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Hunter’s Handbook is the official student “how-to” information pipeline of the International Hunter Education Association. As the experts in teaching safe, ethical and successful hunting, we are here to provide tips, tools, and great video content as well as offer you a place that you can learn more about your love and favorite past-time—hunting.  Spend some time with us.  New content is added monthly, and we are excited to share our expertise with you.  We wish you a lifetime of safe and memorable experiences in the outdoors.

Winter Survival Tactics

When we set out to hunt, we don’t know what will happen, but by planning for what could happen we can improve our chances of winter survival.

Planning is the first step toward winter survival. First, think warm and dry. Stay out of the wind, rain and snow and remain warm, and chances are you’ll survive. You may be hungry and thirsty and tired, but you’ll be alive.

Here’s a look at basic survival items you should consider carrying on any cold-weather outing to any place not close to the comforts of civilization. I found most items for my survival kit at cabelas.com.

A space blanket or emergency space blanket: Shelter is key to winter survival. You may be able to find a natural shelter, like a cave, or build a protective shelter out of brush and other natural materials, but a space blanket, either the heavy-duty version or the single-use Mylar emergency blanket, can bolster your shelter-building efforts or simply wrap them around you for instant shelter. Also, consider the Emergency Bivvy from Adventure Medical Kits.

Fire: A fire can not only keep cold (and hypothermia) at bay, it allows you to cook food, melt snow for water, boil water to make it safer to drink, dry clothing and gear; plus the smoke (daytime) and bright blaze (night) can help a search party find you. And, a roaring fire can provide a sense of comfort and security, making the night seem not so dark or long. I typically carry three forms of fire-making.

Stormproof Matches: With extended length, they burn longer giving more time to catch tinder on fire. Mine came in a waterproof case that holds about 40 matches.

Lighter: I wrap orange duct tape around my lighter, not so much as to make it bulky but enough to be handy.

FireSteel: I recommend practicing fire-making skills with this, which produces sparks when you scrape the striker across the rod.

Fire-starting materials: WetFire Tinder comes as individually-wrapped, odorless and non-toxic cubes that catch fire easily and burn hot, even when wet. Good firestarting materials around your home include cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly (I carry mine in an empty prescription bottle or similar container), alcohol towelettes, hand sanitizer and most insect repellents.

Whistle: A loud whistle can be heard farther than your voice, and takes less effort and will keep blasting after your voice may have worn out.

Compass: Be sure you know how to use it.

Small flashlight (with extra batteries): I prefer a headlamp, which allows hands-free fire-making, shelter-building and other survival chores.

Parachute cord: 30 to 50 feet, for lashing together a shelter, tying a space blanket, you name it.

Knife: Always.

Winter Survival Tactics

Be Prepared for Winter Survival

By Joe Arterburn

When we set out to hunt, we don’t know what will happen, but by planning for what could happen we can improve our chances of winter survival.

Planning is the first step toward winter survival. First, think warm and dry. Stay out of the wind, rain and snow and remain warm, and chances are you’ll survive. You may be hungry and thirsty and tired, but you’ll be alive.

Here’s a look at basic survival items you should consider carrying on any cold-weather outing to any place not close to the comforts of civilization. I found most items for my survival kit at cabelas.com.

A space blanket or emergency space blanket: Shelter is key to winter survival. You may be able to find a natural shelter, like a cave, or build a protective shelter out of brush and other natural materials, but a space blanket, either the heavy-duty version or the single-use Mylar emergency blanket, can bolster your shelter-building efforts or simply wrap them around you for instant shelter. Also, consider the Emergency Bivvy from Adventure Medical Kits.

Fire: A fire can not only keep cold (and hypothermia) at bay, it allows you to cook food, melt snow for water, boil water to make it safer to drink, dry clothing and gear; plus the smoke (daytime) and bright blaze (night) can help a search party find you. And, a roaring fire can provide a sense of comfort and security, making the night seem not so dark or long. I typically carry three forms of fire-making.

Stormproof Matches: With extended length, they burn longer giving more time to catch tinder on fire. Mine came in a waterproof case that holds about 40 matches.

Lighter: I wrap orange duct tape around my lighter, not so much as to make it bulky but enough to be handy.

FireSteel: I recommend practicing fire-making skills with this, which produces sparks when you scrape the striker across the rod.

Fire-starting materials: WetFire Tinder comes as individually-wrapped, odorless and non-toxic cubes that catch fire easily and burn hot, even when wet. Good firestarting materials around your home include cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly (I carry mine in an empty prescription bottle or similar container), alcohol towelettes, hand sanitizer and most insect repellents.

Whistle: A loud whistle can be heard farther than your voice, and takes less effort and will keep blasting after your voice may have worn out.

Compass: Be sure you know how to use it.

Small flashlight (with extra batteries): I prefer a headlamp, which allows hands-free fire-making, shelter-building and other survival chores.

Parachute cord: 30 to 50 feet, for lashing together a shelter, tying a space blanket, you name it.

Knife: Always.

These are basic winter survival suggestions. There are others worth considering. You can carry more survival items, but I wouldn’t carry less. For these and more ideas, I recommend you search “survival” on cabelas.com. Just be sure you do it before setting out in the cold.