priority. Rationing will be important if you have an existing supply of food and it is important to never assume you will be rescued before you run out. You can go some time without food but hunger can cause weakness making even the simplest tasks difficult. Before your current rations expire it is important to forage for more food. Luckily sustenance is abundant in the wild and with a little work you can gather a stash of edibles to keep you going.


Cattail – The tender inner white parts of the shoots can be eaten raw or boiled.

Dandelion – The leafy greens can be eaten raw along with the unopened flowers

Pigweed – The young greens can be eaten raw or boiled

Wild Rose – Petals, buds, fruit, shoots and leaves can be eaten raw. Fruit can be boiled for tea.

Berries – At the right time of year berries can be in plentiful supply. Blueberry, Saskatoon, Chokecherry, Cloudberry and wild Raspberry and Strawberry are common and easy to pick out. Be careful to avoid other berries. Stomach irritation can occur when these are eaten.Edible Pla ts

Always err on the side of caution when gathering plants. Unless you are 100% confident, stay away from mushrooms. Stick with ones that are easy to correctly identify. There are many out there that can add to your discomfort or worse.

Fish – We are lucky in the fact that a lot of our water bodies contain fish. They may be as small as minnows but all can provide sustenance. If angling gear isn’t an option, simple fish traps can be made by piling rocks to corral fish into an area where they are able to be caught. Remember many species are more active at dawn and dusk when they cruise the shallows. This can make them easier to target. Remove the innards and cook them well. Freshwater fish can contain parasites but most are killed by cooking.

Small Game – Squirrel, rabbit, gophers and even mice are creatures of habit and are trapped with relative ease. Snaring is a very effective way to gather these sources of protein. Make your snares, from your thin wire or inner strands of paracord, keeping your target species in mind. Rule of thumb is a 2” loop, 2” off the tree for squirrel and a 3-4” loop, 5” off the ground for rabbit. Once their travel paths have been identified place your snares in areas where the trail is naturally constricted.

Remove the fur from the animals by making a small cut from one hind foot to the other below the tail. Use your fingers to loosen the hide from the back legs and then peel forward like removing a sock. Pull as far as the head and remove it as well as the feet. Take care when gutting small game as they can carry parasites as well and be sure to cook thoroughly.


Fire is important for several reasons besides the obvious warmth and cooking. Fire can also provide a sense of security which helps ease the mind about the present situation and can also help keep wild life at bay. It’s important to keep your fire small and manageable for several reasons. First, it will require less fuel to keep it going meaning less work to do which is especially important if you have sustained an injury. Second, it will help reduce the risk of forest fires or accidents. Where possible, fires should be built in clear areas to help reduce the risk of forest fires.
To start your fire quickly and easily with the first ignition you will need “fine fuels.” Nature provides excellent fire starter such as Birch bark and Usnea (Bear’s Hair or Old Man’s Beard), But there are some everyday items that are also very effective. Cotton balls or old t-shirt pieces can be coated with a little Vaseline for a man-made fine fuel that will catch with a blast match and maintain a flame for quite some time. Alcohol based hand sanitizer does the trick too.

Survival Tip Dryer lint is one of the best fire starters you’ll find. One spark from a flint and steel and your fire is roaring. It’s virtually weightless and most of us have an endless supply which makes this a great addition to your survival kit.


Injuries should be tended to as soon as possible. Even minor ailments such as splinters or a headache can cause a distraction from the task at hand and make things more difficult than necessary, which in turn can lead to worsening of the present situation.

We recommend taking a first aid course but some basic supplies and knowledge can go a long way as well.

A good first aid kit should contain, an assortment of adhesive bandages, a roll of gauze or gauze pads, skin tape, an elastic bandage, disinfectant or alcohol pads, rubber gloves, a triangular bandage, an antihistamine and some pain relievers. Tweezers and scissors are handy as well. These should cover most minor wounds.

Make sure you take the time to familiarize yourself with the contents of your first aid kit and how to properly use each item.

A little preparation and knowledge can go a long way if your trip doesn’t go quite as planned. No matter where your adventures may take you, plan ahead, travel safe and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

by Steve Yanish

Layer Up for Winter

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There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. It’s an edict we live by in the northern hemisphere. And thankfully, outdoor clothing has come a long way in helping us stay warm and dry while we pursue our passions.

5 Tips for Staying Safe During Hunting Season – Even When Your Boat Floats Away

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Being prepared when heading out hunting or fishing is something that should be taken seriously. I’m not talking about making sure you pack your favourite tackle or your fancy warming seat cushion. I’m talking about being prepared for when things go wrong.


Unfortunately, some lessons are going to be learned the hard way and emergency situations can happen at any time with no warning. While you can’t always be prepared for everything, with some careful planning and consideration you can certainly be prepared for most.

On an unseasonably warm November afternoon while hunting on Lake of the Woods, I was faced with just such an emergency, which thankfully ended safely but could have gone terribly wrong, very fast.

We had a hunting party of three guys and we decided that on such a warm day our best approach might be to jump in the boat and push some islands. Unfortunately this plan didn’t pay off as the only thing we pushed out was a small doe. But the day may not have been a total loss as I learned a lesson I won’t soon forget.

On our second push I was the shooter, so I dropped the other hunters on one end of the island and took the boat around the other end and pulled up on the adjacent island. There was a channel of water between the islands about 60 yards across. I pulled the boat up on shore wedged between a rock and a deadfall tree which hung out about 20 feet across the surface of the water. I walked up to a high spot on the point of the island and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine while waiting and hoping to see a nice trophy buck come strolling out of the bush to the waters edge.

