It's oh-dark thirty and you are halfway to your stand
1. Stop doing what you were doing if you can, and just breathe. Get your bearings.
2. Assess your priorities given this new factor. That is, can you safely continue with your hunt? Or does it change the nature of the hunt?
3. If you can continue safely, then continue, but keep safety even more in the forefront of your actions than usual. Make sure you don't take any of those shortcuts you take, but don't admit to taking, now and again. For example, if when climbing a "safe" ladder stand you are often tempted to remove both a hand and foot at the same time, don't. Remember the three points rule.
4. If you cannot continue safely, then consider your options. For example, one night I became hopelessly lost in the woods. Before I remembered that I had a lovely new tool with me--a GPS--I was about to call my husband and tell him I was sleeping in a tree that night. My Summit Viper would not be my first choice of a place to sleep, but I had certainly slept in it many times! Plus it would get me off the ground and away from most predators.
The most important tool or technique you can have for when your flashlight goes out, however, is a plan.
* Install a flashlight app on your smartphone (if you have one) that allows you to either use your flash (a very bright LED light), your main screen, or your keyboard backlight, depending on how much light you need. "Brightest Flashlight Free" is one example.
* Practice performing various hunting tasks in the dark. For example, before every deer season, for many years, I would go into my yard with my stand to my stand tree and put on my harness, assemble my stand, and climb at least a few feet, set up, pretend to pull up my gear, then prepare to descend, descend, and dismantle my stand on the ground, all in the dark.
* Practice walking without a flashlight. Keep steps no longer than shoulder width to keep your weight over your feet. Feel the ground with your foot before you place your step. GO SLOWLY. The more you practice this, the less likely you are to panic should your flashlight, your backup flashlight, and even your cell phone, die on you.
* Keep a knife on you where you can get to it easily. Your hunting weapon will, when packed on your back for cross-country travel, even if slung over your shoulder, take a few critical seconds longer should you need to defend yourself.
We must remember that nature is wild, and it is dangerous. That is, I think, why it is exciting for us. We are putting ourselves "out there"--for real. We are doing other than what is expected of us by others.
Preparation and a cool head will help us through the unexpected challenges we encounter.
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