Getting in shape or finally bagging a buck are great New Year’s resolutions, but staying safe outdoors should be at the top of your list.
December has given way to January and a new year is upon us all. For many, that means making New Year’s resolutions to work harder and do better in 2014, to pay more frequent visits to the gym, to reconnect with old friends, or to strive for a new career.
But which New Year’s resolutions should you, as an ardent outdoorsman or woman, be making at this time of year? Which efforts would make you a better hunter or angler? Which improvements could mean the difference between success and failure in your outdoor endeavors?
Frankly, there are a lot of resolutions you could make, from spending more time honing your marksmanship to deciding that 2014 is finally the year you are going to enter into some fishing competitions. For us, however, the big resolution for 2014 is to make a point of mastering our outdoor survival skills.
2014, in many areas of the country, has commenced notably, with some of the coldest recorded temperatures in decades. This bitter cold trend of weather has gotten us thinking about what it means to be an outdoor survivor and which skills we all might do well to learn in 2014. Here are a few of them.
Buy better – and warmer – gear
It figures that this scourge of cold temperatures has us thinking first and foremost about keeping warm. If the weather is even near as cold as it has been throughout the first week or so of 2014 (wind chills have approached temperatures of -50 degrees in some areas), you would be crazy to even go outside for a walk to the mailbox, let alone to suit up for an afternoon of hunting or ice fishing.
Check out our recent piece on layering for cold weather.
However, sometimes we do hunt or fish in cold temperatures, and when we do, we need to make sure we are equipped with the best and warmest gear that we can afford. Hunting blinds, ice fishing shelters, boots, coats, pants, facemasks, gloves, hats, and more can all go a long way in keeping you warm. If you live in a cold area, look around online to find the best-reviewed “cold weather” outdoor gear, then build yourself an emergency wardrobe for the most frigid days of the year.
Have an emergency shelter
Thanks to modern technology, we can usually know exactly what the weather is going to bring hours or even days before it happens. Sometimes, however, one of our hunting or fishing days can take an unexpected and dangerous turn as far as weather is concerned. Whether you rent a cabin in the woods where you generally hunt or take steps to turn your vehicle into a survival stronghold, you always need to have a plan B in case you can’t make it home and need to weather a storm in the wilderness.
Learn medical skills
Anyone who spends considerable time away from civilization should also expend the time and money to learn basic medical survival skills. Whether you hunt and fish alone or go out with buddies, you never know when you are going to need to bandage a wound, perform CPR, or create a makeshift sling for a broken arm.
Enrolling in a local first aid class will give you valuable experience and may just help you save a life in the future. In addition, make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked with high quality materials and with supplies that aren’t expired. Upgrading your medical kit can be a hassle, but you will be glad you did it later.