Unfortunately the push yielded no deer. But what I did see was the boat floating down the channel between the islands with nobody in it. I immediately jumped up, leaving my gear and rifle right where it was and ran as fast as I could through the bush, down the hill and to the edge of the water. I paused for a minute to consider where the boat would end up if I just let it drift, hoping it might make shore on either side of the channel. Unfortunately, the rather strong wind that day was intent on sending the boat straight down the channel and potentially leaving all three of us stranded on two separate islands. I was left with one option – strip down and swim for it in water which was barely above the freezing point. The worst part of all was that neither of the other hunters had emerged yet so there was nobody around if things went wrong.

Fortunately, the boat was no more than about 30 feet from shore so I was able to swim to it rather easily, though not without several wild gasps which had become a uncontrollable reflex from the frigid water. My plan was to pull myself up into the boat once I had reached it and simply drive it back to shore. My body however had a slightly different plan. By the time I reached the boat, after only a few seconds in the water, my arms and legs had already decided that there was no way they were pulling me out of the water and into the boat. Now I was in trouble. I hung for a moment to try and catch my breath and then started swimming to shore with boat in tow.

Thankfully, for a 19 foot boat with 100 horse four stroke, it came the direction I was swimming rather willingly. Though for the last half of the swim back to shore I began to question if I was going to make it and started thinking to myself that these are the stupid, seemingly overcomable situations that end up killing people. Thankfully after a few more kicks my feet touched bottom and I was able to make it to shore.

Thanks to the warm weather which reached around 9°c, I immediately put my clothes back on and was instantly warm again and even managed to continue hunting the rest of the day. But that doesn’t mean the lesson was lost on me, and the remainder of the day was spent talking about how to be better prepared for similar situations in the future. This talk consisted of some of the steps we would take which are listed below.

Lesson 1 – Slow Down

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the activity for the day and become absent minded. It’s also common to want to rush to get to your spot and be ready and to make the most of the day. It was a combination of these things that lead me to be careless about how I beached the boat. The most important thing I can share with you is to slow down. Take your time, be methodical and pay attention to details. Having taken 2 minutes to grab a longer rope from my pack and tie the boat up would not have put my day out. In fact, in the end it would have saved me time and energy and possibly my life if things had gone any worse.

Lesson 2 – Rope

When the ropes on the boat weren’t long enough to reach anything to tie off to, I made the mistake of thinking that pulling it up onto the rocks would suffice. However, a sudden shift in wind direction proved that theory wrong. We have resolved to put a longer bow rope on the boat so we can always tie off. Just remember when tying a bow rope, make sure it is not long enough to reach the prop on the motor if it drags in the water.

A length of rope or cord can also come in handy for a million other purposes so I suggest either packing or wearing some length of paracord as well. I always wear a paracord bracelet in the bush, keep some extra in my pack, and lately have been wearing my paracord belt from Survival Straps.

beltLesson 3 – Ladder

When I reached the boat, my limbs had already stiffened up so much that I couldn’t pull myself up into it. Our boat is unfortunately void of a boarding ladder which would have made the difference so I recommend, if your boat doesn’t have one, get one. There are a number of rope varieties on the market that do not require permanent installation, but are easily deployable from the water. This can be a literal life saver so again, if you don’t have one, GET ONE.

Lesson 4 – WarmthBearGrylls-FireStarter(31-000699N)-std1-8

As I stated, it was fortunate that we had this unseasonably warm weather, but if you’re heading out into the wilderness (whether on the water or not) it is essential to carry something to warm yourself when needed.

A few things to consider here are a method to start a fire (waterproof matches, a weatherproof lighter or flint and steel). You should also carry some sort of tinder (dryer lint works amazingly and you are certain to have an endless supply). Make sure to keep this in a watertight package as well. I always carry my Bear Grylls Fire Starter packed with dryer lint.

You should also consider a backup method of warming yourself if in the even you cannot start a fire. A space blanket is a good thing to carry as it is compact and they work very well at retaining body heat. I keep an SOL Escape Bivvy in my pack at all times.

0140-1228 SOL Escape Bivvvy In Use

Lesson 5 – First Aid

211bb42616504f7c4b668fd809e19c52c74ca2b5After emerging from the frigid water by extremities began to ache badly as did my head. Luckily I always carry a first aid kit with a few ad ons, such as some ibuprofen which I was able to take and quell the aches quickly. This would be even more important in a survival situation where you might be stranded as pain can make surviving even more difficult. I carry the Sportsman Bighorn medical kit from adventure medical kits which contains a good supply of essential emergency medical supplies. To this I have added a small package of over the counter pain killers, and other meds such as anti-nausea pills, heartburn tablets and diarrhea/stomach upset pills.

In short; when heading out into the wilderness, make sure you are always as prepared as possible. Make sure your vehicle, whether a boat, truck or atv, is properly equipped with all the necessary safety equipment and carry as much survival gear on you as you can. This situation was a literal cold hard reminder that being prepared can and will save your life. There are probably a hundred other lessons to be learned here (like hunting with a partner so you aren’t jumping into frigid waters alone) but I hope that by sharing this I can spare you from similar situations.

If you have been in a survival situation, tell us about it. What happened, how did you survive and what lessons did you learn?