After three decades of fishing and hunting in Alaska, it’s a miracle I’m still alive. More than two dozen people I’ve known over the years—close friends, pilots and guides—have died in outdoor pursuits. I’ve survived planes running out of fuel and free-falling as a result of downdrafts. I’ve survived sinking boats and collisions with moose. I’ve also put myself in harm’s way to rescue people. My making it through all such episodes was the result of a combination of luck and preparedness.
There is no substitute for applying common sense to a survival situation. Like snowflakes, each one is different. Whatever the circumstances, however, there is one constant: Your most important ally is self-confidence. No matter how terrifying the scene, no matter how hopeless the outcome might appear, you must will yourself not just to survive, but to triumph over adversity. When you’re prepared, you successfully tackle not only the anticipated challenges, but also the dangerous surprises. And with survival comes reward.
You’ll know it after you’ve fought off a grizzly charge or strained every muscle in your body to extract yourself from swirling white water. You might still be wet, cold and bleeding when the feeling of self satisfaction starts welling from within. You are alive, standing tall and proud against the elements that tried to crush you.
There are countless life-threatening situations that outdoorsmen get themselves into. Here’s how best to get out of them.
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