I have been into survival for most of my 65 years. I grew up in a small town in the Florida Panhandle and learned in elementary school how to get under my desk when we saw a bright flash of light. We were close to Panama City and Pensacola, both considered to be nuclear targets at that time.
One incident that happened while I was in elementary school has remained in my memory and I would like to share it with you. In this same small town there lived a man in his late 30's who was considered to be a "Daniel Boone". He always dressed the part wearing high boots and an outfit out of "Jungle Jim". He spent much of his time in the woods hunting and fishing and was very successful at both.
One day during the winter he went on a hunting trip into the river swamp that he was very familiar with, having hunted there all of his life. This day he didn't return after dark and the next morning some of his friends set out to find him. They had no trouble finding his boat and following his tracks. They found several places where he had sat down to still hunt. At one point his tracks seemed to mill around then became much more widely spaced as if he were running. Following his tracks the trackers found his rifle and a little further on his heavy jacket. It had been cold the day before. They found where his tracks disappeared into a water-filled slough and then came out on the other side. A little further his tracks again entered a water-filled slough and again came out on the other side. By this time the trackers had gone about a mile from where he started running. The next slough they came to was wider and deeper and his tracks entered but didn't come out on the other side. One of the trackers took off his clothes and very soon located the body of his friend.
When they pulled him out of the water, they found that he was still wearing his pistol belt with a pistol and hunting knife. The clothes he was still wearing would have been warm enough to enable him to survive the night. In his pockets they found his cigarettes and a lighter that still worked. They also found a small compass, a pocket knife, and a brass matchbox containing waterproof matches. Barring an encounter with a UFO or Bigfoot, the only logical reason for his behavior was that he somehow became turned around or lost and panicked. Here we have an experienced woodsman with all of the necessary materials for surviving the night where he was, who lost his life because he panicked.
My father and I frequently hunted this same area so this incident made a big impression on me. I also got turned around once in this same area. The first thing that came to my mind was the death of the woodsman so I stopped and built a large fire and waited until my dad came to find me. Without this incident, I might have done the same thing the woodsman did and start running. The desire to do so is very strong. I always carried waterproof matches with me and with a knife I had everything I needed to survive the night. I still hunt and fish in this same area and although my survival kit is a little larger it is the mental preparation that is the most important ingredient.
This story illustrates that merely having a survival kit with you does not necessarily mean you will survive. You only survive if you also use your head.
Hope this helps someone out there.
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